If you are planning to sell your home, you may have realized that the process might not be easy as it would have been even a couple of years ago. The good news; however, is that there are some positive steps you can take to make your home stand out, even if the market is somewhat crowded.

A few years ago, back when the market was sizzling, homeowners mistakenly believed that putting a lot of money into their homes would pay off big time when it came time to sell. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that upgrading and remodeling are really only mediocre investments. In reality, very few projects actually pay for themselves, let alone bring in a profit.

So, what should you concentrate on when preparing your home for today's market?

First, before you take on any projects, make sure they are the right kinds of projects. The projects which should take priority are those which will actually protect your home from damage and deterioration. This includes replacing the roof and making plumbing and electrical upgrades. These types of projects won't do much to beautify your home, but they will go a long way toward preserving the home's value.

You should also make sure that your home has curb appeal. At a minimum, buyers today are looking for a good paint job. If the exterior of your home is already in good shape, you may be able to get by with just doing a little touch up work. The main idea is to make sure that your home stands out. A little paint does not cost a lot and in the end it can really go a long way toward making a difference when it comes time to sell.

When painting your home; however, it is important to keep a few guidelines mind. First, make sure you are using quality paint. Remember, this isn't just for show. Ideally, it is best to use two topcoats. This will provide protection against mildew, moisture and the effects of the sun. Second, work to make your home stand out but avoid colors that make your home stand out too much. Choose colors that have universal appeal.

Make sure your yard is tidy. Trim those shrubs and keep your lawn neatly trimmed; even if that means hiring a service to handle it while your home is on the market. The investment will be well worth it when your home sells. Avoid spending too much on sprucing up the landscaping; however. Ideally, you should spend no more than 2% of your home's value on the landscaping before you sell. Any more than that and you won't be able to get it back in the final sales price. Focus on spreading mulch around trees, trimming the shrubs and walkways and mowing the grass. If the season is right for it, add a few flowerpots around the patio and entry.

Spend a bit of time on your driveway. If it has not been resurfaced in awhile, now is the right time to take care of any cracks with some asphalt resealer. This is a good way to give your home the appeal buyers are looking for without spending a ton of money.

The basic rule of thumb when preparing your home for the market is to avoid doing too much overimprovement. Getting carried away will ultimately cost you. For example, contrary to popular belief, adding a pool to your home will do nothing to increase the final value. In fact, it will actually take away from the resale value as homes with pools cost more to insure and maintenance costs may turn away some would-be buyers.

Any home improvements you make should fit in with the neighborhood. Take a good look at the homes around your area. The key here is to make sure that you are keeping up with the neighbors, not trying to outdo them. If most homes in your local neighborhood have two bathrooms and you only have a bath and a half, it could be a good investment to upgrade to two bathrooms. Four would be pushing it.

If you're planning to re-decorate, avoid doing anything that is too trendy. While it might be in fashion today, tomorrow it will just be outdated. Along the same lines, avoid over-decorating. Go with neutral colors that will allow buyers to envision how they will add their own personal touches to the home after they purchase it.

Take the time to clean out clutter. Remember that too much clutter can make rooms appear smaller. Clean off tables and countertops and remove any extra furniture you do not need. If necessary, rent a space to store extra belongings until the home sells and you move.

Create an atmosphere that is homey and comfortable. Make sure the home is clean above all else but also take the time to set the stage. Set your table, put out fresh flowers, make sure the bathrooms have guest towels, etc.

Finally, make sure your home is priced to sell. Take the time necessary to be sure your home is priced just right and not over or under-priced. Homes that are priced too high as well as those priced too low, tend to sit on the market longer. The longer a home sits on the market, the harder it becomes to sell. So, start off on the right foot by pricing it right the first time.

Source by Andrew Webber