From first dates to job interviews, first impressions matter. And when it comes to selling your home, that initial glimpse of its exterior is a big deal. In fact, according to a University of Texas at Arlington study published in The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, curb appeal can account for up to 7 percent of a home’s value. So it’s important to put your home’s best face forward.

Curb appeal is the way your home looks from the outside, and how attractive it is to anyone who passes by. To assess your home’s curb appeal, look at the front of your home and take it in from the perspective of someone seeing it for the first time. The color and condition of the exterior, the landscaping and the overall maintenance of the property all contribute to its curb appeal.

This crucial first impression has a big impact when you list your home for sale. “Curb appeal is probably one of the most important and effective tools in selling a home,” says Yawar Charlie, a Los Angeles-based agent with luxury brokerage the Aaron Kirman Group.

8 ways to boost curb appeal

Improving your home’s curb appeal can help you bring in the buyers and get top dollar for your sale — especially if you sell during the peak spring/summer season. Here are eight tips to try:

1. Repaint the house

A dingy exterior can make your home unappealing to potential buyers before they even step inside. One of the best ways to refresh it is with a new coat of paint: “A full exterior paint job can go a long way, especially if the paint has faded or is chipping,” says Reese Stewart, a Realtor with RE/MAX Properties SW in Orlando, Florida. “While this can be costly, it can make all the difference.”

Cost: Between $6,242 and $11,617, according to Fixr, a home remodeling resource.

2. Repaint just the doors

Even freshening up outside entryways with new paint can have an impact. Zillow’s 2023 paint color analysis found that buyers would offer more than $3,300 less for a home with a bland cement-gray front door than one with a bold black front door. “Painting just the front door or the garages can help spruce up the entry point, since it’s one of the first things potential buyers see,” says Stewart.

Cost: Between $112 and $205, according to Fixr. But most homeowners can probably do it themselves for less.

3. Clean the windows

If a potential buyer is put off by filthy windows, they may not want to see what sits inside them, even if the interior of your home is actually well taken care of. “Giving windows a good scrubbing is an easy and inexpensive way to give your home that sparkling look,” says Stewart.

Cost: Between $190 and $460 for professional window washers, per Fixr. But if you DIY, this project will cost you nothing but water, cleaning supplies and a little elbow grease.

4. Refresh the landscaping

Full professional landscaping can definitely improve the appeal of your home in a buyer’s eyes, but it isn’t cheap. Luckily, small and economical upgrades, like a few cheerful flowerpots here and there, can also help a lot. “Take a step back and see if you need to repot some flowers or replace some bushes,” says Stewart. “Even some new mulch can go a long way.”

Cost: Between $8,000 and $15,000 for a pro job, per Fixr. But if you have a rake and a lawn mower, you can spruce things up for almost nothing. Adding a few inexpensive pre-potted plants and flowers to the walkway or porch will also add color and pop to the entry area (and you can take them with you after you sell).

5. Power wash the driveway

For many houses, the driveway is front-and-center. And years of leaves, rain and snow can wreak havoc on its surface, especially if it’s concrete. “If your driveway is discolored, get it power washed,” Charlie says. If there are a lot of unsightly bumps, gouges and cracks, you might even want to spring for having it resurfaced.

Cost: Between $180 and $240, per Fixr. If you want to do it yourself, you should be able to rent one from your local home-improvement store for less than $100 per day.

6. Tidy up the lighting

Clean, functional and well-placed exterior lighting not only looks nice, but also can be an important safety and security feature. At the very least, inspect and refurbish the outdoor lighting you have. “Make sure that it is clear of cobwebs and dust and that the bulbs are still working,” Stewart says. “It can ensure your home is well-lit if any potential buyers visit around sunset or drive by at night.” If there are some too-dark areas, consider installing another fixture or two, or installing a motion sensor that turns on the light when someone approaches.

Cost: Between $350 and $500 to install outdoor motion-sensor lights, according to Fixr.

7. Fix the roof and gutters

The look of your roof can be a sticking point for buyers, as can its condition (with good reason). If there are broken roof shingles or other visible issues, or if your gutters are sagging or not properly secured, it’s best to take care of them with the help of a professional before they come up during the home inspection.

Cost: Between $400 and $2,000 for roof repair and between $218 and $396 for gutter repair, per Fixr.

8. Upgrade the mailbox

It’s small but significant. The mailbox is one of the first things a prospective buyer will see when they arrive at your home: “If your mailbox is faded or is looking worse for the wear, it’s time for an upgrade,” Stewart says. “It might be a small project, but it’s one that can help improve overall curb appeal.”

Cost: If your mailbox just needs to be cleaned or painted, the cost is next to nothing. If it needs to be replaced, you can find very inexpensive mailbox-and-post kits at your local home-improvement store.

Common curb appeal mistakes

Once you have an idea of which curb appeal projects to tackle, you don’t want to waste time or money. Here are some common goofs to avoid:

  • Going overboard: Don’t get caught up in making every upgrade possible. “One of the common mistakes I find when it comes to curb appeal is a homeowner doing too much,” Charlie says. “There can be such a thing as too many trees or too many flowers.” Stewart provides an example: “While a full garden may look beautiful to a seller, potential buyers may see it as difficult for upkeep.”
  • Undertaking projects with no return on investment (ROI): A feature you may love could be seen as a liability to the next potential owner. One prime example is the installation of a lawn water feature like a fountain: “Fountains are beautiful to look at and create a very relaxing environment, but they cost more and are a recurring cost through their water consumption,” says David Steckel, a home expert at Thumbtack. “There is no ROI to a fountain.”
  • Making bold changes: Stick to neutral shades for things like kitchen and bath tile, and especially for exterior paint. “One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is painting their homes a loud, outrageous color,” Charlie says. “Veer toward more of a classic look that will appeal to a variety of people.”
  • Not consulting your HOA: If you live in a home governed by a homeowners association, confirm that your planned upgrades are within its rules. “Sellers should check the bylaws before making any improvements that must go through the HOA for review,” Stewart says.

Quick tips for hiring a home pro

If you’re hiring a professional to execute any of your curb appeal ideas, remember to:

  • Check online reviews: Look to see what past clients say about the contractor you’re considering.
  • Ask for recommendations: Real estate agents, friends, neighbors and family members can be great resources for finding good home pros.
  • Get a firm bid, in writing: To make sure there are no surprises when it comes time to pay your bill, ask for a bid rather than an estimate. An estimate is like window shopping, says Charlie, but a bid puts hard numbers to the project. “When you decide to use a vendor, make sure that they give you a final bid for what the work is going to cost, so there are no surprises down the line,” he says.