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Selling soon? 8 simple curb appeal projects for first-timers

There are three magic words that will make your home sell quickly and at the highest possible price. The first is location, for sure, but a close second is "curb appeal."

»RELATED: This is the best time to list your home for sale

While you can't exactly wave a magic wand to make your front yard, home exterior, or curb look instantly better, even a beginner can tackle inexpensive DIY projects.

Your mission: "Enhance your front yard so people will stop and stare after the first glance," advised DIY Network. "Adding curb appeal to your house not only makes it easier to sell, but it also gives your house that nice and finished look you can take pride in." 

Don't let your home's exterior be the last item you tackle before listing, because it's the first thing buyers see, advised Trulia's Robyn Woodman, a real estate broker and consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. 

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You don't necessarily have to invest heavily. "There are several inexpensive tactics that will kick your curb appeal up a notch," Woodman noted. She and other real estate and home design experts shared eight curb appeal projects you can DIY on a shoestring budget, even if you're a beginner:

The Ella adjustable door wreath hanger features a bronze square that can be personalized. Contributed by Pottery Barn

Dress up the front door

"Your home's front entry is the focal point of its curb appeal," according to Better Homes & Gardens. For almost zero cost, you can clean dirty spots around the front door knob and use metal polish on the door fixtures. Add extra oomph with a swag or wreath that reflects the home's interior (and your personal style).

Paint the front door

You don't necessarily need to paint your whole home to boost curb appeal. Instead, try painting the front door a bold color that makes your house stick out, DIY Network recommended. "Make sure to match it to the rest of the colors on your house," DIY added. Try an inviting color, like cool turquoise.

Install new house numbers

Try this for an easy entry to the world of curb appeal creation. Purchase new ones if your house has old or faded house numbers. Try to match your new house numbers with the finish that is on your exterior light fixtures, advised DIY. Simple house numbers can start at $2 per number and customized plaques cost $50-$100.

Keystone ornamentations accent the arched brick trim above garage doors and front windows of this brick 2-story home in Bellbrook. The rounded flower bed aside the walkway to the front door is mulched and planted with a dwarf tree, evergreens and bulbs that are already beginning to sprout. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY KATHY TYLER

Plant a tree

This is an "oldie but goodie" tactic for home sellers, but that's because it works. Choose a suitable tree that will be attractive whatever time of year you intend to sell the house. "Consider how big the tree will get and how it will affect your house," DIY recommended. "If you have enough space, try planting two trees to frame your house or your entryway." 

Mulch and mulch some more

Particularly at the beginning of the growing season or the end of the summer, flowers are dead and garden beds can be a bit of an eyesore, Woodman said. "One way to amplify aesthetics is to lay down a new layer of mulch. Besides adding eye candy, laying down a heavy layer of mulch protects your flowers and beds from harsher weather that's on the way." While organic mulches colored with vegetable dyes deliver a punch of color and are a choice you can feel good about, avoid them if you live in an area with lots of rain, since they fade quickly. If you're short on cash, opt for a more durable pine straw, wood chip or even pea gravel mulch.

Tile your doorstep

Better Homes & Gardens advised that this DIY project could take a weekend or more, but is worth every second in extra curb appeal. Looking for something simpler? "Create a permanent welcome mat by tiling or painting a design that contrasts with the porch floor or front stoop. Not only will you not have to worry about replacing the mat when it gets ratty, you can impress your visitors with your creativity."

Trim the house

"Beyond landscaping, you can also boost curb appeal by adding an extra layer of trim and molding to the windows and doors," Woodman noted. "Trim is like adding accessories to an outfit - it can elevate a basic house into something extraordinary." Add a layer of crown molding to the top of the home's current trim, employing a suitable design from simple Craftsman to more ornate Victorian motifs.

Paint the bricks

Spraying a layer of paint on bricks is one of the most extensive curb appeal projects a beginner can complete, and it requires plenty of prep time and maybe even a pro to do the painting. It's a good option only for more costly homes that will recoup the investment when they're sold. Only paint your brick if "your house is constructed from an unremarkable brick style," Woodman noted. If you have the good fortune to own a home built from gorgeous bricks, such as old clay-fired red brick from the early 1900s, skip this project. 

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