Make a good first impression―have the house tidy. Besides the fact that the house will look neater, it will make for a smoother showing if cupboard and closet doors open easily and people aren't tripping over items.
Less stuff makes the room appear bigger―reduce furniture and clutter as much as possible. Even small things like replacing a double bed with a single can create more space.
Have the front garden looking neat. Keep gardens and window boxes under control and free from long grass and weeds. If time is short, concentrate on the front yard instead of the back as first impressions are crucial.
Make sure bare floorboards are polished. Worn out and scratched floor boards make the whole house look shabby.
Clean out the gutters. Your home will look tidier as the buyers approach, plus full gutters can overflow in heavy rain which may worry prospective buyers.
Open windows as much as possible to get rid of any odors. Avoid smoking and pets in the house, as these smells may be offensive to the buyer.
Little touches can brighten up tired rooms. Paint some walls, put new handles on cupboards, put down a new rug or add a picture rail on the living room.
Fix anything that is broken. Wiggly door handles, missing trim, broken window glass―these little items should be fixed or replaced.
Check the tiles in your house. Replace missing tiles and replace the grout, if necessary.
Wash all of the curtains and windows. The house will look brighter and cleaner.
Give the oven and stove a good cleaning. Prospective buyers look into all sorts of place―even your oven. Many will judge the house on the kitchen.
Purchase a new shower curtain. If your curtain or liner has mildew along the bottom or just looks tired, a new shower curtain is an inexpensive way to liven up your bathroom.
Fix any leaking taps and make sure all faucets are easy to use. Most likely, they will all be tested by the prospective buyer. Hire a plumber, if needed.
At the Showing
Have some lights on in the house prior to the buyer's arrival, to create a bright and cheery welcome. For evening viewings, soft corner lighting creates a cozy and welcoming feeling.
If the weather is cool, have the furnace going. This shows buyers that the furnace operates well, plus makes the house inviting. If the weather is hot, have windows open or turn on the air conditioning. Let people feel comfortable in your home regardless of the outside conditions.
Have the aroma of fresh baked bread or baked goods. Bake a batch of cookies prior to the buyer's arrival. Or, set your bread machine to turn on a few minutes before the showing.
Set vases of flowers around the house. Flowers draw the eye and brighten rooms.
Turn on some quiet music in the background. Choose something calm and unobtrusive so it is hardly noticed, to soothe the buyer. A relaxed buyer may take more time to look around.
Sweep the front path and porch beforehand. Again, first impressions are key in selling a home. A clean entry gives a good feel before they even enter the house.
Turn off your phone's ringer or divert calls. A phone ring can be annoying, especially if no one is able to answer it. Remember that people could be listening if you use an answering machine, so turn off the volume.
Keep things tidy on a daily basis. Make beds every morning, wash dishes right away, and pick up used towels.
Take any pets with you during showings. Obviously, goldfish and caged birds can stay, but dogs, even if they are kenneled, can be threatening or annoying to potential buyers.