This post is a guest post by Jennifer Tuohy. An award-winning journalist, Jennifer Tuohy has 15 years’ experience in newspapers, magazines, marketing and online content. She writes on a variety of subjects, but her passion lies with technology, sustainability and the intersection of the two. For more information on window treatments that can add value to your home, visit the Home Depot website.

You’ve made the big decision: You’re selling your house. Now it’s time to start thinking about what to do to enhance its appeal to potential buyers. It’s likely too late for the big changes—a finished basement, extra bathrooms, new deck—and these projects rarely see a full return on your investment anyway.

Instead, consider less expensive but more practical projects to make the biggest impact on your buyers, while making the smallest dent in your wallet. Think in terms of adding curb appeal, convenience and energy savings. From new window treatments to smart home products, here’s a look at five key, yet quick, upgrades to consider making to your home that will wow potential buyers.

Fix Up the Front Door

Cost: under $500

Updating is one key upgrade you should make that helps to sell your home.

Curb appeal is crucial when it comes to selling. The better your home looks from the outside, the better first impression buyers will have, and in real estate, first impressions are everything. A simple way to instantly update your curb appeal is by sprucing up the front door.

A fresh coat of paint, some new hardware, a couple architectural features—such as planters with colorful flowers or interesting sculptures—and your front door will be ready for prime time.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, curb appeal projects (changes to doors, windows and siding) generated higher returns on investment rather than work done inside the home.

So, sticking with doors, take a good look at your garage door. If it’s dented, faded or looking worse for wear, invest in a new one. Starting at $1,500 to $2,000, a new garage door is a proven investment to help you get a quicker and higher offer; returning almost 90 percent of its cost when you sell your house, according to Remodeling Magazine.

Let There Be Light

Cost: $800–$3,000

Removing your blinds lets in natural light and attracts buyers when you sell your home.

Natural light is a key factor in a buyer’s decision to choose one house over another. Make sure your home is the brightest, most inviting one they see by removing all of your window coverings. Yes, you heard me. Take them all down and replace with simple and unobtrusive options, like light filtering honeycomb shades, faux-wood blinds or simple white roller shades.

You probably want to take many of your window treatments with you anyway, and as beautiful as they are, their purpose is generally to block light. Light-filtering honeycomb shades or blinds let in a maximum amount of light while also giving the feeling of privacy—the perfect combination. They also present a blank palette so potential buyers can envision their own window treatments in your home.

Replacing old, broken and yellowing blinds or shades should be a top of mind priority when it comes to preparing a house to sell. Putting new window treatments throughout the whole house—which you can do yourself or hire someone to do for between $800 and $3,000, depending on how many windows are in your home—improves the entire house and will feel like a significant upgrade.

Another simple and inexpensive way to increase the light in your home is to change out the lamp shades and increase the wattage in your light bulbs (warm 60 Watt-equivalent LEDs are a great option).

Get Smart

Cost: $500–$3,000

Get smart! Adding smart features to your house helps it stand out in the crowd.

Smart home upgrades—such as keyless entry, intelligent thermostats, smart smoke detectors and connected irrigation systems—help a house stand out from the crowd. Buyers are now coming to expect these amenities in larger numbers.

According to a survey by Coldwell Banker, 44 percent of people who want a move-in ready home said smart home technology should already be installed and another 57 percent considered “an older home updated if it had smart home technology.”

Adding smart home tech to your home is not as expensive or complicated as you might think—Coldwell Banker has released its own Smart Home Staging Kit that can be delivered and installed for under $1,700, and many of these devices are simple to install yourself.

You can add a Nest Thermostat, a Kevo Kwikset smart door lock and three Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer Switches in your home yourself for under $700. In just one afternoon, you could be on your way to a smart home that can control its own climate, unlock the doors with just a touch of a finger and turn lights on and off based on your location, sunrise or sunset, or any schedule you choose.

Pretty impressive!

Adding smart features can help your house stand out.
Image via LinkedIn

If a smart home is a little out of reach, small but noticeable tech upgrades are still worth considering, especially if your potential buyer pool contains millennials and Gen-Xers (and whose doesn’t?!).

An easy switch is to replace standard outlets with those that have a USB charging capability. At $30 a pop, replacing four or five in key areas—next to the bedside tables, in the kitchen, in the office and/or living room area—is worth the small investment.

Go Green

Cost: $100 and up

Promise buyers a lower utility bill with energy efficient appliances.

Speaking of small but noticeable improvements, going green should be top of the improvements list in any home you’re in, whether selling or not. But to a buyer, the promise of lower utility bills is a big draw.

Just make sure your realtor gets the word out about these improvements, as they’re not always visible when showing a home.

While solar panels are probably the biggest “green” draw for buyers (see how this house advertises its $75 a month utility bills!), there are quicker and easier energy-saving upgrades you can make. Insulation is the simplest: Remodeling Magazine says adding loose-fill insulation in an attic is the only remodel project that actually returns a higher value than its cost.

Upgrading to double-pane windows, switching to Energy Star appliances in the kitchen and laundry room, opting for LED light bulbs and installing solar shades (which help deflect heat in the summer so the HVAC system doesn’t have to work so hard) are all easy, quick changes that can bring a home’s utility bills down and comfort levels up.

Get the Paint Brushes Out

Cost: $800–$3,000

A fresh coat of paint updates your entire space.

It’s the old standby, but that’s because it works. A fresh lick of paint—inside for sure and outside if you can swing it—is an essential upgrade to make when prepping to sell your home. Opt for neutral colors—whites, beiges, greys—and save those bold color experiments for your new home.

Don’t just paint the walls and ceilings. Going a step further will make your home stand out in buyers’ eyes. Painting a fresh coat on interior doors and kitchen cabinets is a surefire winner.

Also, consider painting the interior of any built-in closets (and while you’re there remove as much clutter as possible, so buyers see storage space instead of someone else’s junk).

Each of these upgrades can each be easily done in an afternoon or a weekend, and in most cases for well under $1,000. If it means more people become interested in your home, it translates into a higher likelihood you’ll get your asking price (or more), and that makes it an afternoon very well spent.

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