If you\u2019ve got plans to put your house on the market, it goes without saying that you are hoping to sell your home as quickly as possible and get your asking price. Listing your house can be stressful, especially if you\u2019ve never sold a home before. Additionally, the longer a home stays on the market, the harder it becomes to sell. This can also affect its perceived value and, in turn, how much you\u2019re able to sell it for. In the increasingly competitive market, with limited inventory, you may get lucky and be able to secure offers above your asking price, but you shouldn\u2019t rely on the nature of the current market to score the best deal. There are plenty of easy and cost-effective things you can do to increase your home\u2019s current value and land as close to your asking price as possible. Make sure your home is ready to entice potential buyers with these 5 tips:\n\n\n\nBoost Curb Appeal\n\n\n\nNo matter how on point the interior of your home looks, buyers have already made an opinion before they walk through the door. Great curb appeal gives buyers a good first impression of the property, and the seller\u2019s attention to smaller details tells buyers that the home has been well maintained. A joint NAR\u2013Google survey found 90 percent of buyers shopped for their home online, where first impressions and sharp visual appeal dominate. Even if you\u2019re just planning on doing a quick drive-by before scheduling a showing, a home\u2019s exterior is no less important. Spruce up your home\u2019s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. It\u2019s important to clean all windows, inside and out, and power wash siding, stonework, and walkways. Make your front porch even more inviting with a new welcome mat, fresh house numbers, and if you have the space add one or two pieces of neat porch furniture. \n\n\n\nGet Your House Sparkling Clean\n\n\n\nThis might seem like a no-brainer but performing a deep clean is the easiest and cheapest way to help your home put its best foot forward. Don't let foul smells, dirty floors or dusty surfaces make a bad impression on perspective buyers. Before listing your home (and throughout the selling process), make sure your floors are shining and your windows are gleaming \u2026 every surface should sparkle! This means mopping floors, cleaning toilets, wiping down surfaces, cleaning rugs and scrubbing bathrooms. You may want to hire professionals to do some of the really nitty gritty work, especially if you have a larger house. One thing\u2019s for sure \u2013 you don\u2019t want to skimp on this step. A clean house is key! \n\n\n\nConsider Fresh Paint\n\n\n\nAs you\u2019re aware by now, first impressions are critical when selling a house. You want to give your home that \u201cwow\u201d factor, and if the paint suggests the premises are in disrepair, you should add a fresh coat before the place hits the market. \n\n\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s the least expensive investment for the biggest return,\u201d says Jennie Norris, Chairwoman of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals and her own Denver-based home staging business, Sensational Home. Painting the interior results in a 107 percent return on investment (ROI), and painting the exterior leads to a 55 percent ROI, according to a HomeGain 2012 Top DIY Home Improvements for Seller survey. \n\n\n\nIt\u2019s critical that you choose a neutral color palette that feels contemporary yet inviting. Preparing your house to sell is not the time to experiment with anything too bold or \u201cout there.\u201d That doesn\u2019t mean, however, you need to go all white either. Rich neutrals like mocha, beige, tans, gold, grays and \u201cgreige\u201d create the perfect backdrop that makes everything look and feel pulled together. Neutral colors make it easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the space because the paint goes with just about anything. A lot of buyers also don\u2019t want to shell out extra cash to paint after closing. In a USA Today article, Kelly Kerrie, owner of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, and interior design spokesperson for Zillow says, \u201cIf you\u2019re on a budget, pick your battles \u2026 at a minimum, I\u2019d paint the front door, the main living space, and the kitchen. You could paint bathrooms, too, but you might be better off just giving the grout a good cleaning.\u201d \n\n\n\nSet the Stage\n\n\n\nThe purpose of home staging is to create a welcoming environment that showcases the house (instead of its current occupants) so that buyers can more easily envision themselves living there. A recent 2018 study conducted by Home Staging Resources compared the sold prices between staged homes and their nearby, \u201cunstaged\u201d comparables, and the results were striking. A grand total of 85% of all 4,200 staged homes surveyed sold for anywhere from 6% to 25% more than unstaged homes, with 68% of those selling for at least 9% more than \u201cunstaged\u201d neighbors. One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to clear the clutter and de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. It\u2019s not easy, and it may even require renting offsite storage temporarily, but you don\u2019t want to bombard potential buyers with family photos, toys, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Try to strike a balance between clean and lived-in \u2013 think vases of fresh cut flowers, nice smelling candles, or a bowl of citrus by the sink. Additional tips for home staging include:\n\n\n\nRearranging the furniture. In the living areas, symmetrical arrangements usually work best. Pull your furniture off the walls and use pairs (of sofas, chairs, lamps) to create inviting conversation areas. Add texture and pops of color. Neutral tones are typically the best choice for big ticket items in your staged home, like walls, furniture, and even bedding, but don\u2019t eliminate all color or your space will end up looking dull and forgettable. Don\u2019t be afraid to bring in different textures and brighter colors in your accent pieces like rattan placemats, jewel-toned throw pillows and area rugs, or vibrant florals. It\u2019s okay to inject personality in your space, as long as you don\u2019t go crazy with wild patterns, neon colors, or over-the-top textures.Organize closets. Storage space can be a make-it-or-break-it selling point for buyers, so you want to show your space off the best you can by giving easy access. If your closets are currently crammed to the ceiling with your personal possessions, your home will look short on storage space. Your staging goal for closets needs to be emptying them until they\u2019re no more than 50% full.\n\n\n\nBrighter is Better\n\n\n\nYou may be surprised, but one of the most common mistakes sellers make when staging their homes is forgetting about lighting! Whether you\u2019re getting ready for in-person showings or a photographer to take pictures for your home\u2019s online listing, you want to maximize the light in your home. After location, good natural lighting is one of the top features that every buyer cites on their wish list. Open the drapes, clean the windows, update light fixtures, switch out lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs, and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do to make your house bright and cheery \u2013 it makes a huge difference! \n\n\n\nSelling your home can be overwhelming and can seem like a momentous task, but with these simple tips you\u2019ll be well on your way to securing your asking price (and hopefully more) in no time!