Before putting your property up for sale, take a long, hard look at it. Be objective; see it as a potential buyer would. Don’t view it as your home – with a bit of luck, and planning, it won’t be for much longer – view it as a saleable commodity, keeping your target purchaser always in mind.

Here are our top 10 tips to get you moving. Some of them may not apply to your particular property (if it’s an apartment without a garden, for example), but the general principles will.

1. Get your timing right

Spring and summer are peak selling periods in most markets. Happily, they coincide with the times when most properties look their best. Late summer, when the school year starts, tends to be particularly slow, as do Christmas and the early New Year.

2. Boost kerb appeal

Before they make an appointment to view, most potential buyers will examine your property from the road. First impressions count!

It’s quite possible that you’ve almost ceased to notice the outside of your home; after a hard day, you’re probably more interested in getting inside and putting your feet up. Prospective purchasers, however, will not only be looking for an attractive exterior, they will also be seeking evidence that the property has been well maintained. Any sign that they will need to spend time or money may put them off.

Arrange any necessary repairs, such as repositioning slipped tiles and mending leaking gutters, before you go on the market. If paintwork looks tired, freshen it up.

Tidy your front garden and repair damaged fencing. Window boxes and planters can really enhance a property, while weed-infested paving will make it look neglected.

3. Light and bright

Having got potential purchasers through the door, now’s your chance to wow them with the inside. Keep decoration simple, using light, neutral colours to make your home appear more spacious. Touch up any chipped or scuffed paintwork.

Consider painting over patterned wallpaper. Your aim is to create a blank canvas against which people can imagine their own belongings. With a few cans of emulsion, you can achieve maximum effect for minimum expenditure.

4. Cut the clutter

Here again, your aim is to enable potential purchasers to visualise themselves living in the property. Less is more when it comes to ornaments, and steer clear of anything too individual. If people don’t share your taste, they may unconsciously be influenced against buying your home. Family photographs may distract, and are therefore best kept out of sight.

Charity shops are always glad of donations. If you can’t bear to part with some items altogether, ensure they are stored tidily in the loft, or check out one of the storage warehouses that are springing up around the country.

5. Dress to impress

Make it easy for prospective buyers to see the primary purpose and potential of each room. If a bedroom is a double, make sure it contains a double bed, not a single or, worse still, no bed at all. If you’ve converted a fourth bedroom into a study, market your property as a three-bedder or change the study back into a bedroom. If you’re selling through an estate agent, he or she can advise you on the option most attractive to your target purchaser.

Consider replacing worn or stained carpet. You don’t need to have an entire room recarpeted if only a small area is affected; patching can be very successful.

If you live in an older property, it may be worth reinstating period features, such as fireplaces, cornices and ceiling roses, which were swept away in the days when such things were unfashionable. Reclamation yards and antiques centres are good sources.

Subtle lighting is a must. Seasonal (for example, Christmas) decorations are fine, but keep them tasteful and don’t overdo them. Flowers are also fine, but avoid strong-smelling ones, such as lilies.

6. Keep it clean

We know it’s obvious, but do make sure your home is sparkling clean from top to bottom. Not only will this make it more immediately attractive, but it will also reassure prospective buyers that it has been well maintained in other, more fundamental, respects.

7. Kitchen matters

The received wisdom used to be that, as purchasers would wish to fit their own choice of kitchen, a vendor was better off dropping the price than spending money on updating.

These days, most people would rather buy a home that already has a reasonably stylish kitchen. If yours is just a little tired, you can pep it up by fitting new cabinet doors, worktops, handles, tiles and flooring as necessary. If it’s totally exhausted, consider replacing it. With so many good-quality, reasonably priced ranges available, you can do so without breaking the bank.

Ignore your personal taste if it inclines to the elaborate or highly coloured, and go for something simple. Resist the urge to save money by indulging in DIY unless you are confident of your skills; poorly fitted units are a real turn-off.

8. Bathroom basics

As far as suites go, you can have any colour you like … as long as it’s white. If yours is simply past its first youth, have it professionally cleaned. If it’s coloured, you may do better to replace it. This applies particularly to strong colours like the notorious avocado, of which examples can still be found.

9. The outdoor life

Even if you’re not the world’s greatest gardener, you can make your outside space look inviting – a few colourful pots and planters can work wonders – and show its possibilities. For instance, if you have a patio, demonstrate its potential for al fresco eating and entertaining with some strategically placed garden furniture. Ensure that, at the very least, your garden looks neat. Your shed should be well maintained and its contents tidy.

10. Winning ways

Don’t stop at creating the right look and feel for your home; giving some attention to your personal style and approach can pay dividends. Although the people who buy your property won’t actually be buying you, it may help to encourage them to make an offer if you seem like someone they can relate to. Be welcoming without being overwhelming. Ask a neighbour to look after your pets during viewings if possible; your dog’s enthusiastic greeting may not be to everyone’s liking. Be prepared to provide information about the property and your local area. Be alert to any feedback about your home (positive or negative), as it may be helpful for future viewings.