Tips for staging an open house

One of the many services a REALTOR® provides when you are selling your home is an effective marketing plan. An important part of that overall plan may be an “open house” for prospective buyers. 
Your REALTOR® may suggest you first hold an open house for other REALTORS® for several reasons, including other REALTORS® are already working with buyers who may be interested in your property. These REALTORS® will inspect your home with their buyers in mind, and will act quickly when they feel there is a possible match.
An open house for REALTORS® is also more convenient for you, eliminating many of the single inspections that would otherwise be necessary. Also, REALTORS® seeing your home during an open house can offer their objective views about your property, possibly giving you additional ideas to enhance your home's saleability. 
Your REALTOR® will likely recommend you hold at least one, or possibly more, open houses for the public, as well. This type of open house tends to attract many browsers, but if your home is clean, attractive, in good repair and well-priced, it may just turn a browser into a buyer. Many purchasers want to get the “feel” of several neighbourhoods before they begin working with a REALTOR® — an open house will attract these buyers.
Usually, your open house for the public will be held on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon since that is when most people are likely to have free time for cruising around the neighbourhoods they are interested in. Although you may be curious, it is a good idea for you and your family to leave the home during an open house. Your presence could be distracting and potential buyers may rush their visit to avoid disturbing you. They may also be hesitant to comment on or discuss your home while you are there. Your pets should also be temporarily removed since their presence can also be distracting.
Before an open house, you will want to put your home in tip-top shape. Your REALTOR® will be able to give you suggestions on making it more appealing to buyers.
Your REALTOR® will ask for the name, address and telephone number of everyone who comes through your home and will also try to walk through the house with each visitor. But since your home will be open to the public, a few precautions will ensure your open house is a secure and enjoyable experience for everyone:
Remove or lock away valuables such as jewelry, cameras, CDs, valuable coins and currency.
Attend to any potential hazards, such as electrical wires crossing open areas, sharp table or counter top corners, slippery stairs and walkways or fragile items that can be easily damaged.
In poor weather, provide a place for overshoes, boots, umbrellas and coats.
Avoid cooking food with strong odours. The scent of fresh-brewed coffee, homemade bread and cookies, on the other hand, can be very welcoming.
A warm fire on a cold day can be a nice touch, but ask your REALTOR® first as he or she will have to tend to the fire in your absence.
Often the smallest defect can be a turn-off to some potential buyers. Use this handy check list to assess what needs cleaning, mending or changing before the big day.
Floor coverings (including carpeting, tile, linoleum, hardwood, etc.):
Dirty or stained?
Worn or damaged?
Can the hardwood under carpeting be restored? 
Walls, ceilings, baseboards:
Fingerprints or stains?
Holes, nails, tape residue?
All neutral or complementary colours? 
Do they squeak?
Are the handles secure and working properly?
Stains or other damage? 
Clean and crack-free?
Do they open easily?
Are the coverings clean and easy to open?
Is there sufficient light?
Broken switches or exposed wiring? 
Pet areas:
Are they clean, organized and odour-free? 
Kitchen and bathrooms:
Are the counters organized?
Sinks and faucets working properly? 
Other rooms:
All cleaned and dusted?
Has the clutter been collected and removed?
Are books, toys, clothes all neatly stored?
Are the mirrors clean? 
Outside the home:
Are all exterior surfaces including decks, pools, walkways and driveways clean, clear of clutter and in good condition?
Do gates open easily?
Are the lawns mowed, walkways cleared of snow, leaves removed, trees pruned, gardens weeded, hedges trimmed?
It all sounds like a lot to take care of, but having your home and property in good shape will payoff in the long run.