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People say you can't judge a book by it's cover but buyers will say you absolutely can judge a house by it's exterior. Our first home was a 1924 brick arts and crafts bungalow. I didn't even want to go into the house when we first pulled up to see it the first time because it looked creepy with cobwebs, peeling paint around the windows and gutters that were stained from leaves over the years.
My husband saw the house had potential with hardwood floors under the carpet, French doors in the dining room and tons of windows, so we bought it. I became addicted to HGTV and shows like "Design on a Dime" and "Curb Appeal" became my favorites, as I searched for ideas on how to spruce up our home on the tiny first-time-homeowner budget we had.
We were fortunate to be able to refinance the house (back in the day that home values were increasing quickly) a year later, having increased the home's value by $18,000 while spending about $3,000 in supplies and a lot of sweat equity. That's not possible today, in many home markets, but there are a lot of things you can do to improve the exterior of your home that won't cost a whole lot of money!
Get Rid of the Spiders and Grime!There is nothing more un-welcoming than spider webs along the exterior, weeds and leaves up under the bushes, and dirty windows. A quick cleaning costs next to nothing, and with a little elbow grease you can dramatically boost the beauty of your home! Renting a power-washer from Home Depot or borrowing one may help you if you've got a lot of clean-up to do, but most jobs can be DIY.
Paint Does Wonders for Prettying Up Your Home's FacadeWe were lucky to have a brick home, so painting the trim around the windows, fascia, and doors was time consuming, but not expensive. It made a world of difference. Remember to do your prep work before you paint, scraping away peeling paint and cleaning it up with TSP. Be careful if your home was built before the late 70's early 80's, as the paint could be lead. There are inexpensive test-kits you can purchase to determine if your dealing with lead paint. If you are, leave that job to the professionals.
Create a Welcoming Entry for GuestsYour home's entrance is the first impression to new visitors, and one of the cheapest areas to make a big impact! Paint your front door and trim an attractive color, clean the windows, and hang a simple wreath or welcome sign on the door! Go for the interesting and unexpected touch to make an impact, such as hanging a mirror outside. Head to Lowe’s to grab a snazzy new doormat, a pot of flowers, fern, or a potted evergreen to finish the look.
Create an Outdoor Living AreaGain some extra square footage by extending your inside living areas outside! There are a lot of ways to do that are not always budget friendly, so be careful. Pretty canopies, gorgeous furniture, and outdoor rugs can break many a budget, but fortunately you can find great home & garden deals at the end of the season! (psst...especially here on FatWallet!) :) If new is too expensive, check out your local garage sales, estate sales, and craig's list. We had a pretty set of iron furniture we picked up at a garage sale. We spray painted it and bought cushions for it, and the set lasted us for years!
Night Lights Aren't Just for Toddlers Any MoreTake a look at any model home in a new subdivision these days and you'll be amazed as to how pretty it looks at night. The windows glow from inside lights, and the outside features of the home are beautifully accentuated with outdoor lighting. My first thought is always, "wonder what their electric bill is?" But with the solar accent lighting you can buy these days, your electric bill doesn't have to rise as your curb appeal does! Even a string of twinkle lights on your patio fence can do a lot to create ambiance for summer evening soirées and make the exterior of your home look great to passer's by.
Additional ResourcesBudget Renovations with Killer Resale Value
How Much Cash Should I Put Down On a House? 6 Questions to Ask Before Buying
3 Possible Refinancing Options for Underwater Homeowners
4 Easy Ways to Save on Home-Related Expenses
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