Curb appeal is everything when it comes to selling your home. How do we know? A stunning 99 percent of the participants in a National Association of Realtors survey said curb appeal is important in attracting a buyer. When it’s time to sell, use these seven exterior home improvements that can increase your home’s resale value.
Still don’t believe us? It is so important that 94 percent of the 6,911 realtors who took part in the survey said they tell sellers to improve their curb appeal before listing a home for sale. These seven improvements range from cheap, DIY projects like lawn care to jobs you’ll want a pro to complete (siding and windows).
These are the seven exterior home improvements that can increase your home’s resale value:
7 Exterior Home Improvements That Increase Resale Value
|Project||Cost||Return on Investment (percent)|
|Deck or Patio||$2,363–$7,560||69-80|
1. Lawn Care
One of the greatest values when it comes to selling your house is a simple one: Hire a lawn care service and let it go to work. The survey of realtors found that the cost of six lawn care visits (with fertilizer and weed control) averages to $375 and brings back $1,000 in a sale, an improvement of 267 percent.
Don’t forget about other standard landscaping maintenance projects:
- Mulch: $17-68 per cubic yard (or a per-bag price of $2 to $5.50)
- Mowing: $29-$65
- Shrub pruning: $6 to $15 per bush
- Planting flowers: $5 for an 8-pack of annuals
Total cost will vary widely depending on how many bushes and flowers are planted.
Combined, these standard landscaping maintenance projects bring an ROI of 100 percent.
Has your home been slow to sell? John Harris, a landscape economist, says that updated landscaping and lawn care can cause a home to sell 10-15 percent quicker.
Lawn care cost: $375 for fertilizer and weed control; cost varies for maintenance projects
Lawn care ROI: 100-267 percent
Pro Tip: The realtors found that making a landscape upgrade that cost $6,000 would bring back $5,000, a cost recovery of 83 percent. Some 11 percent of the realtors said it was the factor that closed the deal for the house.
The sample Landscape Upgrade used in the survey:
- A front walkway that runs 30 feet long and three feet wide
- Two six-foot long stone planters
- Five flowering plants
- A 15-foot tree
The remainder of this article will focus on exterior projects on the house itself. If you’re wondering about other landscaping projects:
- Tree care (including tree removal and tree trimming) shows a 100 percent return on investment
- Installing an irrigation system (cost of $2,539 to $4,773) brings back an 86 percent return on investment.
If you don’t put on a new roof when the house goes on the market, the buyers will demand one, or demand a reduction in price over it. Get ahead of the curve, and have one installed.
A LawnStarter review found that the average cost of a replacement roof is $8,446, while the average cost of a new roof (one that includes the structure, decking, and shingles) was found to be $14,643.
In a survey in 2022 in which 2,505 realtors responded, the National Association of Realtors found that a new roof brings back 100 percent of its value when a home is sold.
Roofing cost: $8,446-$14,643
Roofing ROI (for a new roof): 100 percent
3. Garage Door
It may not be something that first comes to mind, but putting in a new, upgraded garage door is expected to add value to your house. A LawnStarter survey found that the average cost of a new garage door is $1,120. Realtors report that it brings back 100 percent of its value.
Garage door cost: $1,120
Garage door ROI: 100 percent
New siding acts like a face lift for your home, giving it a new, fresh look. Siding costs an average of $10,693, according to LawnStarter research, and can be expected to bring back a return of 82-86 percent, realtors report.
Siding cost: $10,693
Siding ROI: 82-86 percent
New windows are a selling point for a house, with the value added depending on the material. Based on a house size of 2,495 square feet (a figure derived from U.S. Census data):
- $30,000 is the average cost of installing vinyl windows, according to the National Association of Realtors Remodeling Impact Report.
- $20,000 is the benefit in a sale, according to the survey of realtors.
- 67 percent is the value returned.
Wood windows are considered higher end:
- $48,000 is the average cost of installing wood windows, the remodelers report.
- $30,000 is the benefit when the house is sold, according to the survey of realtors.
- 63 percent is the value returned.
Replacing single-pane windows is a great way to add a level of security, modernize your home and help reduce energy costs. According to Energy Star, a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, a home can save from $101–$583 per year on energy bills by replacing single-pane windows.
Window cost: $30,000-48,000
Window ROI: 63-67 percent
6. Deck or a Patio
Two percent of the 6,911 realtors who were surveyed in 2018 said that the installation of a patio sealed the deal when it came to selling a house
- $2,363 – $5,909 is the average price range for a professionally installed patio, a LawnStarter review finds.
- 69 percent is the value returned on a concrete paver patio, according to the survey of realtors.
Four percent of the 6,911 realtors who were surveyed in 2018 said the wood deck alone sealed the deal when it came to selling a house:
- $7,560 is the estimated national average to have a professional service install a wood deck, according to a LawnStarter report. (This is the price for an 18×14 square foot deck at $30 per square foot.)
- 80 percent is the value returned, according to the realtors’ 2018 survey.
Deck or patio cost: $2,363–$7,560
Deck or patio ROI: 69-80 percent
7. Front Door
A top agent claims that buyers make up their mind within seven seconds of setting eyes on a home. It isn’t a stretch to say those seven seconds would include a look at the front door. So what is it worth to you to make a great first impression?
Pro Tip: A study from Zillow found that having a black front door increased a home’s sale price by 2.9%. The median U.S. home value is $428,700 as of the first quarter of 2022. So having a black door would be worth $12,432.
If you want to go with a steel door:
- $3,150 is the average cost of a steel front door, according to remodelers.
- $2,000 is the benefit when the house is sold, according to the survey of realtors.
- 63 percent is the value returned.
If you prefer a fiberglass door:
- $3,500 is the average cost of a steel front door, according to remodelers.
- $2,100 is the benefit when the house is sold, according to the survey of realtors.
- 60 percent is the value returned.
Front door cost: $3,150-$3,500
Front door ROI: 60-63 percent
Home Improvements Are Hot
People are spending to upgrade their homes like never before. Harvard University’s Joint Center of Housing Studies (JCHS) report of 2021 reviewed the HUD American Housing Survey and found that in 2019 some $262,105,000 was spent by homeowners on improvements, whether they be renovations or remodeling.
Some of those expenditures:
|Homeowners Reporting Projects||Average Expenditures|
|Porch, Deck, Patio or Terrace||1,608,000||$6,881|
|Windows or Doors||3,663,000||$3,763|
|Outside Property Improvements||7,042,000||$5,492|
|Walkways or Driveways||1,886,000||$3,690|
|Landscaping or Sprinkler System||2,853,000||$2,730|
JCHS report Table A-1.
DIY or Call in a Professional
People have long enjoyed making home improvements as DIY projects. But more than ever, they are turning to professional services, as the JCH review of the HUD American Housing Survey finds:
Source: JCHS report, Figure 4
Ben Mizes, co-founder of the online service Clever Real Estate, suggests these simple renovations to catch the eye of potential buyers:
◉ Window boxes: Install them under your street-facing windows. Fill them with seasonally-appropriate flowers that complement your home’s color scheme.
◉ Light fixtures: Update the ones outside, replacing bulky old ones with contemporary ones. Place a warm, powerful light on the front door to make a great first impression. Outdoor spaces such as patios and decks are more welcoming when lit, especially at night.
◉ Seasonal decorations: Especially around the holidays, make sure to put up current decorations; Halloween jack-o-lanterns shouldn’t be rotting on the front steps for a November showing. In spring and summer, displaying wildflowers and native plants is an inexpensive way to boost curb appeal.
Permits are often required for home improvements, and you want to be sure that you get any that are needed. Work that didn’t get a required permit can interfere with a house sale. As in stop it dead.
A professional knows when a permit is needed and how to manage the process. Be warned: The permit process is often described by DIY people as frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive.
A rule of thumb: Changes that involve decks, fences, patios, walls, or electrical work are almost sure to require a permit.
As you consider remodeling your home, consider the enjoyment you’ll gain from various projects along with the monetary ROI when you sell your home.
Homeowners and home buyers were surveyed in 2021 about their most recent home exterior remodeling project.
Some 1,182 people responded to the survey by Houselogic, a website supported by the National Association of Realtors. Houselogic asked them to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10, and called the result the Joy Score. The results for outdoor projects showed great satisfaction. These are the Joy Scores for various projects:
|Outdoor Projects||Joy Score|
|Paint exterior siding||9.8|
|Vinyl and wood windows||9.6|
|Steel and fiberglass door||9.5|
|Vinyl and cement siding||7.9|
A Call to Action
When you go to sell your house, you want to take action. Don’t expect others, including the realtor, to do all the work. Review the options presented here and make a decision. Remember, an investment of a lot of time and a little money can make a difference in the sale price that will make it all worthwhile.
And if you’re looking for a 267 percent ROI, look no further than lawn care. Contact one of our local lawn care pros to weed and fertilize your lawn to make that great first impression as someone walks up to your front door.
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