"Curb appeal" is a real estate term that you'll hear over and over when you get into the market for a new home. Once you've moved into a house, though, it's not quite time to put curb appeal behind you. You need to take steps to maintain and enhance the exterior appearance of your home. This is not just beautification for beautification's sake; keeping your home attractive from the street will significantly improve its value.
For starters, you should know that there's no one factor that contributes to curb appeal more than landscaping upkeep. The finest, most carefully-sculpted lawn and garden will have a negative effect if you let them get shabby and overgrown. It's a very smart idea to keep long-term maintenance requirements in mind when you're making big landscaping decisions. Make sure you select plants and features that you'll have the time to take care of. If you know in advance that you won't have a lot of gardening time, look into low-maintenance options; these can be just as attractive as more work-intensive landscaping.
When you pick out plants for your yard and garden, give a little thought to adding some distinctive color to your lot. Even a little bit of effort here makes a big difference, and a house with some brightly-colored blossoms is going to stand out over a house with a featureless grass lawn, no matter how well-maintained it is. You don't need to do much to make a difference this way. A few well-chosen planters close to your house can make all the difference in the world.
If you have a porch or a deck that faces the street, make sure that it's presentable. This means keeping up with staining and sealing it in order to preserve its appearance. If you're dealing with a deck that's already been poorly treated, consider a paint job to cover up the unappealing, weathered structure. This is a much cheaper solution than replacing a weathered deck, and by making a smart color choice you can really draw the eye to your deck.
One way to make your home look much more distinctive without spending huge amounts of money is to make an effort to brighten up your windows. Window treatments should make your home stand out. White trim is common, but see if you can do something a little more impressive by selecting a different, bright color that coordinates well with your exterior paint. Putting up shutters is also a great touch. If you do decide to add shutters, spend the extra money to get real, operable ones. Shutters that are simply stuck on walls next to windows are tacky.
It should be clear from some of the above tips that maintenance is extremely important to maintaining curb appeal. You should invest the time and money necessary to keep your home's exterior pristine. This means doing all the appropriate seasonal yard work, giving your exterior paint work frequent touch-ups and new coats, and repairing any damage as soon as it occurs. Keep an eye on the condition of your roof in particular. A dilapidated roof can spoil the effect of an otherwise scrupulously-maintained property.
There's no reason for you to feel guilty about working hard on your home's appearance. It's far more than a simple vanity project. Curb appeal is a real factor in the resale value of your home, and while maintaining it takes plenty of work, it's a lot easier than letting matters slide and then moving heaven and earth to repair your home's exterior when you're finally ready to sell. Invest the effort to keep your curb appeal up and minimize the amount of trouble it gives you down the road.