While some house sellers are brewing fresh coffee, arranging flowers and strewing designer carrier bags around the place, others aren't quite so meticulous.
In a sign of just how competitive the property market has become, a two-bedroom flat in Leigh-on-Sea has just sold for £15,000 more than the asking price - despite being mouldy and filled with rubbish.
Even estate agents Scott & Stapleton couldn't find anything nice to say in a listing headed 'Wipe your feet on the way out!'.
"Not for the faint hearted this first floor flat is being sold as seen, rubbish and all! Having recently just had to evict some charming (not) tenants the vendors of this property have had enough and can't even face setting foot in what used to be their sweet and charming home," reads the property listing.
"I can't flower this one up or use my normal estate agent jargon to make this sound any better. The property is full of rubbish, there is mould on the walls and I think there may even be some fleas there to keep me company when I carry out the viewings."
All the same, the property sold almost immediately, for £140,000 - £15,000 more than the asking price. The new buyer is believed to be planning to live in the place, after a major clean-up job and renovation.
The prospect of it being sold as a buy-to-let investment worried the agents, who also handle lettings, and who assured potential landlords that 'that this is not even close to being a true reflection of a Scott & Stapleton tenant'.
There's every reason to come clean about a property's failings in a listing - quite apart from the attention it can attract. There can be few house-hunters who haven't traipsed out at least once to see a 'charming character cottage', only to discover a gloomy hovel.
And it doesn't matter how many viewings an agent fixes up if every potential buyer is horrified.
Scott & Stapleton is by no means the first estate agent to conclude that honesty is the best policy. Most famously, London's Roy Brooks made his name and fortune in the 1960s by giving brutally accurate descriptions of his properties.
"Although it reeks of damp or worse, the plaster is coming off the walls and daylight peeps through a hole in the roof, it is still habitable judging by the bed of rags, fag ends and empty bottles in one corner," read one.
"Plenty of scope for the socially aspiring to express their decorative taste and get their abode in The Glossy, and nothing to stop them putting Westminster on their notepaper. Comprises 10 rather unpleasant rooms with slimy back yard, 4,650 Freehold. Tarted up, these houses make 15,000."
More recently, a house in Morpeth was described by the agents as "Looking unremarkable from the outside, it deserves further investigation from the monumental masonry cracks as soon as you open the door, to the crumbling handrail and dodgy stone steps leading to the garage and small garden."