Start with an appraisal: that’s the number-one piece of advice from a customer who just sold her house.

Cindy, who lives in suburban Nashville, tried just about everything to sell her completely renovated, 1960’s –era split-level house. But in the end, it was a factor that she’d overlooked that cemented a deal.

Relocating for family reasons, Cindy initially listed with a local agent. That was a mistake, she says. The agent didn’t even bother to accompany potential buyers on showings. Re-listing with a different local agent was no better.

Meanwhile, Cindy received conflicting advice about how to price the house, which she estimated was worth about $350,000. One early deal fell through when the appraiser assigned by the buyer’s lender pegged the property’s value at $225,000. Unfamiliar with the area, he overlooked the rather important factors of a nearby recreational lake and the fact that the house was completely updated. And the listing agent didn’t fill him in, either, says Cindy.

She started exploring alternatives, even as she worked on getting an accurate appraisal to show potential buyers and their lenders. Listing with brought in three times the number of buyers than both prior agents combined. “Your system works, and I’ve recommended it to my neighbors,” she says.

It was the combination of a firmed-up appraisal and greater exposure that finally resulted in a signed contract that passed muster with the buyer’s lender.

Now ready to move, Cindy says that the two things she wishes she’d done at the start were listing with and paying for a full-fledged, professional appraisal to have a verified asking price. In the end, it was the independent appraisal that kept the deal on track to closing.