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PressBox is partnering with Window Nation to answer homeowners’ biggest questions about window repair. This article was provided by Window Nation.

Home sales are surging, and owners can get a leg up — and a better sale — by boosting their property’s curb appeal.

When people decide to look for a new home, they might trawl real estate websites, research potential neighborhoods or attend open houses. They might set out to find something specific, like a three-bedroom house or architecture from a particular era. Many people will focus mainly on price or location. But regardless of what they want, all buyers tend to be swayed by one aspect in particular: curb appeal, or the way a home appears from the outside.

“We all know and believe that good curb appeal matters,” said Villupuram, an associate professor of finance and real estate at University of Texas at Arlington whose research has sought to understand the value of curb appeal.

With mortgage rates reaching new lows and home sales surging — sales of already built homes rose by nearly 21 percent in June 2020, a record monthly increase — sellers can still benefit by investing in their home’s exterior, according to Villupuram’s research. Together, features like the paint, roof and front lawn can influence what kind of impression the home makes. If people like what they see, they are often willing to pay more.

New windows are a key way to instantly freshen up a home’s facade—and for homeowners in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, Window Nation offers more than a dozen years of experience in renovation as well as locally made, customized products and expert installation.

The value of curb appeal

About 52 percent of sellers want to make improvements before putting their home on the market, and real estate experts tend to agree that certain exterior renovations, like new windows and siding, can add value to a property and help it stand out to potential buyers. But while home appraisers typically account for characteristics like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size and location, quantifying curb appeal isn’t as straightforward.

Villupuram’s research aimed to help with that. Using machine learning, sale prices of homes, and photographs of hundreds of homes, he and his team assessed how curb appeal influenced value. They found that, between two homes in the same neighborhood that are otherwise identical, “the one with the best curb appeal has sold for seven percent more.” And their research suggests that when the market slows down, curb appeal may have even greater influence over home sales. During economic downtimes, when many homeowners have less financial flexibility to make improvements, homes that do appear freshened up may stand out even more, commanding up to 10 percent higher premiums. There could be changes to the housing market later in the year, according to some experts, and low rates may not last forever. Homeowners looking to put their home on the market down the line can get a head start on the process by investing in curb appeal now.

Even those who aren’t planning on selling their home can benefit from making improvements to a property’s exterior. When Dwayne Stanton first caught sight of the home he now shares with his wife, Suzan, in the Martins Woods neighborhood of Lanham, Md., he “fell in love with it immediately.” That was 1993, and the brick split-level had been built in the early 1960s. A couple of years ago, the couple realized that it was time to make some updates; the home still had its original windows, for example, and the Stantons had resorted to putting up plastic every winter to keep out the draft.

“That’s what really made the decision for us to go for new windows: to keep the house warm and [have] constant heat,” said Suzan.

Window Nation worked with the Stantons to spruce up and modernize their home. Their favorite new feature is the bay window with panes that open on either side. Now, said Suzan, “you can appreciate looking out the window. You can appreciate people looking at the window. It’s just a better look all around.”

Pro tips for more polished curb appeal

Hiring a home improvement contractor to make sure updates go smoothly offers peace of mind and value; depending on the market, homeowners can expect to recoup about 80 percent of the amount they invest in new windows when they sell their house, according to Harley Magden, CEO and co-founder of Window Nation. The company installed its millionth window in 2020, and crew members have an average of 16 years of experience installing windows, “so they’ve seen every problem and do the job right the first time,” Magden said. And because the company has a large factory in Maryland, they can access materials and get jobs done more quickly, as well as negotiate better prices for customers.

It can also help customers to have a knowledgeable partner when selecting the right windows for their needs, such as their future plans or how their home was constructed. They might own a historic property, for example, or have to meet Homeowners Association regulations. Customers might be planning to move in a couple of years, or intend to stay in their home for the long haul. They might need to update windows on a rental property, or want to boost the energy efficiency of a newer home. Customers with pricier properties may desire the window equivalent of “the fastest car out there,” said Magden, while others simply need a functional window that will last.

Regardless of their circumstances, Window Nation can guide people through the process of choosing a style of window that will meet their needs and also add curb appeal. For example, on a street lined with houses of a similar style, replacing a flat window with a bay window “gives the appearance of the room looking larger inside [while] outside, it tends to differentiate the home,” Magden said. Bold window frames—black is an increasingly popular color, according to Magden—can also set a home apart from its neighbors, while complementing interior decor. And adding more modern window screens that are nearly invisible from the street can also streamline a home’s profile. In addition, by upgrading windows and doors, Villupuram estimates that homeowners can expect “at least an improvement of two to three percent” in their home’s value.

Ultimately, making thoughtful choices about aspects of a home’s curb appeal can have powerful results, whether a homeowner plans to sell or not. The Stantons, for their part, are not planning on moving anytime soon. Both are retired from their jobs as homicide detectives in D.C., and now, as they take on this new stage of their lives, they feel like they have a new home too.

“When I’m outside, I look up at the house and smile. I’m like, ‘Wow, I moved without moving,’” Dwayne said.

Learn more about scheduling a virtual quote with Window Nation.