Although it might seem that the only way to sell a property and release much-needed funds is to sink a tonne of cash into renovation work, there is a way out. Deft home improvements and nifty presentation tricks can help shift the hardest property - without the need to go into the red. Unless a property's decor is unique or extremely expensive, appropriate pricing also pulls in the punters. Price is what drives sales, said Angela Lai, Centaline's sales manager for Mid-Levels. 'A reasonable asking price is more important than anything,' she said. 'The most attractive thing you can do is to put the price down now, as there is big competition.' Asking your estate agent for advice on pricing costs nothing and pays dividends, as does obtaining a second opinion. Checking a building's transaction records on the property section of the government's website can also help sellers nail the right market price. However, it is equally essential that your property is clean and bright, and makes the best possible impression. If your property has mould or damp, this should be removed. Potential buyers are also more willing to spend time looking at apartments if the lights and air conditioning are on, Ms Lai said. 'It's a very small thing, but it really makes a difference. Especially in the summer, which is very wet and hot, we suggest owners turn on the air conditioning one hour before someone comes in. They will walk in and feel comfortable and cool.' Likewise, lights should be switched on before viewing if it is dark. 'This is not to mislead, but to show the apartments in their best state to clients,' she said. Sellers on a tight budget could brighten a property and maximise its appeal by putting in feature lights, said Clifton Leung, president of the Clifton Leung Design Workshop. Other inexpensive tricks to make homes stand out include adding rugs to living areas and streamlining furniture. Curtains, blinds, floor lamps, paintings and candles are important elements in bringing out the mood of a house. If your budget is really tight, applying a fresh coat of paint and replacing anything old or broken should be a priority, Mr Leung said. Cleaning windows also makes properties look attractive and bright. Heavy curtains should be taken down and sheer curtains put in their place, while replacing old bulbs with new or higher-voltage bulbs is an easy improvement to make. 'Finish with a good clean - that's a minimal cost but can do the magic,' Mr Leung said. Another swift way to maximise your chances of selling without breaking the bank is to ensure easy flat viewing. Letting estate agents know that they can show clients around a property without any difficulties can significantly improve sellers' prospects. 'This makes a lot of difference to sales,' Ms Lai said. A good telephone attitude is another plus. 'Owners who are not helpful can scare clients or agents away and they won't call you again,' she said. It is rarely necessary to carry out major renovation as prospective purchasers may prefer to renovate and decorate themselves. Renovation and decoration costs can be included within mortgages, which removes the burden on the seller to put extra money into such costs. However, some districts require a different approach. 'In Mid-Levels, people expect properties to look very nice, so renovation helps for the selling market,' Ms Lai said. 'Decorating up can also help for deluxe apartments.' Makeovers and renovation work are best focused on key areas. Number one was the kitchen, as this was where many female buyers first looked, Mr Leung said. 'See whether the counter top has enough space or if the storage is big enough,' he said. 'If your budget allows, replacing kitchen cabinet doors would be ideal.' Bathrooms, likewise, reward attention. In addition to ensuring that all bathrooms are clean and tidy, installing new sets of sanitary fittings can create greater purchase appeal. 'Remember to bleach and clean the grouting in between the tiles or renew the tiles as necessary,' Mr Leung said. Finally, apply a new coat of light paint to create feature walls. 'If you want to add a personal touch, apply some colours or texture on some of the walls,' he said. Adding a piece or two of feature furniture can also complete an apartment. Professional advice can help if your property demands a major facelift - even if your finances are stretched. 'Professionals are your magicians, making your makeover or renovation more effective in the sense of good use of materials and money,' Mr Leung said. While unsupervised renovation work can waste time and money, professionals can help with practical design decisions and co-ordinate suppliers and contractors.