The biggest financial transaction you'll probably ever make will be selling your house, and for the first time in two decades, you have a whole new problem to deal with: falling prices. So if you plan on selling your house anytime in the next few years, you should ask yourself one question before you spend money on any home improvements: How will this affect the resale value of my property? So here's some advice from CNN on what to do to sell your house when the time comes:

  • Before the first buyer crosses your threshold, have a professional inspector give your property the once-over. You're required by law to disclose any potential problems with the house - and bringing in an expert is the best way to spot them. Then you'll have an opportunity to fix those problems, so you don't have to reduce the price or haggle over closing costs. To find an inspector, try the American Society of Home Inspectors at
  • Next, boost your curb appeal. A home buyer will know whether they'll take a house seriously the minute they drive up. So do this: If your house has siding, power wash the exterior. Or consider a new paint job, and make it light yellow. Real estate agents swear there's something about a light yellow house that attracts buyer like moths to a flame.
  • Make it feel bigger. People need to imagine all their stuff in your space. So the rule of thumb is this: remove one piece of furniture from every room. If you've lived in the house more than 10 years, make that two pieces of furniture. If any of your rooms are painted a bright or unusual color - repaint them in a neutral color.
  • You know that buyers want closet space - so take half your clothes and stick them in storage.* Then, call in a cleaning service two weeks before your property goes on the market and make sure every nook & cranny is scrubbed. If you have pets, make sure they're out of the house and yard before you show the house. Do all that, and you'll be ready to sell. Or you may just fall in love with your house all over again.