Housing market fluctuations aside, investing in your home can increase its value and selling price when you’re ready to make a move. Even small, low-cost improvements can create large and lucrative results. Before you nail up a “for sale” sign, take a look around your humble abode and determine what changes you can make that will up the ante on your home.

Take a Curb-Side View – Your home’s first impression will be made from the outside. Survey your property and determine what improvements are needed. Rusty gutters, missing roof tiles and un-pruned bushes or weeds immediately devalue an otherwise sound property. Chiseling overgrown shrubbery and trees can also increase the amount of natural light coming into the home, which is a huge selling point. Adding a few well-placed rose bushes or seasonal decorations that lend visual interest can create a warm, inviting atmosphere, adding significant monetary value. Make sure your decorations jive with the season, however. Nobody wants to see unlit Christmas lights gathering porch dust in July.

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Show Clutter the Door – People looking at your home will be peeking into closets and poking behind corners, so it’s important to eliminate clutter, streamlining the look of your home and creating the illusion of more space. That means hanging things neatly in closets and tossing all of the stuff you no longer need. Attractive storage boxes can be stacked on closet shelves and filled to the brim with the things you simply can’t part with.

A Simple Coat of Paint – Dingy walls or a dull exterior immediately create a first impression that is less than favorable. If necessary, spruce up your home with a complete paint job. If you can get away with it, simply touch up smudges and chips. If a full paint job is needed, however, make sure to keep the colors neutral and soft. This will allow hopeful home owners to visualize how their own taste and personality can take shape in the space.

Repair and Replace – Chipped floor tiles, stained carpets, broken steps and ceiling cracks immediately decrease the look and value of your home. Survey each room for dings such as rust-stained sinks, warped wood flooring, torn window screens and bathroom mold. A few hundred dollars invested in simple home repairs can reap you thousands more in selling price.

Create Sweeping Spaces – Today’s current aesthetic leans toward open and airy, clean living environments. If your house is old and comprised of many small, dark rooms and hallways, consider knocking down several non-structural walls to open up the space and create large, family-friendly, naturally-sunlit areas.

Add a Bathroom or Water Closet – Survey your space to determine if you have a closet or under-eave space that can easily be converted into an extra bathroom. Two or more bathrooms are a must-have for most home buyers in today’s tight market. Make sure to maintain your home’s period when designing this add-on, but go as modern as possible in your choice of amenities and fixtures.

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Let in the Light – Dark and dull translates into a lower asking price. Consider adding sun tubes to your entryways, hallways and upstairs bedrooms. Also take note of your light bulb wattage. Higher-watt bulbs can create the illusion of size in a small space.

Work What You’ve Got – You don’t need to add his and hers sinks or warming floors in order to add value to your home. Upgrading the look of your bathroom may be as simple as adding glass shelving or updating the door knob, faucets and toilet seat, or adding a low-flush toilet feature.

Update the Heart of the House – Kitchens brighten up easily with simple modifications, such as adding spiffy, new cabinet pulls, interesting light fixtures or butcher block counter tops. If you have a blank exterior wall, you can add a window, allowing for more natural light and better ventilation.

Show Off Your Crunchy Side – Energy-efficient appliances translate into dollar value and give your home a modern veneer, attractive to potential buyers. Double-flush toilets, energy-saving heat and air-conditioning units and solar-powered water heaters represent long-term cost savings for your buyer and an increased asking price for you.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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