5 cost-effective ways to boost your property’s curb appeal

Amanda Maher
Amanda Maher | 6 min. read

Published on April 5, 2018

They say that first impressions are everything. For property managers looking to attract and retain residents, improving a property’s curb appeal is a great place to start. That way, when a prospect pulls up, they’re immediately impressed. It also makes residents feel proud of where they live—which could influence their decision to stick around in the long run.

Best of all, enhancing your property’s curb appeal doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Property managers and landlords don’t need to invest tens of thousands of dollars in landscaping upgrades to make a difference.

Here are five cost-effective ways to boost your property’s curb appeal to get you started.

Pressure-Wash the Exterior

Over time, dirt and mildew build up on the outside of a home. It happens little by little, so sometimes it’s hard to notice how bad it’s become. It’s amazing what a good scrub-down can do.

If you don’t already own one, rent a pressure washer and blast all exterior surfaces of your property. Pressure-washing is affordable and can have a transformative effect on your property. While you’re at it, pressure-wash the front walkways, patios, fences, pool decks, and driveways. Not only will pressure-washing beautify your property, it can also extend the lifespan of these outdoor elements.

Pressure-washing is relatively affordable, even if you decide to hire a professional. On average, it costs $100 to $300 to pressure-wash a house. It costs another $80 to $200 to pressure-wash a driveway, and about $250 to $500 to pressure-wash a deck or patio. If you have multiple properties in your rental portfolio, you might consider buying your own pressure washer to use year after year.

Clean Up the Yard

We’ve had a particularly brutal winter, with storm after storm battering rental properties from coast to coast. Look around and you’ll probably see tree limbs down. It’s time to put a dent in the mess with a bit of outdoor clean-up.

Pick up loose branches; prune shrubs; rake leaves and other debris; mow the lawn; weed overgrown gardens; and throw down a layer of topsoil or mulch to make flower beds pop. You may have a very appealing outdoor area, but if it’s hidden under debris and weeds, nobody will notice! These simple fixes will do wonders for the appearance of your property, and they often don’t cost a dime—just a little time and elbow grease.

Invest in Lighting

People often tour rental properties in the evening after work, so you’ll want to be sure that your building is well-lit. You don’t want your home’s best features obscured by shadows. Cast your home in a more favorable light with a few lighting techniques.

Use a combination of uplighting and downlighting. Uplighting points light upward to a focal point above; downlighting does the opposite. A combination of the two adds dimension and depth to a property. Wall lighting and sconces can also be incorporated to softly illuminate a walkway or entrance.

Be sure not to overdo it with lighting. Fixtures should create a focal point and a warm, welcoming vibe. Designers often suggest mimicking moonlight: Only illuminate your front yard as intensely as the moon would on a clear night. It should be enough to cast shadows without looking like a Hollywood movie set.

Add Some Color

Make your property pop with a few bursts of color. The spring is a great time to add colorful flowers to your front yard gardens or flower boxes. We also like accenting the front door or walkway with hanging plants. Hanging plants are easy to maintain and can be taken in during bad weather. Use colors that complement the color of your home, such as purple flowers for a yellow home, or bright flowers for a white building.

Another easy way to add a pop of color is by painting the front door of the property to create eye-catching contrast and dimension. Consider a bold red or deep blue (depending on the color of your home, of course). Start by cleaning the door and removing all hardware. Next, be sure to use a paint that’s designed specifically for exterior doors. You’ll want a paint that’s fade-, water-, and scuff-resistant. It’s amazing how much wear and tear front doors take! Top it off with a cheerful doormat to welcome prospective and current residents.

Make Repairs

Take a step back—literally. Walk across the street and take a good, hard look at your property. What do you notice? Is the front deck sagging? Does the driveway need to be resealed? Are your walkway pavers even? These areas can really show wear and tear over time. Unsightly tree stumps or cracked pavement can be a major turn-off. Make these repairs a priority if you want to make a good first impression. Someone may love the idea of having an old stone wall around the property, but if that stone wall is crumbling, it may indicate that the owner isn’t keeping up with routine maintenance.

Finish it all off by replacing your old, dented mailbox. Replace it with a charming new mailbox that adds character and boosts curb appeal—possibly for as little as $20.

Learn 5 ways to improve your property's curb appeal before leasing season—for less than you'd think! Share on X

Now that’s it’s officially spring, there’s no better time to invest in a few low-cost home improvements to boost your rental property’s curb appeal. Most of the projects listed above can be accomplished over the course of a weekend for only a few hundred dollars. That time and money can translate into even bigger gains when you consider the impact it’ll have on attracting (and retaining!) high-quality tenants.

Read more on Maintenance & Improvements
Amanda Maher

Amanda Maher is a self-proclaimed policy wonk who dabbles in real estate law. She holds a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University, as well as a master's in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern.

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