Competition is fierce in a housing market still reeling from the collapse of 2008. Buyers are out there and eager to find a new neighborhood, but they have plenty of options and many houses are selling at desperate prices. In order to generate interest and get the best possible price for your house, you will need to make it stand out. These are the five easiest and most effective ways to boost your home’s value and improve your odds of making a quick sale.

Remove Personal Touches
Buyers want to imagine their new home full of their own personal belongings and ready to make some memories. They don’t want to see family portraits, knick-knacks and your child’s macaroni artwork. When in doubt, model your house after a catalog: clean, spacious and a little bland. Perform a deep cleaning within every room, and use that time as an opportunity to remove clutter and anything that will remind buyers of another family’s presence. By the time you start showing, your house should be a blank canvas.

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint
Nothing spruces up a house like new paint. Years of use and exposure to the elements will wear out even the most durable paints, and you may not have noticed the gradual fading and accumulation of dirt. Buyers will, however, and see it as just another renovation that must be done before they can enjoy their new residence. On the other hand, bright, fresh paint instantly increases a house’s appeal. Use attractive, neutral colors that will complement most furniture and not turn off prospective purchasers.

People love spending time outside, and an overgrown or boring yard is unlikely to win your home any fans. Even if you have already moved out, stop by or hire someone to keep the lawn mowed and weeds pulled. Adding flower beds, trees and ornamental bushes adds to your maintenance costs, but they also improve your house’s first impression on buyers. If done properly, a little landscaping can add thousands of dollars to your sale price.

Get Rid of Old Carpeting
Much like dingy paint, old carpeting is one of the fastest ways to decrease a home’s value. Carpets hold smells and stains for years, trap dirt and are out of style. If you are having a hard time selling your home, installing hardwood flooring and tiles in several rooms may prove to be a profitable investment. Otherwise, determine which floors are the worst and swap them out with new carpeting to give the entire house a face-lift.

Update Bathrooms and the Kitchen
The home renovations with the highest ROI are bathroom and kitchen updates. Upgrading to modern appliances and technology can bring a home into the 21st century and make buyers forget that they are purchasing used. Refurbished cabinets and counter-tops are the bare minimum, but the real value comes with new toilets, sinks, refrigerators and stoves. Do what you can afford, and you may find families lining up to make an offer on a home that had previously been stagnant on the market.