Question: What kind of improvements should I make to my house before putting it on the market?

Answer: That’s a simple question that can have a lengthy answer. It seems to us that fewer buyers are looking for a project these days; rather, more buyers want a home that is move-in ready. Maybe we are all worn out by Covid, or maybe buyers are aware of how hard it can be to get craftspeople (e.g., painters, carpenters) to take on a job. But it means that, generally speaking, your home should be as solid, fresh, updated and attractive as you can make it.

Here are nine make-ready tasks that have the greatest return on investment.

NEW ROOF If your shingle roof is more than 12 to 15 years old, you should probably replace it. There’s nothing like a new roof warranty to put a buyer’s mind at ease.

PAINT Fresh neutral colors may not deeply excite a buyer, but they won’t turn buyers off, either. White is never in poor taste, and there are many whites to choose from. A jewel-box powder room in deep green or a library with red lacquered walls can demonstrate your design flare and are probably fine. But if you still have circa 1988 sponged walls in the dining room, let them go.

RIP OUT OLD CARPET Carpeting is sometimes acceptable in secondary bedrooms. But we have noticed that fewer and fewer people like wall-to-wall carpeting. Not only does it get stained and worn, but it holds allergens that many people find difficult to live with. The most desirable replacement is typically hardwood flooring.

CAULK You don’t need to be reminded to scrub down all the bathrooms. Also examine the caulking in tubs, showers and around the sink. If gapping or discolored, remove the old caulk and replace.

GIVE YOUR YARD A SPA DAY You know how important curb appeal is. So, hire a landscaping company to clip shrubs, fertilize, edge the lawn, trim trees, add mulch and create a couple of big handsome planters by your front door. Are there low spots in your lawn where water stands? Have them filled and, if necessary, re-sodded. Is your wood fence leaning crazily? Replace it. Are the Italian cypress trees dying? Have them removed.

UPDATE YOUR KITCHEN Nasty old appliances and dated brown granite countertops are a turn-off. It can be expensive to update your kitchen. But if it’s done well – painted cabinetry, new hardware, gray or white countertop of marble, granite or quartz (butcher block is another option), new appliances, new light fixtures – it may be the single most important selling point.

SERVICE THE HVAC There’s nothing like presenting buyers with receipts showing that your HVAC system has been recently inspected and serviced. If it’s more than eight years old, considering replacing it.

SERVICE THE WATER HEATER As with the HVAC system, have your water heater(s) inspected. If more than eight years old, replace it.

EXTERMINATE Termites, roaches and fire ants all love Houston’s sub-tropical climate. Get ahead of any potential problem by hiring a pest-control company to inspect your property and, if necessary, treat for insects. As with the HVAC and roof, being proactive tells the buyer that your property has been well cared for.