Here in Brooklyn (New York), the best ways would be the following:
1) Remove any and all clutter, junk, old cloths and the like. If you have any items you wanted to donate to charity, now is the time. Neaten and clean the entire house.
2) Your front door makes a vital first impression, if the door is old/ugly... put on a new one. In most cases you would only spend about $500.00.
3) Paint any rooms that need it and/or have not been painted in the last five years. Use bright neutral colors.
4) If there is a blatant repair that needs to be done take care of it before you start showing the house (i.e. leaky faucets, broken cabinets/windows, etc).
5) Make sure the landscaping if you have any is neat and pretty.
6) Optional but worth your while....If you have older hardwood/parquet floors it would be worth while to have them sanded and polyurethaned.
7) Price your home right when you put it up for sale. When you price the house right buyers will see the value, get excited and offer more money!
8) Make sure that your home is being marketed properly and agressively to make sure that potential buyers, real estate agents and the entire real estate community will be able to find it with ease!
With regard to home improvements, anything other than what I mentioned above may not be justified on a cost/added value basis. A consumers best bet would be to have a professional real estate agent in their local area visit the home and advise as to how the value can be increased!
If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. Good luck!
Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783