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Curb appeal keeps look of home in top shape

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to your house, that's not quite true.

How your home looks on the outside -- otherwise known as "curb appeal" -- matters.

"Your home's curb appeal is many people's first impression of your home," said Arden C. Hains, an agent with Weichert, Realtors-Engle & Hambright. "Many people pride themselves on their homes and try to make them look their best, so that when friends and family stop by, they are impressed by the home."

Curb appeal also matters to the people who live around you, she said.

"Many neighbors are friendlier to you if you take care of the outside of your home," Hains explained. "No one wants to be 'that' neighbor, the one who's dragging down neighborhood values and dragging down the look of the neighborhood."

"The outside of your home is a direct reflection on your entire property," said Ryan Lukas, of Sun & Shade Landscape and Lawn Care.

So what if your home could use a little help? If you're looking to improve your home's curb appeal, there are some simple and inexpensive options.

"First and foremost, clear your yard of clutter; clean out debris in your flower beds; pull weeds; paint any faded or peeling paint, any rusting surfaces, etc.," Hains said. "These are simple fixes that can make all the difference in the world."

When you're looking to improve the appearance of your house, look down first, said Travis Mitchell, landscape foreman for Sandy Ridge Excavating.

"Your front lawn is an important aspect of your general overall home appeal," he said. "A nice green lawn goes a long way."

Take a look at your yard and determine areas to improve.

"Try to accentuate the positive aspects of your house and hide the areas you don't want people to see, like where you keep your garbage cans," he said. "You can hide that with plants or a small fence or even a trellis with some vines."

He also emphasized the importance of trimming and pruning plants.

"Remove shrubs that have outlived their life span and are now encroaching on your home and the rest of your landscape," he said. "Add perennials and annuals for color with evergreens for color throughout the year."

And make sure your front walkway is inviting to visitors, Mitchell said.

"You want to prune and trim plants away from the walkway so it's a clear path to your home."

Curb appeal matters not just to the homeowner but to the person looking to sell a home as well, Hains said.

"Let's face it, first impressions are everything," she said. "Many buyers will do a 'drive-by' of a home they are potentially interested in, and often will judge the home by the exterior, and much of the decision to look at the inside is derived from that first impression."

The good thing, she said, is that no matter what condition your home is in right now, it's never too late to get started.

"Curb appeal can most often be obtained by a few simple fixes," she said. "Curb appeal is not only important to those looking to sell their house, but also for those who take pride in their homes and want others to know that."