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Freshen curb appeal to sell your home

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | May 19, 2014

When you're house hunting, sometimes you just know. Sometimes you pull up to the house with that 'for sale' sign in front and see a place you could come home to. You can envision pulling into the drive, walking down the sidewalk to get the mail, sitting on the porch swing, or enjoying that big deck. That first impression can make the difference between buying a house or driving right past it.

If you're looking to sell your house, these home remodel ideas can give you the curb appeal that wows potential buyers -- and in the meantime, it gives you a fantastic look that you can definitely live with.

Revamp the entrance

The front door is a gateway to everything within, so it should reflect the good things that will come with calling this house a home. Installing a new entry door can be done within a day, offers an immediate visual upgrade, and maybe an upgrade in security, too.

Have you considered going with steel or fiberglass? According to Remodeling Magazine's 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, a steel entry door will run about $1,162 on average, and your return on investment will be a whopping 96.6 percent when you sell the property -- not a bad choice! A fiberglass door is a bit pricier, at $2,822, with a return on investment of about 70 percent.

Make a place to play

Creating such a beautiful exterior entices potential buyers to look at outdoor potential. What better way to foster that idea than with a great deck? Even a small patio or deck will do, but to get more bang for your buck, choose a deck that is an extension of the indoor living space. Choosing a 16x20 composite deck can run an average of $15,437, while a wood deck of similar size can set you back by $9,539. The return on investment for both is relatively good, at over 74 percent for composite and over 87 percent for wood. Expect construction to go on for a week or more.

Want something that can be enjoyed in all seasons? A sunroom is a sure bet. However, this is one of the most expensive projects you can undertake for curb appeal, at a national average cost of $73,546. A sunroom is major construction that could take several weeks to complete. Since you might recoup an average of about 52 percent of the cost, make sure that your house has other great selling points -- and that you get some time to enjoy that sunroom yourself before the house is snatched up by an eager buyer.

Landscape, then light it up

Don't have the budget for these types of improvements? You can change the atmosphere of your home's exterior with well-placed lighting and landscaping. Few things are more inviting than a well-tended pathway to the handsome front door -- the sight evokes a place that you will want to come home to time and time again.

A lighted driveway entrance, footlights along the sidewalks, and spotlights that showcase architectural details or beautiful trees can add a 'wow' factor to your property.Many potential buyers will see your home in the evening hours - even if they're just driving by to see where the property is - when the lighting can make or break a first impression.

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, the rule of thumb is to invest 10 to 20 percent of your home's total value in landscaping. When it's sold, the landscaping can recoup 100 to 200 percent of your investment. Talk about a great return for curb appeal! Depending upon the extent of the landscaping, work could take anywhere from one day to several weeks.

Whether you have a budget that knows no bounds or you are pinching pennies, these home remodel ideas are a great starting point for creating the curb appeal that will sell your house -- and maybe even make you fall in love with it all over again.