When adding curb appeal to your home, don’t overlook the neighbors

In this tough real estate market, anything you can do to make the exterior of your home look more inviting is worth considering.

And that includes putting up a fence to conceal a neighbor’s junky yard.

I had a client who was trying to sell his house. His home had curb appeal, but his next-door neighbor kept a rusting old pick-up truck parked in his side yard, along with a lot of junk. So my client offered to pay to build a fence around his neighbor’s yard. The neighbor agreed, and my client sold his home.

The lesson learned: Your home may look like a million dollars, but neighboring properties that are unsightly or in disrepair can drag your home’s value down. In that case, it’s in your own best interest, as well as your neighbor’s, to at least ask if they’re willing to improve the looks of their property. You must ask tactfully, of course, and be prepared to offer to pay for some or all of the curb appeal improvements.

Other steps you can take to improve your home’s curb appeal:

* Paint the exterior. If your home’s paint job is looking dull, add a fresh coat to spruce it up. Don’t go crazy with wild colors; keep it neutral and consistent with the neighborhood.

* Landscape. Plant flowers, pull up weeds, thin out trees and bushes, and make sure the grass is always mowed.

* Consider low-maintenance lawn alternatives. Turf grasses and ground covers can be an easy way to make your lawn more attractive. And lawn alternatives can be, ironically, ‘green’—eliminating the need for herbicides and gas-powered lawnmowers, for example.

HouseLogic.com has more information on turf grasses and ground covers.

* Upgrade old fixtures. Is your side porch light something out of the Leave it to Beaver era? If so, it’s time to upgrade.

* Power wash the house. Keep the house looking fresh with frequent power washing, including windows.

* Don’t forget the backyard. Think of your backyard as an extension of your home. The nicer it looks, the better the interior of your home looks—especially if you have a lot of windows facing the backyard. If you have a large backyard, consider adding a deck or patio to ‘bring’ the backyard and interior closer together.

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