The estate agent has been instructed; the glossy brochures mailed; the first viewing fixed and the sun is even threatening to shine. What next? The answer is obvious: spring clean the house, repair any blemishes, clear out the clutter and ensure the garden is looking its very best. Easier said than done, however, as we have to live in our homes while we try to sell them. However, this is one thing not worth compromising over. This is the most important transaction most will make in their lives, so it needs to done properly, regardless of the inconvenience.

The less grand the house, the more important it is that clutter is removed. Over-furnished rooms feel smaller. Jonathan Harington, of buying agents Haringtons UK, recalls show homes on developments where the furniture, down to table lamps, were made 25% smaller, thus making rooms seem larger. Emma Bishop of Strutt & Parker recommends removing five items, of whatever size, from each principal room.

A few will go for an expensive make over in an effort to achieve best price, but everyone should strive to remove any negatives. If you have children, Miss Bishop suggests, try judicious bribery to get them to clear away their toys: untidy children’s bedrooms are a real turn-off. Unsightly furniture, whether in the house or the garden, needs removing.

If there are flowers in pots, they need to be alive and, preferably, flowering. You are trying to sell a lifestyle. If yours looks unappealing, then viewers will have to force themselves to look beyond it. If your lifestyle is inviting, then people will be more inclined to want it. Attract one buyer and you have a negotiation; attract two or more and you have a bidding war. Given the huge differences in the sums of money involved, it must be worth getting the house looking its very best for as long as it takes to find that buyer.