Homes are staged to make the home as attractive as possible to buyers. This can mean different things from simply a good cleaning to de-cluttering rooms to redecorating and what’s called ‘depersonalizing’ the space. Sellers can do this on their own, but the majority of the time it is down with the assistance of a realtor or in some cases a professional decorator or stager.
Staging can help the buyer see the potential of the home as well as visualize themselves in that space. But staging can also distract buyers’ attention from little flaws in the home.
Now technically there is nothing a seller presenting their home in the best light so to speak. But be aware that the smell of baking cookies or the well placed rug may be drawing you in but take note that they may also be drawing your attention away from something you should be aware of.
As you’re viewing the house, try and look past the staging and see the house.
When you view homes for sale that are staged, ask yourself the following questions:
Does the home look too "decorated?" If the home looks more like a show house rather than a lived-in home, it’s more than likely that the home was professionally staged. For example if the furniture doesn’t look used or you don’t see any signs of wear with the vases or other items the home has been staged. In this case sure you look past the decoration and check out the ‘bones’ of the house.
Does the staging make sense? If the furniture is attractively placed around a room, but you know it would be logically hard to function with it placed in that manner, the house has been staged. Furniture can also be oddly placed to avert your attention away from an area that needs repair. An example would be to place heavy furniture over a bad spot in hardwood flooring.
Is the staging hiding a repair that needs to be made? Similar to whether or not the staging makes sense; make sure you pay attention to bathrooms and kitchens. These two rooms can have the most expensive repairs. Check under the sinks, the bath tubs – is the caulk fresh? Is it covering up water damage from a leak? Are there any water stains?
Is the staging overdone? Things like cookies baking or a large amount of candles being lit can be signs that the seller is trying to cover up things like pet odors. Half open or heavy blinds can be covering up damaged windows or a bad view of your neighbors. Open the blinds and check out the windows and the view.
Is the furniture proportionate to the rooms? One thing some people do not think about when viewing a house is the size of the furniture. Using smaller scale – or sometimes called apartment furniture – can make a room appear bigger than it really is. This wouldn’t be cause for a repair, but it may deter a buyer who is looking for more space.
Now if you decide you like the house and want to view it again, ask for some adjustments prior to your second viewing or making an offer. Ask the seller not to bake cookies or use candles. If there was some heavy furniture you couldn’t move but would like to see under ask if they could have that moved as well. Make sure you measure the rooms and spaces to see if your things will fit. And most of all, get a home inspection!