If you’re planning to sell your home, you may be considering ways to improve it to increase the selling price.

Above all, your first priority should be investing in maintenance basics. After all, potential buyers aren’t going to be interested in the kitchen’s new stainless steel countertops if rain from a leaky roof is drizzling into buckets on those lovely counters. Buyers know that they can spend a lot of money very quickly to take care of a home’s essentials. And lenders often require the completion of major repairs before a loan is approved.

Houston and Katy Realtor Veronica Mullenix of the Veronica Mullenix Real Estate Group (www.Veronicamullenix.com) encourages homeowners to remember the importance of keeping the décor, appliances, and other features in your home up to date so when you’re ready to sell, you’re competitive with other properties on the market. Many homes are “pristinely taken care of,” she says, but they’ve never been updated, resulting in “functional obsolescence.” Mullenix ads that moving to Houston and Katy areas is trending upwards, and is still a good investment despite fluctuating markets elsewhere.

“Keep it current,” Mullenix says. Features that are more than 10 years old, “the life cycle of fashion,” are not providing added value. That brushed nickel light fixture, linoleum flooring, or older shower doors should be replaced with something new. She recommends buying updated items, such as plumbing and light fixtures, when they’re on sale to save costs.

So what are some other upgrades that can cover the basics, provide curb appeal, sell your house quicker, and give you the best bang for the buck? Read on for some recommendations.

Energy-efficient vinyl windows. The installation of tasteful, energy-efficient vinyl windows in place of your funky, old, drafty windowsvinyl windows will save you energy costs while you’re in the house and provide a great incentive for a buyer. Not to mention that you can enjoy tax credits by making upgrades that increase your home’s energy efficiency. Also of note: going with impact-resistant windows can offer safety and security protections that will add even more value.

Siding. Replacing a home’s siding can dramatically add to the curb appeal and provide a buyer with the benefit of easy maintenance.

An investment in foam-backed vinyl, which offers insulation that will cut heating and cooling costs, is a real plus for buyers. According to Remodeling Magazine‘s 2014 “Cost vs. Value” Report (www.costvsvalue.com) in cooperation with Realtor Magazine, the cost recouped can be nearly 79%. An investment in fiber-cement siding, a fireproof product, can result in a 93.2% cost recovery.

The front door. Did you know that replacing your front door tops the list of effective upgrades? Steel entry doors are the most popular. In the Houston area, your cost recovery for installation of a steel door is 105%, according to the “Cost vs. Value” Report.front door

If purchasing a steel door is outside your budget, putting down a fresh coat of paint on the existing front door is an effective alternative. You’ll also want to replace the hardware or at least clean it up with a polish and make sure the entry way is presented in a warm white light for evening showings.

Kitchen update. Updated kitchens another top on buyers’ lists. A minor kitchen remodel can recoup 90% of costs in the Houston area, while a major kitchen remodel has lower returns at 64%.

Repainting the kitchen is a good start. Outdated vinyl flooring can be replaced with tile or laminate and complemented with new countertops. You might want to consider bringing in new matching appliances. Cabinets may need to be replaced or, for a lower cost solution, can be sanded and painted or stained. New hardware and lighting can go a long way to give a kitchen a smart look.

Attic conversion. Consider converting your attic into another bedroom or an office. Converting your attic is a great way to add more space and increase the value of a home. Because the price of most homes is calculated by the square footage, the added living space will definitely pay off. A three-bedroom house will bring you a higher selling price than two bedrooms.

Decking. Adding a deck is a cost-effective way to increase your home’s living area while adding to the beauty of the property. Buyers love the idea of relaxing and eating outdoors on a deck and having an added area for entertaining guests.

Bathroom update. Updated bathrooms are high on the list of what buyers are looking for in the Houston area. A bathroom remodel for bathroom remodela Houston house with a mid-range price can result in a cost recovery of nearly 80%. You can go a long way on a little remodeling; don’t overdo it if you want to recover more costs. Even limited work, such as replacing the tile, vanity, and medicine cabinet or having the grout professionally cleaned, can greatly add to your return.

Experts do warn that if you have only one bathroom, you may want to consider putting remodeling dollars toward a second one. Many buyers won’t even think about purchasing a home with only one bathroom.

Before proceeding with any remodeling project, talk with a local Realtor to get upgrade recommendations and information about the market in your area. You’ll be able to find out what upgrades are a good idea and how much value they’ll add to your home. You’ll also learn which upgrades just don’t make sense.