You've already read that staging your house can help you sell it. But what if you don't have the money to hire a pro--or redecorate?
In my experience, there's still plenty you can do. The number one weapon in your sales arsenal: elbow grease. When a potential buyer comes to view your home, it should be immaculate. If you're marketing your property at the same time as a nearly identical one in town, and your home is significantly cleaner, it will make a much better impression on a buyer--one that can be worth thousands when it comes time to make an offer. That may sound obvious, but so many people ignore this rule of thumb that it's worth repeating.
It's hard to maintain a spotless home, especially if you have young children and lack cleaning help, but it will generally pay off. If you keep your home within two hours of being spotless at all times, you'll be better able to respond to unexpected showings. Your broker may be able to persuade spur of the moment shoppers to come back in a couple of hours, after you've had a chance to tidy up, but may not be able to get them to come back the next day. Remember, you only need one buyer to make a sale, so don't let the ick factor--whether it's sticky floors, a grimy bathtub, or pet odor--derail your deal.
You've already heard that decluttering is important. Even if you've done so already, make another sweep of your home with a neutral observer, like your broker, to make sure you've done the best you can on this front. It's easy to stop noticing piles of papers, toys, etc. that you've lived with for a while. Even a small amount of clutter-- or an outsized piece of furniture--can make a room look dramatically smaller to a visitor.
If the current state of the housing market is making you feel powerless, put that energy to good use: Clean your house or declutter. It'll pay off in the end.