Editor’s note: This is a transcript of the audio file.

Appearance is everything, especially in real estate. But hiring a professional stager to prepare your home can set you back up to 150 dollars an hour.

Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands. I’m Janet Stauble with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

The easiest and cheapest thing you can do is de-personalize. Put away all of your photos so your home shows like a model.

The hardest thing for most people is clearing away clutter. You’re emotionally attached to your stuff, and you may not see clutter yourself. Ask an honest friend for feedback of what needs to go.

Take a paintbrush to the rooms that need it most. Fresh, neutral paint is worth its weight in gold and makes everything appear new.

Having your house professionally cleaned is worth the money spent. You want everything including the windows and the fans to be spotless.

Outside, make sure the lawn is mowed, and that sidewalks and the driveway are free of debris. Mulch is cheap and covers a multitude of sins. It makes everything look trim and neat.

And it never hurts to bake some cookies before a showing.

Want to learn more? Log onto Bankrate.com. I’m Janet Stauble.

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