If the time comes, for whatever reason, that you need to sell your property it is vital to give yourself the best possible chance of finding a willing buyer and to ensure that you can sell your home more easily in these difficult market conditions.

Often just a few surprisingly quick and simple wrinkles will help you get the maximum price for what is probably your most valuable asset and you should never underestimate how important first impressions are to a potential buyer. We have listed some of the more useful tips to help you get that house sale moving.

Most house buyers make a mental yes or no decision within three minutes of viewing a property so do make sure that the outside of your house is as appealing as possible. Keep the lawn mown, pick up any litter or old straw and put rubbish bins out of sight down. Plant brightly coloured bedding plants in your flower beds or in tubs, this can often transform a plain frontage.

Basic tidying up and DIY can make a huge difference to the way your house comes across. For instance paint the front door and even add a new brass knocker, clear gutters of old leaves, get rid of mould spots in the bathroom and cover up old water stains on walls and ceilings. This can be done by painting first with white gloss paint to seal them then adding the top coat in the original colour.

Keep the hallway clear at all times as this is the first port of call for any viewer, so make it seem as spacious and clutter-free as possible. Clear away coats, boots, toys, golf clubs and bikes.

In fact clear away any items that might put your buyer off buying the property and bear in mind that a large and inviting hall can encourage a buyer to look at the rest of the property. If you hall looks dark and poky try hanging a mirror to make it seem bigger and try an arrangement of cream or pale flowers or white flowering pot plants – it all helps to create an illusion of light and space.

Be sure to clean all the windows. Not only does it look better, but clean windows let in more light which is a key selling point for many buyers. If the windows look tatty replace any cracked or broken glass and replace missing putty. It may also pay to scrub the window frames and sills if they look tired and dirty, you would be surprised how that can cheer up a house.

Potential home buyers recently listed the smell of cigarette smoke as the biggest turnoff when viewing a property. The smell of stale tobacco can seriously devalue your property so banish all internal smokers until the house is sold and NEVER leave ashtrays around that are overflowing with old cigarette stubs.

Put pets outdoors when you have a viewing and be sure to remove smelly dog baskets and cat litter trays. Animal hairs on furniture can be very unappealing to non-animal lovers and a constantly barking dog, or worse still one that keeps jumping up, will drive even the keenest buyer away.

A really clean house is often the key to getting a good price. Apply plenty of elbow grease especially to fridges, ovens, work surfaces and toilets. You want to give the impression that not only is the house is loved and cared for but also well worth the asking price. Fresh flowers, lemon-scented household cleaners, lavender polish and classy room spray are all associated with a warm welcoming environment.

Keep your home clutter-free and it is also a good idea to de-personalise your living space while you’re having viewings. Professional selling agents will always recommend that potential buyers need to be able to imagine themselves in your home. This can mean clearing away photos, clutter on the mantelpiece, paperwork, items of clothing, children’s paintings and that growing pile of newspapers by the armchair.

To be prepared for those sudden short notice viewings, don’t be so disorganised that you can’t get the house clean and tidy in half an hour. Try to always keep kitchen work surfaces clean, the bath clean – with all towels hung up, the toilet seat down, dead plants or flowers cleared away and do the washing up on a regular basis. Never cook curry, chips or burnt toast when you are expecting a buyer.

Property valuers normally indicate that after a loft conversion an attractive modern fitted kitchen is the best value for money that homeowners can make to their property before selling. In addition a new bathroom, extension or a conservatory will increase the desirability of your property. Don’t forget though that if you can’t afford to have the builders in that even basic painting and decorating will add a new lease of life.

Given that a beautiful, easy-to-maintain garden helps to create the right first impression for over forty per cent of potential buyers it is well worth slaving away for a few weekends, tidying flower beds and cutting grass before you put your property on the market.

It is also a good idea to clear out any tool sheds and other outside buildings so that half-full paint tins, car parts, garden machinery, old boxes and other general clutter doesn’t appear to reduce the apparent amount of storage space.

Be cautious about what you say to prospective buyers, they will often try to pick up pointers in general conversation, asking apparently innocent questions that could lose you the sale. Never say you’re moving because the neighbours are a pain, the property is difficult to manage or the local roads are too busy or because you hate the area. Find a reason that sounds plausible and concentrate on all the good points of living in your home.

Finally here are a few tips to make your property appear homely for prospective buyers:

Put plenty of fresh flowers around.

Have a coffee pot on the go and some homemade biscuits ready.

Use designer room sprays like White Hyacinth from Jo Malone or Bluebell from Floris.

Light a wood fire if you have a proper fireplace, the smell of woodsmoke is incredibly evocative.

Put out new bars of soap and fresh toilet rolls in the loo.

Remove any dirty marks or spots from the carpets.

In country properties make sure outbuildings, barns or stableyards look tidy and easy to manage.

Keep long driveways neat and well-mown and repair gates and fencing.

Trim all the hedges and clear out ditches – you don’t want a blockage if it rains.

Try not to have any rows or heavy family discussions just before you are expecting a buyer to arrive, it is amazing how your home will retain a ‘bad’ atmosphere that can be picked up as soon the front door is opened.

Smile and try to look relaxed and don’t do a hard sell – it could easily put off your buyer.

If the buyer looks remotely interested in your property offer them some time and space to have another look around alone so that they get a chance to imagine how they would feel living in your home.