5 ways to see beyond the charm of home staging

Kurt Jacobson has a background in real estate and writes about houses for rent for RentFinder.co. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences and is more than equipped to discuss the potential pitfalls involved in home staging…

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Home staging involves preparing and presenting a home to attract a wider buying audience and sell it faster at the highest possible price. Staging is profitable for the seller but it can land the buyer in serious trouble if the issues camouflaged by staging are of a severe nature and require extensive repairs and expenses. If you are planning to buy a home, you must be able to imagine yourself and your belongings in the property before you consider making an offer. It’s also worth perusing our list of tips to arm you with the knowledge you need to avoid missing critical details of a home’s condition that some stagers may be attempting to cover up.

Ask for floor plans and bring out the tape

Sellers often replace the heavy, space-guzzling furniture with sleek, compact ones to create an illusion of space. The best way to find out what floor space is actually available is to physically measure the walls, end-to-end. Ask for the original floor plan. It shows the true layout and size of the home, down to the inch. It also shows you the things you can and cannot change, such as supporting walls. Seeing the floor plan can also help you determine the expenses you would incur if you were to change the layout of an area. If the floor plan isn’t available the day you’re looking at it, all you need is a tape measure and a notebook to record your observations.

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Look for visible signs of damage in crucial places

Staging is performed not only to create a spacious look but in some cases, to hide major issues. It may not even aim to directly hide issues but by creating pleasant spaces that go ‘wow!’, your focus will be diverted away from the furnace, plumbing lines, sewer lines and other important areas. Poor maintenance of these home facilities can often lead to major breakdown. Make a note of visible signs of damage in these areas and ensure that a detailed inspection is carried out by a Professional Home Inspector before you make any commitment.

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Is the renovation for real?

Has the house that you are planning to buy been recently renovated? Is the owner not able to provide details or a satisfactory explanation for the reasons why they were done? Have the quality of renovations checked out by a trusted local contractor who can stop in and evaluate the work. It could be an attempt to hide external leakages or defects in the structure, drywall, or plaster. However, if the renovation job was an honest attempt at setting things right, then the owner would have ensured a high quality of work and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

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Visit at different times of the day

Visiting the property at different times of the day can give you a better picture of the house that you plan to make your home. You may notice that a room which seemed bright during the day doesn’t have overhead lighting and at night feels dark and uninviting.

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An unusually pleasant smelling home

Is there an unduly pleasant scent in a concrete-floored basement that feels musty and dank? One of the most common issues in a house is overly damp areas that pose a hazard for mould to develop. Look for telltale signs of moisture such as water stains or discoloration along the flooring or walls, pealed paint or concrete sealants, visible mould or mildew and a musty smell. It’s also common for pet odours to be covered up with a fresh scent. Watch for carpet stains even under furniture and also ask the listing agent if the previous owners had pets.

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By keeping these small tips in mind during your home search, you can avoid being misled by home staging. Remember, not all staging is designed to deceive as the basic premise of staging is to make the home presentable. However, buyers ought to be aware and look around homes with a keen eye to ensure that serious defects are not being passed off as minor issues.

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