Five tips to help you sell your home

Home sales are slowly recovering, but it's still a buyer's market. Before you put the for sale sign up in your front yard, you need to do a few things to make it more attractive to potential buyers. This little bit of extra work and expense can have a huge payback.

If you want to sell your house in this market, you need to make sure you take care of all the little things.

"Keep in mind most buyers aren't going to have extra money, so they're not looking for a fixer-upper. So take care of the little things to get your house in tip-top shape," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Hicks says there are five areas where you should concentrate your efforts. One of the most obvious? paint the place.

"So this is a great thing to do and it will really freshen up the house," she said. "And it will make it seem a lot brighter and potentially bigger, especially if you're transitioning away from dark-colored walls."

Use landscaping to boost curb appeal. First impressions are important. You want a potential buyer to know the house has been well-maintained. And that starts with the yard.

"So when we're talking about landscaping, we're not talking about going out and spending thousands of dollars to do a whole new landscaping plan. It's about keeping it simple, clean and neat," Hicks said.

Spruce up the kitchen if you're going to make improvements to the house. This is a good place to start.

"Typically, an investment in your kitchen can get about an 80 percent return on investment," Hicks said. "But if you're getting ready to sell, once again, keep it simple here. You don't want to go and do a lavish kitchen. So a nice way to freshen it up is to change out the cabinet fronts. You can usually save about 30 percent from the cost of replacing the total cabinet."

And consider a bathroom makeover.

"A bathroom is another area that can be a turnoff to potential buyers because it can be expensive to redo a bathroom if you're going to gut it. You can do simple things in your bathroom. For example, you can re-glaze a bathtub for a few hundred dollars. That can make the bathtub look like new again without having to replace it," said Hicks.

Finally, deal with the carpets. Obviously, you'll want to clean a dirty carpet. But if it's badly worn or there are stains that won't come out, consider replacing it.

Remember: this is a game of keeping up with the Joneses. Angie says make sure your home is at par or just slightly better than your neighbors'.

But don't go overboard. The most expensive house on the block is often the hardest to sell. In this market, a house that appears to be neglected is even worse.

Angie has put together a list of tips on how to hire a remodeling contractor.

More information:

Which Remodeling Projects Pay Off the Most?

Consumer Reports: Bathroom Remodeling Guide

Consumer Reports: Kitchen Remodeling

Consumer Reports: Paint

FTC: Hiring a Contractor