A good place to start is to pretend that you are a buyer and stand in the street and look back at your building. Nothing looks worse from the curb—and sets off subconscious alarms—like dirty front windows, hanging gutters and downspouts, missing bricks from the front steps, cracked sidewalks or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%. Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house.
Here is a list of eight common tasks that will add to the value of your home and give you the curb appeal you seek.
1. Get started with the front of your house. In this instance a book is being judged by its cover. Wash windows inside and out, wipe cobwebs from eaves, hose down the downspouts, and don’t forget garage doors and parking lots.
2. Wash the dirt, mildew and general gunge off the outside of your buildings. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.
3. Clean up the yard and garden. A well-manicured lawn with fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal. Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots. Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass and be sure to mow regularly.
4. Clean the carpeting in your condo entries and hallways, and don’t forget the walls. Fresh paint in entries and on walls makes a huge difference. Shampoo the hallway and stair carpets twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Be sure hallways aren’t littered with multiple pairs of shoes outside the unit doors.
5. Make sure the name labels at the lobby door buzzers look consistent and professional. Handwritten labels of different styles and colors can mislead a buyer to assume it’s a building with a lot of turnover.
6. Glam your address. Add a plaque with architectural house numbers to make your building stand out. Give your old mailboxes a facelift – paint them. These days, your local home improvement center or hardware store has an impressive selection of decorative numbers. You can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $200 depending on the type of address plaque you purchase.
7. Add a color splash to please the eye of would-be buyers. In spring, plant a tulip border. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or chair on the front porch if there is room. These colorful touches won’t add to the value of our house: appraisers don’t give you extra points for them. but beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your home sell faster.
8. Frame your back yard, deck or patio, adding a border or low fence. Be sure to maintain the gates in clean and working condition. Replace and tighten loose latches.
Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team