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

Cost/Benefit Statistics

The first and most important rule of thumb when it comes to updating your home before a sale: Only invest in improvements -- whether renovation, upkeep or home staging -- that will add at least twice their cost to your home's value. As we saw above, that limits or rules out major projects. So what's left? The magic of home staging, which presents your home's bare bones in the best possible way, can have unbelievable effects on your house's sale speed and final price.

Home staging can improve your sale price by an average of six percent, and you could sell up to 50 percent faster [source: Home Staging Resource]. The less time a house is on the market, the better the sale will be -- and the less time you'll be in limbo. By spending the time and money now to make sure your house is the most attractive it can be, you'll reap benefits in both the short and long term.

But how much should you spend? Well, there's no limit to the amount of elbow grease you can put in while your home's on the market. And you will put in a lot! But as far as finances, plan to budget one to three percent of your asking price for staging [source: Tracey]. That includes props, rentals and services (power washers, lawn care, deep cleaning), and possibly engaging a professional stager.

Staging services themselves average $400 to $600 nationally, depending on the market and your square footage. Add this negligible expense to the money you'll make: According to a 2007 survey, homes that spent $5,000 to $8,000 on staging and home improvements averaged a 150 percent return on that investment [source: Gopalakrishnan].

Every home, market and buyer is different, and buyers are looking for the best possible house for their needs. But by using staging techniques and being clever with your improvements budget, you can keep your asking price high and save money that would otherwise have gone toward renovations. That's money in your pocket that you can use to make your next home even more perfect for you and your family.

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