Updates and improvements are key selling features of homes for sale and can significantly boost their desirability and value. When dealing with a strict budget, you may feel the urge to stick to cosmetic fixes only. However, while these fixes can certainly boost the desirability of your home, smart updates that reduce maintenance or repair costs tend to add the most value. The following are three smart ways to increase the value of your home:

1. Home Inspection

No matter how great your home looks from the outside, the items you can't easily see will probably have the biggest impact on its value. One of the best ways to boost your home's sale price is to hire a qualified home inspector before you list it.

A seller's home inspection can assess the integral parts of a home any potential buyer would be concerned with, including its structure, plumbing, electrics, and heating. By having an inspection completed before your home even hits the market, you can correct outstanding or potentially expensive defects to get it priced to its best advantage.

The potential to address issues, price your home right, and raise your bargaining power makes a pre-sale inspection well worth the investment.

2. Low-Maintenance Landscaping

The exterior of your home is the first thing buyers see, and this impression carries a lot of weight in how they perceive the rest of the home. Fortunately, it's possible to create an attractive exterior space without a mammoth price tag. Smart landscaping can save you money in maintenance costs while creating an attractive first impression for potential buyers.

When searching for garden plants and bushes, seek out hearty varietals that are native to your region. This will cut down on the care needed to make them thrive. Potted plants are a great, inexpensive way to add a seasonal pop of color to your outside space. Mulch, rocks, and crushed stone are another quick and easy way to ramp up your curb appeal without investing in expensive maintenance.

Another way to boost the overall impression of your lawn is to ensure walkways, sidewalks, and driveways are edged and tidy. Remove weeds between pavers and consider adding solar lighting to pathways and gardens for easy navigation this can even give your yard an extra "wow" factor at night.

3. Energy-Efficient Fixtures

According to the US Department of Energy, roughly 5 percent of a home's energy costs come from lighting. Swapping out energy-hogging light fixtures for energy-efficient ones can give you big savings as a homeowner and be an enticing prospect for potential buyers. In fact, replacing just 15 inefficient light bulbs with energy-saving ones could put an extra $50 per year in your pocket. While initially more expensive, CFL and LED bulbs outlast traditional incandescent bulbs for years, signaling to potential buyers that you prioritize prudent home care.

In the kitchen and laundry room, appliances with good energy ratings increase your home's attractiveness and boost its value. Look for appliances that carry the Energy Star qualification to find the best efficiency for your home.

Smart upgrades are the best ways to increase the value of your home. Regardless of which ones you choose to implement, they can make a positive impression on buyers, increase your home's value, and help you find your way to a quick sale.