Top 10 Curb Appeal Improvements with the Highest Return in 2024

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By Jared Lindstrom Updated June 26, 2024
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Edited by Steve Nicastro

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It might be cliche to say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but nowhere is this more true than when trying to sell your home.

Curb appeal can significantly impact the sale of your home — it's the first chance for potential buyers to fall in love with your property, and those first blushes of love (or hate) can affect the final price. A captivating and visually appealing exterior may convince reluctant buyers to come see what’s inside, but a scraggly, unkempt facade makes home shoppers drive right by.

What is curb appeal?

Curb appeal refers to the attractiveness of a property's exterior and how it appears to potential buyers or visitors from the street or sidewalk. It’s the overall appearance of the house, including:

  • Landscaping
  • Walkways
  • Driveway
  • Front porch
  • Paint color/trim
  • Fencing
  • Outdoor living features (patios, decks, etc.)
  • Quality of the exterior maintenance

Even the mailbox and front door matter. In short, anything that you can see from a car parked at the curb adds to or detracts from a home’s curb appeal. 

» Best home improvements to boost your home's value

Why does curb appeal matter?

Curb appeal makes you more money for your home when it’s time to sell. A study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that improving curb appeal was important to most realtors.

  • 79% of respondents thought curb appeal was the key to attracting buyers.
  • 94% of those realtors offer suggestions for improving curb appeal before listing a house.[1]

Updating curb appeal is at the top of the list for many realtors because a good first impression is vital. Andrew Fortune of Great Colorado Homes says, “First impressions are the most important part of the home presentation. The landscaping is paramount.”

How much does curb appeal add to home value?

The amount you’ll make on curb appeal projects varies from project to project, but sellers often see around a 7% increase in home value after updates. Most sellers earn close to a 100% ROI on landscape and hardscape projects, and homes in high-demand areas see the greatest return.[1]

Boosting your curb appeal is also affordable compared to home improvements like kitchen or bath remodels or replacing the flooring throughout your house. An agent survey from Homelight found that:

  • Investing around $3,500 in curb appeal can yield around $12,000 in increased value (238% ROI)
  • Basic yard care and adding fresh mulch can boost home value by $4,500
  • Fresh paint improves resale value by over $7,500 on average

Ultimately, the goal is to make prospective buyers want to come inside to look around. Any improvements you can make to improve your home’s first impression are a solid investment.

💡Curious what home improvements will get you the biggest return? Clever helps you compare local top real estate agents, get free listing advice, and save thousands on commission fees!

10 curb appeal enhancements with the highest ROI

Before ripping up your yard, it’s important to consider which updates and repairs will increase the value of your home, allowing you to sell for a higher price.

Keep in mind that the ROI of an improvement can vary by market. For example, for properties in the Texas area, a garage door upgrade yields a 149% ROI — nearly 54% below the national average.

Fortunately, you can improve your curb appeal on a tight budget, as Brian Durham from WeGo Real Estate explains, “to improve curb appeal, you can do less expensive things like plant brightly colored flowers and change the mulch. House and window washing, along with cleaning the concrete driveway and sidewalks, increase the value of a listing by an average of $10,000.”

Simple tasks such as cleaning up the yard and planting flowers or shrubs can make a significant difference, and many curb appeal updates are DIY-friendly. Here are some options with the highest ROI.

1. Freshen up your landscape

Average cost: $4,800 | Estimated ROI: 104%

Annual mulch application, mowing 2,835 square feet of lawn, pruning shrubs, and planting approximately 60 perennials or annuals.

Source: National Association of Realtors Research Group

Clever Real Estate’s recent survey found that 23% of home sellers updated their landscaping before listing. And data from NAR revealed that 74% of realtors recommend upgrades before selling.

“Any extra money in a remodeling budget should go straight into landscaping, whether adding a single small flower bed or a major outdoor feature like a patio,” says Martin Orefice, a property investor and CEO of Rent To Own Labs. "These improvements always bring a good return on your investment."

2. Take care of basic yard work

Average cost: $340-415 | Estimated ROI: 217-539%

Six standard seasonal applications of fertilizer and/or weed control on 5,000 square feet of lawn

Sources: Homelight, National Association of Realtors Research Group

Basic yard care is an easy way to boost curb appeal and often has a substantial ROI. Over 50% of REALTORS® recommend basic lawn care before selling to maximize home value.

Adam Graham, a market analyst at Fixr.com, views yard work as the best course of action when there’s no time or money for significant improvements and that “regular front yard upkeep can attract more visitors and leave a more favorable impression.”

3. Upgrade your entry door

Average cost: $2,355-11,353 | Estimated ROI: 97.4-118.1%

Steel door or grand entrance installation

Source: Remodeling

Replacing your front door with an updated steel option is a durable upgrade and can freshen the exterior. This simple change can also add around $4,500 to your home’s value on average. 

“Improvements to features such as garage and entry door replacement, the addition of stone veneer, fiber cement siding upgrade, among others, also increase the curb appeal of a home while adding to its durability,” says the CEO at Property Saviour, Saddat Abid.

If you live in a higher-end neighborhood, you may also want to consider a grand entrance. These larger entryways maximize natural light inside the home with extra panes of glass, but the ROI tends to be slightly lower than that of a steel front door install.

4. Add stone veneer to the front of your house

Average cost: $11,287 | Estimated ROI: 153.2%

Replace a 300-square-foot continuous band of vinyl siding with adhered manufactured stone veneer, including 36 linear feet (LF) of sills, 40 LF of corners, and one address block.

Source: Remodeling

Manufactured stone veneer adds a touch of natural-looking materials and ruggedness to your home. This option is less budget-friendly than other options on the list, but Remodeling’s 2024 Cost vs. Value Report shows that it increases home value by over $17,000 on average.

5. Replace your garage door

Average cost: $2,000-4,513 | Estimated ROI: 100-193.9%

Remove and dispose of the existing 16x7-foot garage door and tracks. Install a new four-section garage door on new heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks; reuse the motorized opener.

Source: National Association of Realtors Research Group, Remodeling

Old garage doors showing signs of damage detract from curb appeal. Installing a new garage door not only improves the look of your home, but many also come with a lifetime warranty and insulation that improves energy efficiency.

NAR found that 23% of homeowners who replace their garage doors plan on selling their homes in the next two years, and a garage door replacement adds nearly $9,000 to home value.

6. Add a deck

Average cost: $17,615-24,206 | Estimated ROI: 82.9-68.2%

Add 16x20-foot deck using pressure-treated joists supported by 4x4-inch posts anchored to concrete piers. Install wood or composite deck material in a simple linear pattern. 

Source: Remodeling

Installing a new deck is pricey, but outdoor living spaces can increase your home’s attractiveness to new buyers. And if you’re replacing an old, worn-out deck, it will make your backyard safer.

Choosing composite decking over wood has pros, like a longer lifespan, but you may be better off with wood if you make pre-sale improvements. The Remodeling report found that composite decking costs nearly $7,000 more to install, adding less than $2,000 to home value over wood decks.

7. Update your siding

Average cost: $17,410-20,169 | Estimated ROI: 80.2-88.4%

Replace 1,250 square feet with vinyl or primed and painted fiber-cement siding

Source: Remodeling

If you own an older home or have damaged siding, upgrading to new vinyl or fiber-cement siding can add around $14,000-18,000 to your home’s value (according to Remodeling). Fiber-cement siding is more expensive but has a higher ROI due to increased durability.

8. Add an outdoor kitchen

Average cost: $15,000 | Estimated ROI: 100%

Install one inset grill, stainless steel drawers, an ice chest, a sink, and 60 square feet of concrete countertop made from veneered masonry stone.

Source: National Association of Realtors Research Group

Homeowners with a bigger budget may want to improve their outdoor living appeal with an outdoor kitchen. This option gives potential buyers another place to host guests and spend time with family.

NAR found that most homeowners see a 100% return on outdoor kitchen builds with a $15k increase in value, and 34% of landscape professionals had more demand for outdoor kitchen installs in 2023.

9. Add a patio

Average cost: $10,500 | Estimated ROI: 95%

Install a backyard 18x16ft concrete paver patio, dry set over compacted gravel and sand base. Paving material at $7-10 per square foot.

Source: National Association of Realtors Research Group

According to NAR, 85% of homeowners with a backyard paver patio have an increased sense of enjoyment at home. Patios also have an outstanding return on investment, with an added value of around $10,000.

Clever’s True Cost of Selling a Home Survey found that 23% of recent homeowners had a deck or patio repair/replacement before selling to improve curb appeal.

10. Paint your home's exterior

Average cost: $3,000 | Estimated ROI: 152%

Professionally painted

Source: Homelight

Painting is a great value-add for those with a smaller budget or looking for a DIY project — around a $7,500 increase. Dudi Shamir, real estate investor and founder of Proven House Buyers recommends a fresh coat of paint on the exterior of your home if money is tight.

The NAR Remodeling Impact Report found that 52% of homeowners thought new exterior paint increased their homes' functionality and livability, while Clever’s report discovered that 29% of recent sellers painted before selling.

Other ways to improve curb appeal

Realtors agree that investing time and effort in improving your home's curb appeal can help attract potential buyers, increase the value of your property, and ultimately lead to a faster home sale.

However, it may not be possible to calculate a dollar-for-dollar return on investment for each project you undertake. Sometimes, the complete picture — and not the individual enhancements — contributes to the overall boost in value you get from curb appeal.

Some DIY projects can positively impact your home's first impression.

1. Repair and repaint

Repair any visible damages to your exterior, such as cracks in the walkway or missing roof shingles. Repaint your front door, shutters, trim, and fence pickets if they look faded or chipped. Replace any shutters or trim that are beyond repair.

2. Upgrade your mailbox

Your mailbox is often one of the first things visitors see at your home. If it’s old and rusty, replace it or repaint it to match your home.

3. Add outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting adds a welcoming touch to your home and provides additional security. Install porch, pathway, or accent lights to highlight your landscape.

4. Clean your windows and siding

Windows and siding are expensive to replace, and prospective buyers want to see that yours have been cared for. Power wash your siding and windows to remove dirt, grime, or cobwebs.

5. Upgrade your hardware

While leaving plenty of space for home buyers to see themselves in your home is important, little touches add personality and make your home pop. Replace any outdated or rusted hardware, such as doorknobs, handles, or house numbers, to give your home a fresh look. This is an affordable update that goes a long way.

Outdoor home improvements that may not add resale value

Many outdoor improvements offer an outstanding ROI and improve your home’s value, but there are some you should stay away from. Any renovation that prices you out of your neighborhood — expensive upgrades none of the other homes have that feature — may hurt more than help.

For example, adding a water feature to the front yard may look fabulous in a luxury neighborhood but might not fit the aesthetic elsewhere.

Here are some other examples of outdoor home improvements to avoid if you want to maximize resale value:

1. In-ground pools

The NAR found that while pools add joy to the home, you can only expect a 56% ROI when selling your house later. Pools can be a hard sell — especially in a neighborhood that doesn’t have many.

Saddat Abid of Property Saviour states, "a pool added where pools aren't very general could be considered more of a maintenance burden.”

2. Built-in fire features

While stacked-stone fire features are in higher demand, landscape professionals saw a 49% demand increase, and the ROI is only 56%, according to NAR. These features cost around $9,000 and only earn back $5k on average.

3. Landscape lighting

Exterior lighting can improve safety and beautify the exterior of your home at night, but they don’t make a noteworthy investment for resale. The NAR report found that landscape lighting costs homeowners around $6,800 and only adds $4,000 to the home’s value — a 59% ROI.

4. Solar panels

Increasing energy efficiency is often view positively, but solar panels only have a 10% ROI.[2] Andrew Fortune of Great Colorado Homes states that solar has the “worst resale value in Colorado.” So, if you want to add solar energy, do it for long-term energy savings, not return on investment.

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