In your kitchen, clear everything - magnets, photos, memos, kids' art - off the refrigerator. My sister did this on her own without being told, and even she (who loves a fridge covered with her family's stuff) admits the fridge looks better without all the clutter.
Clean off the top of the fridge while you're at it; you'll improve its efficiency (by allowing air to flow around the top and back of it) at the same time.
This next tip is something my sister heard about years ago: When you're showing your house, always keep a couple of large, empty Rubbermaid-type bins handy. Just before a showing, do a quick sweep of the entire house, putting all stray items into the bins. Then close the lids and stash them someplace inconspicuous.
After the showing you can return everything to its rightful place. Keep the bins empty until the next time you need them.
Be aware of your house's smell. Ask a good friend or family member about it if you're not sure what your home really smells like. If you have pets (especially dogs), make sure you take care of any strong odours. You might be inclined to bring out a bunch of artificial air fresheners, but be considerate of those who have chemical sensitivities. Better to stick a tray of Pillsbury Ready To Bake! cookies in the oven half an hour before a scheduled showing. Nothing says "home" like the aroma of fresh baked goods.
Don't be afraid to repaint your rooms and replace worn or outdated elements such as flooring. I once cleaned for a family who were trying to sell their house. The walls were painted with a sponge finish in a very dated peach colour, and the floor in their eat-in kitchen was a dingy and scruffy brown vinyl from the 70s.
The house was on the market for months without any serious offers until they repainted everything in a soft, clean white, and replaced the vinyl flooring with a neutral, contemporary pattern. After they de-cluttered, and addressed a strong dog odour in the house, the home looked immaculate and sold quickly.
Ask your realtor for advice about tweaking your home. He or she should know what to do to improve a home's value and selling price. Realtors can also refer you to established home stagers if you require more in-depth assistance.
copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow