Increasing Curb Appeal on the Cheap
If a home’s lack of curb appeal crushes an applicant’s hopes, is ‘curb stomped’ the appropriate term?
The best way to get a tenant into a rental home is to set the home up to rent itself. (That, and have a good ad writer to make sure the applicants see the house the same way you do!) That means making sure the house is clean, fresh, in good repair, and comes across that way to all five senses– okay four as no one should be tasting a rental home.
More importantly, the house should also look as attractive as possible from the outside. Not only is the curb appeal important to the applicant’s first impression at the showing, but it’s also generally the first picture they see of the property as they browse online for places to look into. A house that has an obvious flaw in that first picture, even if everything else about it looks great, is going to get skipped over by most potential applicants. So how do you accomplish that goal with a minimal investment?
Before you worry about any of the further tips below, you have to make sure that your house is at least…normal-looking. Houses that stand out with bright colors or whatever are OK — what you can’t have is a house that clearly has no windows, or no front door (either because it’s been boarded up or because there’s literally no door on the front side of the house). So do whatever investments you need to do to get your house up to the basic expectations your applicants will have, then worry about further improving curb appeal with the tips below.
A full-body paint job for a home can run a few thousand bucks, but keeping a stock of basic white, tan, and brown paint on hand to paint the trim, shutters, and (if relevant) the front door can do 70% of the job for an hour or two’s labor costs plus some $30 in paint that you can generally keep in stock and use for most of the houses you touch up pre-showing.
Similarly, taking the hardware off of the front door (we’re including the screen door as ‘hardware’ if relevant) and spray-painting it with the appropriate kind of metal spray paint is a cheap detail that adds a lot to the look of a house from the curb. Performing the same treatment on the address numbers (using the same color as long as they’ll appropriately stand out afterward) is a good idea in many cases as well — use your discretion.
Even More Paint
If you have an electric box, a cable setup, or some other hardware hanging out on the outside of the house and making it look ugly, consider how difficult it would be to paint them to match the exterior. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not.
Landscaping that looks ill-tended is a surefire way to lead an applicant to think the whole property is ill-tended…and vice versa. Hiring someone for an hour or two to trim shrubs, plant a small tree, or install flower boxes can give your rental the look of a house someone cares about. In turn, your tenant will be more likely to care about it as well.
Seriously, you don’t realize just how much of what you’re looking at is filth until you’ve blasted it all away. If you don’t own a pressure washer, it’s pretty inexpensive to rent one. Or you can hire a professional. However you choose to get it done, the difference can be night and day.
Remember, the important part in all of this is convincing an applicant that the house is valued. Because the obvious conclusion is that something valued must be valuable, which must mean it’s worth having…which means they’re more likely to move in.