Planning and preparation can make the difference in getting top value for your real estate. Here are some suggestions you should consider when you sell.

1. Understand why you are selling your home. Your motivation to sell is the determining factor for how you will approach the sale of your home. It will affect everything from your asking price to how much time, money and effort you are willing to invest to prepare your home for sale.

2. Keep the reasons for selling your home to yourself. If you are asked why you have decided to sell, simply respond that your housing needs have changed. Don’t give a buyer leverage in negotiations by knowing your motivation.

3. Deciding on an asking price needs professional guidance. As a seller, you will want to get a sales price as close to your list price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high, you run the risk of not being taken seriously by buyers and having your house sit on the market for a long time. If you price the home too low, you could be costing yourself thousands of dollars. Contact a Coldwell Banker agent to find sales prices and trends of homes in your neighborhood.

4. Get a competitive market analysis from a Coldwell Banker agent so you will know your competition. Take note of both the listing prices, and the sales prices.

5. Get an appraisal. A good appraisal can be a huge benefit in marketing your home and helping you set a realistic asking price. A word of caution: an appraisal is not a guarantee that your house will sell for that price, and you also may not like the appraisal value you are quoted.

6. Understand what tax assessments mean. Some people think that tax assessments are a way of evaluating a home. The difficulty here is that the assessments are based on a number of criteria that may not be related to property values, so they may not necessarily reflect your home’s true value.

7. Find a good real estate agent. Take the time to locate the agent who is committed to your needs and selling your home with a good marketing plan.

8. Ensure that you have room to negotiate. Before settling on an asking price, make sure you leave yourself enough room to bargain. A buyer is more likely to make a full-priced offer on a home that is priced right before making a low offer on a home that is priced too high.

9. Make the appearance of your home count. The look and feel of a home will generate more emotional response from prospective buyers than any other factor.

10. Invite the honest opinions of others. The biggest mistake you can make is to rely solely on your own judgment. Don’t be shy about seeking the opinions of others. You must be objective about your home’s strong and weak points. Work with a Coldwell Banker agent who will give you honest and unbiased opinions about what should be done to make your home more marketable.

11. Clean everything, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may seem. Make all the minor repairs needed. Competition is still. Don’t give potential buyers excuses not to buy your home.

12. Allow potential buyers to visualize themselves in your home. Avoid clutter such as knickknacks, clothing lying around, or dirty dishes. Decorate in neutral colors like white or beige and place a few carefully chosen items to add some warmth or character.

13. Get rid of all offensive odors. Odd smells like traces of food, pets, or cigarette smoke can kill a sale quickly. If potential buyers see a dog or notice you smoking a cigarette or cigar, they’ll start seeing stains or smelling odors, even if they aren’t there. Don’t leave any clues.

14. Disclose everything. Smart sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects in writing. This will reduce liability and prevent costly lawsuits later on.

15. The more buyer prospects, the better. Work closely with your Coldwell Banker agent to maximize your marketing. Having several interested buyers can only drive the price of a home up.

16. Keep your emotions in check during showings and negotiations. Let go of the emotion you have invested in your home. Use a businesslike manner and be detached. Let your Coldwell Banker agent handle the bargaining negotiations.

17. Learn why your buyer is motivated to buy. The better you know your buyer, the more leverage you have to negotiate. As a rule, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property for the least amount of money. If you know the buyer needs to move in quickly, this can help you get a better price.

18. Find out what the buyer can really afford. Work with buyers who are pre-approved for a home loan so you know exactly how much they are going to finance and how much will be spent as a down payment.

19. Find out when the buyer would like to close. Knowledge of a buyer’s deadline for completing negotiations again creates an advantage for you to get the most possible money.

20. Never sign a contract on your next home until you sell your current one. You may find yourself stuck with two mortgage payments.

21. Moving out before you sell can also put you at a disadvantage. Empty homes give the feel of being abandoned or neglected. Buyers who know you already have another home may feel they have an advantage to negotiate a lower price.

22. Deadlines create a serious disadvantage. Don’t try to sell by a certain date. This adds unnecessary pressure to sell and can cost you thousands of dollars off the asking price.

23. Don’t take a low offer personally. Invariably the initial offer is below both what you were expecting and what they buyer is actually willing to pay. Don’t get upset. Evaluate the offer objectively. This is merely a starting point for negotiations.

24. Turn that low offer around. You can counter a low offer with one that is just under your original asking price. This lets the buyer know that you don’t take their first offer seriously, but at the same time are going to be flexible.

25. Resist the temptation to deviate from the contract. Do not risk the collapse of the sale because of a single, seemingly insignificant deviation. Your Coldwell Banker professional agent is experienced in contract terms and real estate law. Use a professional to represent you in the sale of your home.