The famous British playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Although historians disagree what Wilde was actually talking about when he coined this famous phrase (or whether he even said it), scores of real estate agents have taken it to heart when advising their clients about getting the most value out of their house, and with good reason. Without question, your home’s curb appeal matters a lot, even if your home isn’t on the market.
Most homeowners tend to view their home as one of their largest and most important investments. However, many homeowners don’t pay enough attention to exterior maintenance projects until it’s time to sell. Sure, many of us will drive to Home Depot this spring and fill up a few flower pots, but most of us tend to spend the vast majority of our home improvement dollars on interior improvements and end up deferring sorely needed exterior maintenance for another day.
As we’ve written previously, interest rates remain low and as a result homeowners are refinancing in record numbers in order to pay for home improvements. If you’re in this category, don’t get caught in the “Interior-only” mindset. Make sure you’re paying attention to your home’s curb appeal and allocate your dollars accordingly. Let’s review some of the most well-known (and lesser-known) exterior projects you can complete this spring that can really benefit your bottom line:
- Replace/refinish front door – We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again—your front door is literally your home’s “first impression”. According to Remodeling Magazine, a new or refinished front door provides the single highest return on investment (ROI) of any home improvement project. If you don’t want to replace or refinish your door, consider installing a new doorknob and knocker (or a new mailbox if it’s next to your front door). And when was the last time you replaced the house numbers on your entryway?
- Clean your windows – Have you ever noticed when a friend of yours is wearing dirty eyeglasses? Well, your windows are like the eyes of your home. The better they look, the better your house looks. Not sure? Clean your first-floor windows and get back to us. You’ll notice a big difference. Plus, cleaning your windows is a relatively inexpensive project.
- Repair water damage – Water damage to your home’s exterior can cost you dearly, and left unattended can cost you much more in the long run than if you take care of the problem now. Inspect your home’s exterior carefully, including your gutters and soffits. If your garage forms a significant part of your home’s front façade, inspect the gutters, light fixtures and the condition of the garage door, including the paint. Finally, inspect your yard for new drainage patterns and potential problem areas.
- Use your green thumb – You know the drill. Now is the time of the year to fertilize your lawn, mulch your beds, and look for ways to add some plantings. And you can never plant enough flowers.
This year, many homeowners are considering taking on larger outdoor projects such as a putting in a new deck and patio, adding an outdoor kitchen or adding more outdoor living space. Depending on how ambitious your exterior projects are this spring, you may need an additional source of funds to make it all happen. Remember that the value of your home has probably increased in the past few years and that interest rates are incredibly low. It makes sense to consider doing a cash-out refinance to give you the cash you need to freshen up your home’s curb appeal and grow the equity in your home for years to come. Improve your home’s exterior and you’ll reap the benefits!