Photo: James Bombales

Selling your home ain’t cheap. You’ve got to factor in the agent’s commission, essential repairs, closing costs, transfer taxes and moving fees, leaving little left over for professional home staging. Thankfully, there are several low and no-cost ways to whip your home into shape before planting that “for sale” sign in the yard. HomeLight, a real estate referral company, recently surveyed more than 900 top agents about home improvements and cleaning tasks that will boost the value of your home. Here we’ve rounded up their 10 best budget-friendly tips.

1. Declutter every room

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Decluttering is a must before you move (that IKEA catalogue from 2008 does not need to come along for the ride), but it also makes your home appear spacious and well-maintained. Prospective buyers will focus on the space, not your growing piles of stuff. The average cost of decluttering your home from top to bottom, which could include a junk removal service or professional organizer, is $486. However, this update yields a 432 percent return on investment, which translates to $2,584 in profit.

2. Open curtains and blinds

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This update couldn’t be any easier — open up blinds and curtains to welcome in natural light. If your window treatments are outdated or heavy, consider removing them altogether. If you want to disguise an unsightly view or maintain your privacy, use sheer curtains that hang about a half inch above the ground. Another design pro tip: Mount your curtain rods as high as possible to make the windows seem larger. 

3. Give your home a deep clean

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You might be tempted to put on some rubber gloves and go the DIY route with this one, but professional cleaners will scrub all the nooks and crannies that you’re likely to overlook. The average cost of a deep cleaning is $167, but the return on investment is a whopping $1,728 or 935 percent. If your home has been sitting on the market for some time, it’s a good idea to schedule a weekly appointment with your cleaner to sustain its sparkle.

4. Wash the windows

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A quick and easy way to brighten up your home is to give those windows a wash, inside and out. Open house attendees can be nosy as hell — they’ll open your cabinets, inspect your baseboards and check the condition of your windows. You want to make sure yours are free from grime, streaks or cobwebs.

5. Add seasonal curb appeal

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Improving your home’s curb appeal during the winter months is entirely possible. Clear walkways and driveways of snow, plant evergreens in pots, paint your front door a punchy color, or install new light fixtures. In spring and summer, add fresh mulch, colorful plants, lounge chairs or a modern address plaque.

6. Take recent listing photos

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If you’re selling your home in the middle of June, no buyer wants to see how festive it looks at Christmas. Listing photos that don’t reflect the current season will make it seem like your home has been sitting on the market for months — and that’s a red flag for homebuyers. You might be able to get away with recycling the interior photos, but you should certainly have the exterior shots retaken if they’re not up-to-date.

7. Polish the floors

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Replacing hardwood floors is a big expense ($6 to $15 per square foot, according to HomeGuide). Why not bring in a team of professionals to refinish them instead at roughly half the cost? Sanding, staining and resealing your floors will give them a whole new look for a lot less.

8. Integrate pops of color through decor

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When selling your home, it’s best to stick to neutral paint colors that will appease a wide range of buyers. But to keep your interiors from falling flat, bring in pops of color through pillows, throw blankets, decorative accents and artwork. Adopt the 60-30-10 rule (dominant color, secondary color, accent color) to prevent the space from looking too matchy-matchy.

9. Place fresh-cut flowers in vases

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Simple flower arrangements can add a finishing touch to your open house. Place them in the common areas of your home, like the entryway, kitchen and living room. If you don’t want to splurge on arrangements from a florist, stick to tasteful, in-season blooms and greenery from the grocery store. 

10. Crack the windows to allow in fresh air

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Airing out your home during the winter doesn’t seem very energy-efficient, but it’s essential to expel stale indoor air — even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes. Your home will smell fresher to buyers (so long, musty odors) and it won’t even cost you a dime. 

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