Some sellers get sidetracked in their effort to attract buyers, especially in a market that no longer decidedly favors sellers. For instance, some sellers think the best way to attract buyers to their home is to offer an incentive to the buyer’s real estate agent, such as a trip somewhere at closing. Although, an agent perk might result in a showing or two, it’s unlikely to affect a buyer’s decision to buy.

It would make more sense to provide an incentive to buyers. That is, if incentives work. However, the promise of a free trip stands little chance of convincing today’s value-conscious buyers that they should buy your home. When builders have trouble moving a new product, they offer meaningful incentives, such as upgraded finishes or landscaping, which actually add value to the property.

Don’t offer gimmicks; instead, correct defects — cosmetic and structural — and price the property right. The biggest incentive you can give a buyer is a well-prepared home that’s listed for a realistic price. The listings that are selling in today’s market are priced right for the market, they look good and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the property is available.

Selecting a listing agent who understands how to sell homes like yours in this market is one of the keys to distinguishing your listing from the others. A good agent will speak candidly with you about the probable selling price of your home. An experienced agent will also be able to advise you about what work is worthwhile to do to your home prior to marketing.

Before you even begin preparing your home for sale, it’s a good idea to consult with your agent to make sure that the improvements you have in mind are worthwhile. Good agents are in tune with home-buyer preferences such as paint colors, lighting fixtures and floor coverings. Your agent can put you in touch with home stagers and designers who can help you select the right colors and floors.

Good merchandising is critical to a successful home sale, particularly when there are many listings on the market. Before you sign a listing, make sure that your agent will provide you a marketing campaign that will attract as many buyers as possible to your home.

Exposure is essential. You want an agent who will provide your home with extensive exposure to the local and broader markets, and who will also pay close attention to the quality of exposure your home receives.

HOME SELLER TIP: Internet advertising has revolutionized the way the residential real estate is sold. So, it’s important that your agent’s marketing plan include broad internet exposure. At a minimum, your home should be listed, with photos, on www.realtor.com, the largest residential real estate Web site.

Recent studies show that 80 percent of home buyers use the Internet during the course of their home purchase. Studies also show that buyers reject a listing if it doesn’t have photos because they think there must be something wrong with it.

Not only do you need photos of your home on the Internet, but they need to be good photos. Home buyers who have limited time screen the inventory of homes for sale online and eliminate listings based on the photos. Make sure that your agent provides good-quality photos of your property.

Avoid the temptation to oversell your property. A buyer who was recently looking for a luxury home complained that the photos of many listings she’d seen were so good that she was often disappointed when she saw the properties in person.

THE CLOSING: The advertising and the photos of your home should accurately portray your property.

Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.

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