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8 Inexpensive Exterior Home Improvement Ideas To Increase Your ROI | Architectural Digest


From first dates to job interviews, first impressions play an important role. This of course also applies to real estate. For potential buyers, a striking home exterior is what first catches their attention, even before they see the house in person. Consider how long potential buyers spend traversing real estate sites like Zillow. A home’s exterior is likely to be the main image and can determine whether they are willing to click on the listing. “If we’re able to create a home with good curb appeal, we usually use the exterior image as our lead in photo galleries and marketing materials,” says Sarah Maguire, senior vice president of the Aranson Maguire Group at Compass in Boston. “That’s how important it is!”

Research proves it: According to Remodeling’s 2022 Cost vs Value Report, the majority of projects that produced the best return on cost were actually exterior home renovations. But improving your home’s ROI isn’t just about replacing big-ticket items. Some of these projects, like replacing a garage door or putting on a new tire, can cost between $1,000 and $7,000, respectively. But like many things in life, it’s all in the details. Here, check out eight minor updates you can tackle over the course of a weekend—like a fresh coat of paint on a front door or new lighting—that directly affect the amount a buyer is willing to spend on your property.

1. Inspect the roof

Replacing a roof can cost $8,000 on average, according to Forbes Advisor. However, a mid-life roof may not need to be replaced, but you do need to give it some TLC. Maguire recommends having a professional come out to perform routine maintenance and alert you to any red flags. Certain areas of your roof may experience more wear and tear depending on the direction it faces or whether it is subject to water collection. Be sure to tell potential buyers and real estate agents about the upgrades you’ve made, because trust us: Everyone asks about the roof. “This gives buyers a huge amount of reassurance and allows you as a seller to get out in front of it,” says Maguire. This is especially important if you live in an area with bad weather and harsh winters.

2. Power wash the outside

We know how satisfying it is to see dirt and decay removed, as hours spent watching cleaning videos on TikTok or Instagram can attest. A potential buyer will feel the same sense of satisfaction, as a dirty home exterior can negatively affect their first impression. “Power washing your home is a relatively easy task that you can complete in a day,” says Quinn Veysey of Fisher Real Estate in Nantucket, Massachusetts. When it comes to the equipment, you can buy a pressure washer for around $200 to $500. However, you can also rent one from your local rental shop for $40 to $100 per day. Just be sure that before you start, you consider the exterior material of your home. “Be sure to research what surfaces are acceptable for power washing,” says Veysey. “Vinyl is easily removed for dirt, but power washing shingles is not encouraged.” Weathered brick, especially in homes older than 80 years, can also be damaged by a pressure washer, especially if the water pressure is over 100 PSI.

3. Paint the front door

The front door is the gateway to the rest of your home. Not only does it provide an initial focal point, but it also sets the entire tone for your property’s exterior. “The front door is a great place for bold color on a facade. I always recommend stepping out of your comfort zone with a front door color,” says John Gidding, designer, Masonite curb appeal expert and host of HGTV’s Curb Appeal Xtreme. He advises you to choose a rich and saturated tone that expresses your personality and catches the eye. You can make a strong first impression for around $30. And here’s a bonus: No need to remove the door from the hinges to paint, says Gidding. Just be sure to protect your floors and tape off the hardware.


4. Fix rotting wood

Before adding anything new to spruce up your home’s exterior, focus on what’s already there. “Any rotting wood should be treated as this is the first sign of deferred maintenance,” says Maguire. “This applies to trim work, doors and windows.” Fascia – the long boards that frame the roof – is a vital component of your home’s roof and gutter system, protecting your home from moisture-related damage. But they also face chronic exposure to the natural elements, meaning regular maintenance is essential. If yours is in poor condition, Maguire recommends hiring a professional to remove and replace wood. Although composite material is pretty much the industry standard these days, it is more expensive than natural wood. However, many brands come with a lifetime warranty, which looks extremely attractive to potential buyers. For smaller spots of wood rot, say about the window trim, patch up with Bondo wood putty, and then sand and paint.

5. Improve exterior lighting

“Let’s get lit” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to lighting up your home’s exterior. After all, no one wants to buy a house that conveys a sense of doom and gloom. “Adding a highly visible, oversized light fixture is quick, easy and trendy,” says Gidding. “It will illuminate your front door and create a warm, inviting glow for guests.” Improved lighting also creates a real sense of security for potential buyers. For example, motion sensor lights cost about $50 and are very popular for people who park their cars in a driveway overnight. Also, lighting that is on an automatic timer and turns on after dark means you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn it on yourself.

6. Replace hardware

Accessories with minor updates can make a big difference. Mismatched and rusty fittings lack appeal. Therefore, it is a solid investment to spend a few kroner on a house number, door knocker and door handle. All metal accents on hardware and fixtures must match in both material and style to create a cohesive design, says Gidding. For example, if you have a modern style home, avoid ornate wrought iron hardware that you would normally see in a more traditional style home. “You might love the look of a funky new font, but if it doesn’t reflect a similar design to the rest of your home, it will start to feel like a jumble of styles,” adds Veysey. “Consistency is the key.”

7. Tear up the landscaping

There’s a good reason people call nice front yard landscaping “curb appeal.” After all, potential buyers are much more likely to step into a home that looks inviting from the outside. Start with general lawn maintenance, such as pulling weeds and mowing grass and edging. Then focus on the fun stuff. “Over the past few years, homeowners have begun to think of their front yard as an extension of their interior living spaces,” says Gidding. “Curated landscaping and greenery can enhance your enjoyment of the space.” Although new trees tend to be expensive, you can significantly improve a property’s curb appeal with a quick visit to a local florist. Maguire recommends adding a few potted plants and seasonal plants, especially in areas leading to the home’s entrance.

8. Stir up paint

The average house exterior painting job can cost between $6,000 and $12,000 (depending on the number of levels you have). “A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in enhancing the personality and curb appeal of your home, but you don’t need to repaint the entire house,” says Gidding. He suggests focusing on painting the trim, which gives a significant facelift without having to tackle the entire structure. Choose a crisp color that makes the decoration stand out. If your house is made of brick and doesn’t have much siding, touching up shutters can be the boost your house needs. “If you have a ladder and paint, you can do these minimal finishing touches on your own,” adds Veysey.