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15 ways to enhance your community’s curb appeal this spring

Community Associations

Prospective buyers love walking into a beautifully renovated home—but it’s tough to get people in the door to see stunning interior improvements if they’re turned off by what they see outside. That’s why community associations should never underestimate the importance of curb appeal.

Spring is a great time to help the associations you manage to take control of their curbside appearance. Small tweaks and light investments can really move the needle in terms of increasing property values and attracting quality homeowners to the neighborhood.

Here are 15 ways to improve your community association’s curb appeal this spring.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #1: Take a Step Back

Walk across the street and take a good look at the community. What will others see when they first pull up? Be hypercritical. Someone new to the property may notice flaws that you’ve grown accustomed to over time.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step#2: Develop an Enforceable Architectural Policy

Most associations have basic design and architectural standards in place. Can yours be tightened up without undue disruption or costs? For instance, changing parking regulations could remove unsightly vehicles. Similarly, new rules around flags or signage could make front yards look less cluttered. Amend the architectural policy as needed to improve your community association’s curb appeal.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #3: Engage Homeowners in the Conversation

Association boards often make the mistake of assuming all control for community rules, regulations, and budgetary decisions without engaging other homeowners in the conversation. To improve your community association’s curb appeal effectively, you should aim to get residents’ buy-in. One approach is to form a committee of association members that makes landscaping recommendations. Who knows—you could have a resident who’s a landscape architect with loads of untapped potential!

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #4: Plan Ahead

Some beautification projects have a long lead time. For instance, if you want to reconstruct a stone wall that wraps around the entrance of the community, this could cost several thousand dollars.

Projects that seem cost-prohibitive now are easier to manage when the association sets aside funds over a longer period of time. Maybe it’s a project that the board decides to undertake three years from now, setting aside funds incrementally in the meantime.

Even smaller improvements (like seasonal flowers) cost money, so be sure that the association budgets accordingly each year. The budget should include any additional landscaping, maintenance, water, and other necessities.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #5: Pressure-Wash the Property

From one season to the next, properties can take a beating. This spring, pressure-wash each building. Clean off exterior walls, concrete areas, trim, and signage. Encourage homeowners to do the same with their own properties. You can either rent a pressure washer or, depending on the size of the community and the frequency with which you might need to pressure-wash, consider investing in a pressure washer to keep on-site (which you could make available to residents for a modest fee).

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #6: Resurface Parking Lots

Re-tarring and repainting can go a long way in making a community look new again. If you can’t resurface parking lots and streets, at least re-stripe them when the lines begin to fade.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #7: Upgrade & Repair Irrigation Systems

This is one of the bigger-ticket items that a community association may want to consider investing in this spring. Irrigation lines start to corrode over time, something that happens more frequently in areas where pipes freeze and thaw with the seasons.

Cracks, breaks, and clogged lines can lead to costly repairs for an association if not addressed in advance. In addition, plants won’t be properly watered with leaky irrigation systems, so any major investments the association makes in landscaping could be at risk if water can’t properly reach it.

This spring, have a landscaping company evaluate the community’s irrigation system. How well is it performing? Is it time to make repairs or upgrades? If so, the board should consider putting money towards that now before it becomes a bigger problem down the line.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #8: Reconsider Grassy Areas

Yes, we all love lawns. After all, what looks better than well-groomed grass during the spring and summer? But consider whether the association really has the time and resources to maintain it. This is particularly true in hot weather climates, where droughts are common and water prices can escalate quickly.

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If this sounds like any associations you manage, maybe it’s time for a change. Alternative uses for large grassy areas include additional parking, tennis or basketball courts, storage units, an outdoor pavilion, or an indoor recreation room.

In addition, where there are noticeable footpaths in the grass, consider installing walkways.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #9: Weed & Mulch

One of the easiest ways to improve your community association’s curb appeal this spring is to enlist a team of people to get to work with a few basic landscaping tools. Weed the property; pull out any overgrown greenery; and while you’re at it, weed-whack unruly areas. Edge all hedges and spread fresh mulch around plants and in garden beds. It will make the property look beautiful upon arrival.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #10: Invest in Lighting

How does the community look at night? Warm, effective lighting is essential. You never know when a realtor is going to bring a prospective homebuyer to look at a property that’s for sale!

Not only does good lighting make a community feel more inviting—it also helps to deter crime and keep the property safer for residents. Second, light sells. Consider using rope lighting to add definition or draw the eye to attractive features.

Is there an outdoor common area? Consider hanging string lights or Edison bulbs—the latest trend in lighting. If you have a flagpole, light up the flag. You might also want to add soft lighting along main entryways and walkways to prevent people from stumbling as they walk around the property.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #11: Repair Community Fencing

Is the fence around the community missing a few panels or swaying in the wind? One way to improve your community association’s curb appeal is by repairing fencing. Once it’s repaired, consider staining or white-washing wooden fencing—both of which can help the fence look better and last longer.

Many communities are turning to more durable vinyl fencing in common areas, which needs little to no maintenance. Vinyl fencing may be less charming, but it reduces issues like pest infestation and rotting that can compromise wood fencing over time.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #12: Trash the Trash

If someone comes to tour the community and finds litter all over the place, what sort of impression will that leave about how the association is managed? (Not a good one!) Be sure to eliminate all trash around the property. Pay special attention to trash on days before and after trash collection days, as trash can easily fall out of an overloaded dumpster before or during garbage collection.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #13: Hone in on a Coherent Color Scheme

A common pitfall for community associations is that one committee decides to implement a color scheme, another committee makes tweaks, and another doesn’t realize that a color scheme was ever created. Instead, encourage the association board to pick a color scheme and stick to it. This will really improve your community association’s curb appeal.

We typically recommend neutral colors with selective pops of color. For instance, you might paint a prominent door red or plant colorful flowers against an otherwise neutral background. Take advantage of color theory and trend research when deciding which color scheme is right for your community association.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #14: Check Address & Building Numbering

Pretend you’ve never been to the community before—or better yet, enlist the help of a colleague who’s never been to the property. How easy is it to navigate the community? Are the building numbers clear and visible both during the day and at night? If not, improve numbering to improve your community association’s curb appeal and navigability this spring.

How to Improve Your Community Association’s Curb Appeal

Step #15: Boost CC&R Enforcement

Despite the association’s best efforts, the community’s curb appeal will continue to suffer if the board is too lax about enforcing the community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). The association should enforce all CC&Rs consistently. Otherwise, resident behavior could have the unintended consequence of dragging down property values for other owners and the association as a whole.

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Collectively, these 15 steps can really help you to improve your community association’s curb appeal this spring. First impressions are everything in finding and keeping high-quality residents!

Amanda Maher

Amanda Maher

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

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