Three words add up to increased curb appeal: cleaning, painting, and landscaping. Of the three, cleaning is easiest and should be tried first before more aggressive strategies. Not only are painting and landscaping more expensive, but you might need to supply detailed plans to an architectural review committee or other community review board. They could have veto power over your choices and could impose expensive requirements of their own.
That is why I recommend starting with a good cleaning. A brick house, or one with vinyl siding, can usually benefit from pressure washing. Pressure washers are so useful that I recommend you buy one rather than rent. You will find yourself using yours to clean vehicles, driveways, outdoor furniture, grills, and decks.
Cleaning a front yard means pruning out-of-control shrubberies and trees, re-sodding bare parts of the lawn, and removing any and all yard art. None of those things should require any committee approval.
The next step up is paint. Nothing dresses up a house faster than a fresh coat of paint. Flipping a house is not the time to go out on a limb with an exciting new color scheme. Stick to fairly traditional colors and color combinations. Look around the neighborhood to see what color schemes are popular and stay within that group.
Finally, changing the landscaping can completely transform a house. You can purchase landscaping software for under $50. I use
3D Garden Composer, which currently retails for $39. I can take digital photographs of my property, import them into the software, and then add a wide variety of plants, outdoor furniture, garden ornaments, fences, decks, walls, and walkways. I can grow my plants over many years to see what they will look like in the future. I can view the sun’s shade at different times of the day, and I can change the seasons to see seasonal colors. The software includes an extensive encyclopedia of plants, recommendations for your particular needs, and online ordering of plants to help you prepare a budget.