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By turnercowles
May 31, 2014

The two rooms that really sell houses are the kitchen and master bathroom. If your home needs upgrading, focus your dollars here.

Before you go knocking down walls, consider your neighborhood and your target buyer, advises Trulia real estate blogger Michael Corbett. “If most homes nearby have tidy, neat kitchens with Formica or tile countertops, then you should too,” he says. “If granite and flagstone seem to be the local flavor, hopefully yours will be similar.”

Don’t over-improve, Corbett cautions. You likely won’t get your money back in the sale. Simple upgrades—faucets, lighting, cabinet pulls—don’t cost a lot and may be enough to give the house a fresh look.

Opening up the kitchen will appeal to new buyers. Remove a wall between the kitchen and dining or living area, or remove extra overhead cabinets that block the view.

And remember, the best way to make your home appealing to buyers costs nothing: clean up and declutter. That includes your medicine cabinets and closets, because buyers will open them. Remove extra furniture to make the rooms seem bigger.

But why wait until you sell to make improvements? Savvy homeowners look for cost-effective upgrades along the way to keep from becoming the neighborhood slacker. If you live in a home built before the mid-1970s, for example, you probably have small closets. That’s a turnoff, says Rockaway, New Jersey, agent Ellen Klein. Even if you can’t expand the closets, you can maximize the space with a good organizing system. And you’ll get to enjoy the added convenience yourself.

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The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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