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How much should you spend on fix-up before a sale?

Reinvention, Not Renovation

Rather than spending your money on improvements for your house's next owners to enjoy, focus on showing your home in its best light. Let's look at some common renovations and their immediate benefits, as well as other ways to make the most of your sale.

For example, an outdoor deck not only creates a good place to entertain, but can also improve your backyard's look and make it more inviting. It's one of the most cost-effective renovation projects you can do (average cost $10,601, recoup value $8,676), but you'll still only see about an 82 percent return. And since you won't be there to enjoy it, you're spending around $1,925 on another family's enjoyment [source: Remodeling Magazine].

By staging the backyard in an inventive and practical way, you can save money and add to value at the same time. How about laying down fresh sod and grass seed? By installing a small birdfeeder, you can create a point of visual interest. Inexpensive bistro furniture can create that outdoor-living feel at a fraction of the price, and you can take those props with you to your next home!

An average bathroom remodel cost $15,899 in 2010, with a recoup value of $11,857. That's only a 74.6 percent return on your investment in a bathroom you'll never get to use [source: Remodeling Magazine]. Instead, increase your sale value by styling the bathroom in a way that's inviting, luxurious and simple. Updated drawer pulls and fixtures, and tiny touches like fresh soaps and freshly folded towels can help a sparkling-clean bathroom appeal to buyers every bit as much as a newly installed toilet.

If you're thinking of renovating a spare bedroom, turn it into a guest room. All you need is a bed frame, an inflatable mattress and some luxurious bedding. Turning that room into another comforting environment will make the whole house seem bigger!