Curb Appeal Definition

What Is Curb Appeal?

Curb appeal refers to the exterior, physical features of a property that appeal to a prospective buyer. In most cases, the buyer may examine the property’s physical features from the curb, hence the name. When a seller has a property with excellent curb appeal, it adds leverage to how much the property can be sold for.

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Why Is Curb Appeal Important?

curb appeal

Curb appeal matters because it takes advantage of first impressions[1]. It allows buyers to immediately judge a house based on its general aesthetic attractiveness from a certain distance before they even reach the front door. For this reason, curb appeal is important to both buyers and sellers because a property’s exterior appearance is often indicative of the quality of its interior.

Sellers who wish to maximize the gains from their property often make minimum improvements to it before listing it on the market, whether it is the average homeowner or a real estate investor who does fix-and-flips[2]. Curb appeal can not only allow a seller to raise their asking price, but it may also allow them to sell the house more quickly[3].

However, improving a property’s curb appeal is not restricted to selling. A homeowner may invest in increasing their property’s curb appeal simply because it gives them a sense of pride in owning an attractive house. It is as much about psychological well-being as it is about financial satisfaction.

How Much Value Does Curb Appeal Add?

Researchers at the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington published a study[4] in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics that curb appeal can account for as much as 7% of the home’s value when sold. Data shows that it may even be double (14%) for cold residential markets.

An earlier study by researchers at Michigan State University agrees with this assessment. The study revealed that landscaped facades contributed to a higher perception of home value by as much as 11%[5]. Among other things in the study, they found that:

  • Landscaping adds up to 14% resell value and up to six weeks faster selling.
  • An updated roof adds up to 105% return on investment (ROI).
  • New doors can increase ROI by 90%.
  • Power washing and decluttering the exterior can add up to $15,000 to home values.

RELATED: 7 Home Upgrade Ideas for Sellers Under $1,000

Improving Curb Appeal

There are many ways to boost the curb appeal of any home. Some of them are more cost-effective than others, as recommended by Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report (updated yearly)[6]. In general, some projects recoup more of their cost when resold, but others even yield a negative value (which means the cost outweighs the benefits).

Here are some of the best ways a homeowner can add curb appeal to their property, from easiest to most time-consuming and expensive.

Adding Flora

Adding flowers and greenery is an easy yet impactful way to boost a home’s curb appeal as they make the property look more inviting. Flowers, shrubs, and crawling plants can also accentuate or frame windows, doors, entryways, and many other key visual points. Standing and hanging planters can be used closer to the house.

The choice of flowers or live plants depends on how much the homeowner can maintain or what the property typically needs[7]. For example, low-maintenance flowers like a lily of the valley can be great for busy homeowners, while fast-blooming ones like a black-eyed Susan work for those who need to sell their properties quickly.

curb appeal black eyed susan

Exterior Maintenance

Minor imperfections can have a major effect on curb appeal. Examples are busted light bulbs, chipped or peeling paint, cracked window or door glass, ripped bug screens, collapsed gutters, or mold stains. Most of these can be replaced from a trip to the nearest hardware store.

Power or pressure washing can also make a difference in terms of curb appeal, as it can remove deep-seated grime and dirt in the cracks and crevices of window casings, siding, deck, sidewalks, and other exterior components. A decent pressure washer can pay for itself after five uses[8].

Otherwise, if the siding itself is too old, some sellers would rather replace the siding than spend time trying to identify and repair small issues. The same goes for windows, though they are often more difficult because of their sheer number of parts, especially if the style is unconventional. In both components, the cost recouped may vary depending on the material of the replacement.

RELATED: One Easy Way to Enhance Your Property’s Perceived Value

Door Replacement

An old, battered door affects curb appeal negatively, even if the landscaping is superb. One of the reasons is that the quality and state of the door has a huge psychological impact, not only on its occupants but also on guests and passersby.

front door curb appeal

Even the color of the door can speak volumes about the character of its owner, according to Sally Augustin of Design With Science[9]. For example, a white door speaks of simplicity and neatness. For maximum curb appeal, a bold yellow color is advisable, as it catches attention and implies optimism and confidence.

On the other hand, a garage door is a different matter entirely. While front doors are often manually operated, garage doors are more mechanically inclined. This means that it has more moving parts that the average homeowner does not always know how to fix. If the garage door has been broken into, vandalized, damaged (naturally or otherwise), and has become a safety hazard, most sellers would rather replace it—and recoup up to 93% of the cost[10].

Still, replacing a door is not always necessary, especially if it is undamaged. Door hardware can instead be upgraded for more security, or the door itself can be repainted to match the exterior if the latter has been changed.

Takeaways

Curb appeal refers to the overall attractiveness of a house as people on the street see it. Real estate investors who flip houses may also choose to remodel and improve the property before listing it on the market—and for good reason. Independent studies have shown that improving curb appeal raises the property’s selling price by a slight amount.

There are different home improvements a homeowner can undertake to increase their home’s curb appeal. However, as Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report observes, not all “fixes” can magically increase the asking price of a property. Some projects add more value than others and recoup more of the cost of undertaking these improvements at resale.

Sources

  1. Stillman, J. (2016.) Just How Hard Is it to Shake a Bad First Impression? Science Has a Scary Answer. INC.com. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/science-first-impressions-are-even-more-long-lasting-than-you-think.html
  2. Peters, K. (2020.) Curb Appeal. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/curb-appeal.asp
  3. Esajian, P. (n.d.) The Importance of Curb Appeal. FortuneBuilders. Retrieved from https://www.fortunebuilders.com/importance-curb-appeal
  4. Johnson, E.B., Tidwell, A., & Villupuram, S.V. (2020.) Valuing Curb Appeal. J Real Estate Finan Econ 60, pp. 111–133. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s11146-019-09713-z
  5. Behe, B., Barton, S., et. al. (2005.) Landscape Plant Material, Size, and Design Sophistication Increase Perceived Home Value. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.24266/0738-2898-23.3.127
  6. Wallender, L. (2019.) Cost vs. Value Report: Basics of This Industry Classic. The Spruce. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/remodeling-cost-vs-value-report-1822310
  7. Bartsch, C. (2020.) 16 Plants That Will Bring Your Curb Appeal to Life. HomeLight. Retrieved from https://www.homelight.com/blog/curb-appeal-plants/
  8. Wilson, B. (2019.) How Pressure Washing can Increase Curb Appeal. TruFant Real Estate. Retrieved from https://www.trufantre.com/blog/posts/2019/01/08/how-pressure-washing-can-increase-curb-appeal/
  9. Wiebe, J. (2019.) Your Front Door Color Reveals More About You Than You’d Think. Realtor.com. Retrieved from https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/the-surprising-things-your-front-door-reveals-about-your-soul/
  10. Cost vs. Value Report | National. (2020.) Remodeling Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2021/

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