Special to USA TODAY
Michael Lam, a real estate agent from Queens, New York, says the $200 to $300 he spent on garden mulch and plants was part of the secret sauce that helped him sell his house in just one week in 2017.
“That kind of freshened up the place,” Lam said. “Curb appeal is very important, especially when you sell. That’s the first thing people see.”
“You can pick up a couple of bags of mulch and do yourself with a shovel. Put a nice mailbox and a nice sign for your door …These are inexpensive things people can do.”
Along with those steps, he offers some basic sprucing up tips to clients putting their homes on the market.
“Power wash your driveway and walkway and your vinyl siding or brick siding,” he said. “It will give the house a nice pop.”
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Here are other low-cost ways to give your house a nice facial:
Clean, trim, and fix the little things: Just as cleaning, de-cluttering and replacing broken bulbs are musts when you stage your home for sale, so are pulling up weeds, mowing the lawn and trimming trees and bushes.
“When grass is growing out of the gutter, it’s time to clean the gutter,” said Joe Hayden, a real estate agent in Louisville, Kentucky, adding that sellers should also fix chipped paint, detached shutters, or holes created by woodpeckers.
Another rule: Trim or grow plants some distance from the house because they could cause termite and other damage if grown against it, he said.
Don’t know what else might be off? Put a little distance between yourself and your house, by foot or even by car “and see if there’s something that jumps out at you and ask yourself, ‘Does this thing look in harmony? Does the color match?’ That holistic view is very important,” Hayden advised.
Front door: Giving the front door a new paint and color is another easy way to enhance curb appeal, said Caroline Harmon, trends and style analyst for retailer Lowe’s. Popular colors currently include turquoise blue and a glossy black that’s “classic and makes a statement,” she said.
“It’s the main welcoming point to the house,” Hayden said. “It’s one of the easiest and cheapest things to do.”
The cost of painting a 3-foot-by-7-foot door is less than $50 if homeowners do it themselves. With hired labor, it costs up to $300, he said.
Don’t want to bother with that? Try updating doormats and add a wreath for every season, Lowe’s Harmon said.
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Magic of spray paint: Don’t have the budget to replace those tired-looking locksets, which can cost hundreds, or mailboxes and door signs? Here’s a simple trick.
“Spray paint can go a long way” for inside and outside the house, said Candace Hutchison, a professional stager. A can of spray paint costs about $3.50 to $5.50 at the low end. “Even if you have an old flower pot that looks beat up, spray-paint it so it looks new.”
Pop of color: Placing potted plants at each entry point – the front stoop, walkway and next to garage doors – also helps curb appeal, Hayden said.
“A little splash of color can go a long way to create a positive feeling,” he said. “You want those points of contact where you are going to be on foot and right next to it.”
It’s also a good idea to get plants that correspond to each season, like poinsettias for Christmas, he said.
Also try placing three different planter sizes by the door. “It makes more of a statement,” Lowe’s Harmon said.
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