Perhaps it just seems like common sense. But cleaning, cutting back on the clutter and brightening your home are among the most cost-effective things you can do to sell your house. According to a nationwide survey conducted by, a website that offers web-based instant home values to consumers at no cost, the top four do-it-yourself home improvement projects suggested by Realtors all involve making the home look better. It’s not until you get to #5 that you get beyond the home’s visual appeal to actual structural issues.

The top five home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers based on cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:

  1. Cleaning and de-cluttering ($200 cost / $1,700 price increase / 872% ROI)
  2. Home staging ($300 cost / $1,780 price increase / 586% ROI)
  3. Lightening and brightening ($230 cost / $1,300 price increase / 572% ROI)
  4. Landscaping ($320 cost / $1,500 price increase / 473% ROI)
  5. Repairing plumbing ($385 cost / $1,250 price increase / 327% ROI)

Not only do Realtors see these suggestions as good value returns, but they also them as important in simply stimulating interest and eventually the sale of the home. “First impressions are super important,” said Doug Bronkema of 45th Parallel Realty in Elk Rapids. “And all of these are very low-cost things. I’d say do them, do them now, do them yesterday.”

HomeGain received responses from nearly 1,000 Realtors. Of the respondents, 98% recommended cleaning and de-cluttering the home as the best return on investment. Rounding out the top 12 are updating electrical, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, updating kitchen, painting outside of home, and updating bathrooms.

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