Getting your home in it’s best shape without doing costly renovation projects is critical to getting the most value out of your home. It’s a balancing act between doing all that you can while still having a life, and the 80/20 rule does apply. Here’s some general recommendations:

1. Bye, Bye Clutter

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your home for sale is to get rid of clutter. One of the major contributors to a cluttered look is having too much furniture. When professional stagers descend on a home being prepped for market, they often whisk away as much as half the owner’s furnishings, and the house looks much bigger for it. You don’t have to whittle that drastically, but take a hard look at what you have and ask yourself what you can live without.

2. Make It Bigger

To make a room appear to be bigger than it is, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space. And make a sunporch look bigger and more inviting by painting it green to reflect the color of nature. Another design trick: If you want to create the illusion of more space, paint the walls the same color as your drapery. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated look.

3. Neutral and Appealing

Painting a living room a fresh neutral color helps tone down any dated finishes in the space. Even if you were weaned on off-white walls, take a chance and test a quart of paint in a warm, neutral hue. These days, the definition of neutral extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens. As for bold wall colors, they have a way of reducing offers, so go with neutrals in large spaces.

4. Finish What You Started

Unfinished projects can scare off potential buyers, so finish them. Missing floorboards and large cracks in the sidewalk on the way to your door tend to be a red flag, for example, and they cost you less to fix than buyers might deduct from the asking price.

5. Routine Maintenance

It’s easy to overlook some of the smaller issues in a home when we see them everyday. If that window screen has been torn for the last 12 years, now is the time to replace it. Doing things like touch-up paint, sealing cracks, cleaning up the landscaping and replacing burnt light-bulbs will give the impression of a well kept home. Doing things like cleaning gutters, replacing furnace filters, and caulking cracks goes a long way to make your home stay in great shape.

6. Clean, Clean, and Clean

A super clean home will always make a buyer feel more comfortable about a potential purchase, it gives the impression of pride of ownership. If a buyer is afraid to let her children touch anything, she won’t be writing an offer. You wouldn’t try to sell your car without washing it first. The same applies to your home.

Overall, try to put yourself in a home buyer’s shoes. Look for things that need to be done and do them. De-clutter and cleanliness goes a long way. Would you buy this house over all the others? Would you pay a premium for it?