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6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Boost Curb Appeal
By Shawn Graham
It's time to play catch-up. You’ve put off these outdoor household chores for years, so you may have trouble getting a second look at that “for sale” sign in the Lake Norman area. Boosting your home’s curb appeal makes a huge difference, and you can do it without breaking the bank. The adage of “spend money to make money” rings true — but you don't have to spend much.
Start with pen and paper. Make a list of everything you’ll want to do — the folks from your realty company can help. Real estate agents are experts at knowing what works and what isn’t necessary when trying to get a fish on the property-buying hook.
Lawn and Garden
Your yard says a lot about your property and how easy it is to care for. If your yard is full of weeds and looks shaggy, prospective buyers may think it's a hassle to maintain. They may also consider the home to be a fixer-upper project and not worth the asking price. Charlotte-area real estate prices are on the upswing, according to the Home Buying Institute. A recent real estate forecast predicts home values in Charlotte will rise over the next year by about 6%. You don’t want to miss out on that trend because of unkempt landscaping. Whether you do it yourself or hire a lawn service, note that the first thing that a potential customer sees is the grass in the front yard.
Spruce up wood trim with paint or varnish. This includes shutters, the front and garage doors, window ledges, decks, railings, and fences. A gallon or two of paint goes a long way.
This can include solar lighting. Place these inexpensive light sticks at the edges of the driveway and around the front flower beds. Rocks, sun catchers, flowerpots and yard ornaments also bring attention to the property. Don’t overdo it: Too much stuff looks crowded. You don’t want your front yard looking like a flea market. But a few added touches allow potential buyers to think about what they can do if they make the property their own. Cleaning up the sidewalk and driveway also helps with first impressions. Instead of repaving, rent a power washer to get rid of dirt and stains from cement and asphalt surfaces. Those washers also work well on fences and patio furniture.
Bird House and Bird Bath
For the front yard, why not? There are attractive ornamental bird houses and baths available at garden and home stores. It will dress up your yard and attract beautiful birds.
Flowers and Shrubs
Tired-looking landscaping can put off prospective buyers, especially if they are not do-it-yourselfers. If the flower and shrubbery beds around your home need an upgrade, it’s an easy thing to do. Choose some bright, colorful and inexpensive blooming annuals or perennials. The snowhill hydrangea is native to Charlotte and produces beautiful white blooms. Add some swamp milkweed to the edge of the porch and driveway. These lavender colored flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Since these plants are native to North Carolina, they need little water or maintenance, another attractive feature for buyers. Mulch empty spaces over soil bedding. A few potted flowers will also keep the landscaping looking nice.
House Numbers and a New Mailbox
It doesn’t cost much to nail new house numbers on your front door or porch railing, and there should also be easy-to-read numbers on the mailbox. If the mailbox is broken or the paint is chipped, it’s time for a refresher. Spray-paint the box and add some mulch around the post with flowers. If you decide to install a new one, be sure to follow the United States Postal Service rules for mailboxes.
Getting ready for the big sell is part of the process. Spend a little time and a few dollars now, and you may not have to wait long for an offer.
Shawn Graham is a former Realtor who stages homes and landscapes before they go on the market. Her own garden is filled with native blooms and shrubs that attract birds and bees.
Appointed to Lake Norman Realty’s leadership team in July 2010, Shantae provides coaching, support, and advanced training for both new and experienced associates throughout the company as Director o....