Home ownership is well documented to be one of the strongest sources of wealth. Whether by taking advantage of property's reliable tendency to appreciate in value, or by wading into the growing rental market, home ownership is a potent tool for building your financial security.
The trade-off is the increased responsibility that comes with ownership. You can't call the landlord to fix a burst pipe or a leaky roof. You are the landlord now.
We've written before about some essential home repair skills every homeowner should master. Now we'd like to share some tips to boost your curb appeal on a budget.
You'll Reap What You Sow
Everyone should know the importance of curb appeal. It's common sense that you'll have a hard time maximizing rent or sale profits if the first thing you see of a property is an eyesore.
But exterior remodeling is an expensive and daunting prospect. You'll get a far bigger bang for your buck from improving your landscaping. Surveys show that even modest upgrades to your lawn and garden can increase your home's value by 10-12%.
To help maximize your gains, here are three cost-effective tips.
1. The More Mulch, the Merrier
Deweeding and mulching your planting beds are both inexpensive and grant significant returns on your investments. Doing so will make your outdoor areas look freshly tended to, and add a little color in areas that may otherwise be lacking.
The best part is that mulching requires very little in terms of time or money. Mulch only costs about two-to-five dollars apiece, and all the work it takes it spending a few bags of the stuff neatly over your beds. Depending on how much space you have to cover, it shouldn't cost more than $10-$20.
2. Give Your Lawn a Neat Trim and Edging
Edging your lawn is another quick and cheap way to way to add some instant curb appeal. Edgers do exactly what you would imagine, cleaning up the hard to reach areas that mowers tend to miss.
Generally, the problem areas will be wherever your lawn meets fencing or pavement. Make sure your grass is deweeded to help clarify where the edges are supposed to lie. If you know that you will have an open house or a showing in the future, it would be worth the time to start edging a couple of months in advance.
Big box hardware store rent edgers for a few hours for as little as $30, making this a cheap way to tidy up your front lawn.
3. Decorate Your Lawn
While pink flamingos and lawn gnomes have their campy charms, they likely won't add much to your home value. However, some basic decoration will work wonders on enhancing your curb appeal.
Basic cedar posts with solar-powered light caps along a walkway are a cheap, low maintenance option to add a little bit of life to your lawn. Another quick and fairly cheap option is to upgrade outdated fixtures. Replacing old, worn mailboxes, house numbers and the like with something fresh and modern can instantly make your property look more current and attractive.
Small changes like these have the benefit of requiring minimal maintenance compared to more extensive landscaping projects. Manicured flower beds and shrubberies look nice, but they get expensive quickly, and maintaining them can become an ongoing project.
Maximizing Curb Appeal on a Budget
Ultimately, the goal is to maximize the return on your investment. To that end, take a look at the surrounding neighborhood and try to match the standard set by your neighbors. In most cases, just keeping your property neat and well-maintained will meet your needs and give you the most curb appeal on a budget.
Check out our blog for more tips on managing your investment properties.