If you’re planning to sell your home, consider the two most important factors that influence whether your house will sell: presentation and price. Period!

Before the first buyer ever sees your home, it is critical for you as a seller to understand the weight and impact of these factors and to implement best practices for both.

Contrary to what you might guess, why is this so important? Once your home is on the market, the first people to see it are likely to be other real estate agents. An “MLS caravan,” “agent open house” or “office tour” are common methods your Realtor may employ to gain exposure for the property. In fact, they are among the best tools available to sell your property.

In essence, the agents who represent prospective buyers for your home become your “customers.” If buyers’ agents sense that pride of ownership is absent or that the price is too high relative to the condition of your home, they may never return with their buyers.

Once that happens, you probably will have lost the best sources of ready buyers. It has oft been stated and never more true than here, “You only have one chance for a first impression.”

The best practice for maximizing presentation is to decide which changes and upgrades will give you, the seller, the best ROI — or Return On Improvement. Spend your improvement capital on the things that give you the most payback.

One of the best places to spend your dollars is on professional staging. Discuss this and other improvements such as carpeting, painting, landscaping, etc., with your agent to help determine the most productive outcome.

The best practice for pricing can be more elusive. Santa Barbara is well known for all of its wonderful yet very diverse neighborhoods. It’s one factor that continually attracts buyers here despite overall economic conditions. If all of the homes in our town were similar, it would be easy.

But since they aren’t, your best approach to “right pricing” is to rely on the working partnership with your agent. He or she is the expert who is in the business of knowing value — day in and day out. Work with him or her to really know the comparable properties, both for sale and sold.

Gaining a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the current market as it relates to your specific home will automatically point you to the right price.

As a seller, make your best first impression with presentation and pricing. If your first “customers” are impressed, they will do the selling for you.

Paul Suding, a real estate agent with Cool Santa Barbara Homes and Village Properties, is president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. He can be contacted at paul@villagesite.com or 805.455.8055.