I always find it amazing on how one house can be listed in the market, have a small number of viewing in the first few days and then a concluded sale shortly, whilst another similar house in the same vicinity languishes in the market for months. It may be luck, but in our experience, preparation is everything, and owners" participation is crucial to make that sale.

The three most important factors in selling a property are location, pricing and condition of the property. As location is given for any property, the two issues that can make or break the sale is price and condition. For pricing the property, you can call your favorite estate agent or valuer to get an indication of price. Remember, over-pricing your property will help other properties in the vicinity be sold. So price wisely.

With pricing sorted out, the most crucial thing you can do is to prepare your property for sale better than any others in competition with yours. We always prepare a "walk through list" with our clients on what needs to be done to ensure the property is market driven to ensure a sale. The "walk through list" comprises the following:

Exterior. First impressions are everything and we get a lot of purchasers who want to look at the property from the outside first before making a decision to view the property. So take an objective look at your property from across the road and look at your property as if a buyer will. What impresses you? The landscaped garden, the well maintained exterior? Or the broken gate and window panes, the faded paint. If there is no allure to the buyer, there is no sale!

For Exteriors, we generally we advise the following to any property owners who want to sell their properties (mainly houses):

Overall appearance: Remove any rubbish or clutter from the porch, driveway and garden. This includes fallen tree branches and leaves, old cars or parts, broken bicycles or home fixtures. Also a good clean on the facade, may it be a thorough clean or a coat of new paint. Do not forget the outside drain and the curb area, ensuring its clean.

Landscape: Though not very expensive, it does play an important role in the sale of a property. Just ensure its simple, clean and neat, with the grass cut and the trees trimmed.

Gutters and rainwater down pipes. Check gutters and rainwater down pipes to make sure they are not blocked. A viewing on a rainy day could take place and you don"t want it leaking whilst you are showing the house. Moreover, these leaks can cause stains to your newly cleaned and painted house.

Gates, Fences, Doors and Windows. Please make sure the all the above are functioning properly, with the windows cleaned.

Generally as an owner, you cannot ignore the repair and maintenance of basic items, whilst hoping that the potential buyer will either not notice or, telling them that you will repair or replace the item. Most buyers cannot envision in full the beauty of your home. They are not able to look at a space that needs a fresh coat of paint and imagine it well done. Telling them that something will be painted and will be in working order will only work with certain buyers, but many will not be able to see the house after the improvements are done and will find the perfect excuse not to consider your property.

Interior. When it comes to preparing a house for sale, a Paint Job gives the best returns. Paint walls or rooms that are dirty or currently have dark paint colors. Keep the colors natural or neutral—off-white and beige are the best.

The Flooring Preparation is also very important. Giving the parquet a grind and a new layer of lacquer and also preparing the stone based flooring finishes has a huge impact on the potential buyer. Just remember, most buyers are unable to envision the beauty of your property if its not done yet.

Ensuring the house is in Working Condition is also important. Check and ensure all electrical items/points, toilets, taps and doors are in working condition. Also the house must be Safe. A rattling and wobbly staircase or railing could cause to the potential buyer.

Ensure the house is Clean and not Cluttered. A thorough cleaning always shows the house better, especially without the clutter.

If your Real Estate Agent gets the buyer into the house, it is important to make the buyers visit enjoyable and memorable and that means having the house ready. The buyer must be comfortable and remain in the house as long as possible. You do not want a "put off" which will give them a reason to consider the next house on their shopping list

The Viewing. ShowTime is here and it is showdown!!!. Open all windows and doors, with curtains, blinds and coverings opened to ensure maximum natural lighting in the house. Potential buyers like homes that are bright and it also gives an illusion of space. Turn on as many lights as possible.

Also make sure the house does not have any bad Smells i.e. stale air, greasy cooking odors. Air the house before the viewing and if possible have some natural scents.

Again please ensure No Clutter. The property also has to be spotlessly Clean with special attention to bathrooms and the kitchen.

These are tips that cost very little and make a big difference to your property. It is simply remarkable how just a little bit of attention to the small details will add to that allure that the potential buyer is looking for!

Previn is the Chief Executive Officer of Zerin Properties, a Licensed and Registered Estate Agency Service Provider. For feedback and inquiries, please call 013 3311 007 or e-mail previn@virtualrealty.com.my