Inexpensive curb appeal


I recently went apartment-hunting for a friend of mine, and found everything I had read about curb appeal to be very true. I formed a very sharp opinion of each property before ever setting foot in the door. I tried my best not to judge a book by its cover; the interiors of some duplexes were better maintained than the exteriors. But most people want to live in a house that they’re proud to drive up to. Somewhere that their mother can visit them and not feel that their son is living in dire straits. A few things screamed out at me as simple, inexpensive things that would have made the outsides of these duplexes much more appealing.

MAILBOXES
So many duplexes had scraped-up crooked mailboxes with peeling paint and fragments of several previous tenants’ addresses. You can purchase new mailboxes at the home depot for only $5-$10, and they really do help the presentation of the front of the house. For the names (generally last name only), I use one of those Old Fashioned label-makers. Using the black label tape, the names appear as neat and tidy as the mailboxes themselves.

WEEDING
Most of the places I looked at had recently mowed front lawns, so people were keeping up with that. There were a lot of renegade weeds growing up around foundations and in bushes, though. Some people may not notice these things, but it’s really not hard to pull out a few weeds when you put up that for-rent sign, and it doesn’t cost a thing.

PAINT
Paint is relatively cheap. If the paint is chipping or peeling on the front railing, around the windowsills, on the front porch, it’s not that much work to do a quick scrape and touch-up job. Even if it’s just in the front. Front doors often get gouged up easily, but are quick and easy to touch up. New paint goes a long way toward making a place appear bright and well-kept.

PLANTS
OK, so perennials aren’t that cheap, but if you know someone who’s a gardener, you can usually get starters from their existing plants for free. They’ll actually probably be really excited about unloading some of their hostas on you. Once they get established, they’ll come back year after year, and fill in the flowerbed to drown out the weeds.

Sure, it’s easier to just put those little rocks on some black plastic in the flowerbeds, but a house really looks a lot more like a home with some flowers growing around it.

Bushes are a nice addition too — as long as they’re kept trimmed so that they don’t block the sidewalks or windows.

Also, if your property has a small front lawn like mine, you can arrive at a showing a bit early and simply pick any dandelions that have sprouted up, making the lawn appear (temporarily) weed-free.

No time for actual gardening? Some cheap annuals in an inexpensive terra-cotta planter near the front door will do the trick too.


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