People try all sorts of things to make their houses stand out in the marketplace. Some spend thousands on repairs and new fixtures, while others concentrate on things that make the property look more attractive. Real estate agents recommend all sorts of things that supposedly help sell a home; but what actually works? Unfortunately, while minor things like new paint and doorknobs might improve the look of a house, they don't actually add much value.

What adds value?

To make buyers covet their houses, sellers try all kinds of little tricks. Some paint a ceiling to try to make the room seem bigger, while others invest in add-ons they hope will make the property more valuable. But what really adds value?

If you're interested in getting a higher appraisal for a home, so you can increase your asking price, there are some things you can add. Energy-efficient doors and windows definitely add value to your home, and the federal government even offers tax benefits to homeowners who install them. Decks and new siding can also increase property value, as can relatively minor improvements to the kitchen and bathroom.

If you're serious about increasing your house's value, you can convert an attic or basement into a spare bedroom or apartment that can be rented out. If you’re in a rush, you can install a backup power generator, which will definitely add some very real value to the property as a whole.

What doesn't add value?

Some real estate agents have all sorts of theories as to what snags buyer attention. Some advise sellers to paint furniture or apply new stain to trim work, while others suggest new hardware throughout the property. Unfortunately, new paint and hardware rarely make much difference in the long-run; and usually, these tactics aren't worth the expense.

More often than not, sellers are better off pocketing the money they might spend on these projects and focusing instead on clearing brush surrounding the exterior of their property. A lot of buyers want to choose their own hardware and new paint styles, and many are likely to remodel your improvements once they buy the home.