Ask the expert: We want to make some improvements on our home so it will sell quickly. What do you suggest? I've got good news for you! Basic improvements are important and don't cost much if you do them yourself. * Can you paint? Freshening the rooms with a nice coat of paint comes first. If you have rooms or walls that are odd colors, paint these entire rooms in beige and install new electrical outlet covers. Check the woodwork to see if it needs to be touched up. * When faucets in the kitchen and master bath are showing their age, replace them with new faucets that have a modern style. The same is true for light fixtures. Sparkling new fixtures on a newly painted ceiling actually gives you a "new room." You could spend a lot of money on such projects as remodeling your entire kitchen, but dollar-for-dollar, you'll get a better return for freshening. * Of course, the kitchen is important. If you have a few thousand dollars to spend on a project, decorators say new countertops are a good choice. They don't have to be granite. Other choices: quartz as in Caesarstone or Cambria, DuPont's Zodiaq or solid surface Corian, or Eco's Cosentino or IceStone. * On the outside, paint the window frames and the front door. The door is especially important and can be made a contrasting color, like red. Make sure the trim around the roof isn't chipped and that your gutters and downspouts are properly attached. * If the roof has a dark streak or two, a roof-cleaning company can make it look new again. Black streaks are caused by bacteria known as gloeocapsa magma (algae growth). A professional roof cleaning will take them away. This is one job you can't do yourself. Reputable roof-cleaning companies use removal methods recommended by the Roof Cleaning Institute of America, but it probably only cost a couple of hundred dollars. Whether or not you decide to sell your home, you'll want to do that.