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5 Ways to Examine a Staged Home

June 5, 2015 | By

As a new buyer, you’re likely to enter homes in all sorts of condition — from the unkempt to the downright unlivable. That makes those “jewels,” homes in immaculate condition and beautifully furnished, really stand out. It’s almost like you want to envision your art on the walls, and curling up on that couch with a good book.

That’s the intent. “While not all staging is trickery, because the basic premise of staging is to make the home look presentable, buyers need to look past (the staging) and get serious,” Karlton Utter, director of learning technologies and solutions for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, tells Bankrate.com.

In a recent Bankrate.com article, Utter and other real estate experts shared their tips on how a buyer should “toss the seller’s script and perceive the real house.”

  1. Evaluate the floor plan. There are a lot of elements you can change in a home, but the floor plan is pretty set in stone, so to speak. “Buyers should be careful to look at what they cannot change in a home or what would be very expensive to change,” advises Brandon Green, a broker and president of the Brandon Green Cos., an affiliate of Keller Williams Realty in Washington, D.C. For example, he says, a great kitchen is always appealing, but if it is located in the center of the home and the buyer prefers a front kitchen, “that would be almost impossible to change.”
  2. Imagine your furniture in the rooms. Sellers may be encouraged to store their own larger furniture items while the home is being shown and replace them with smaller pieces to make the rooms seem larger. “Think about where you will keep your suitcases if you travel a lot, where you will store your bike or your kid’s sports equipment,” Green suggests.
  3. Evaluate the condition. It’s easy to be thrown off by a lovely throw rug or wall mural, but “look beyond the paint” to check for indications of past damage like water marks, including those hidden under carpets or behind boxes in closets, Green advises. Also pay attention to the general property condition. Is the home well-maintained, or just well-staged? “If the air filter is a disaster, that could be an indicator that the owners have deferred maintenance on the property,” Green says.
  4. Look for quality. Jonna Morton, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Rockwall, east of Dallas, advises buyers to look at the quality of the kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and wood trim. “A home that has been solidly built may be a better buy even if it is older, because a cheaply built home will need more work,” says Morton.
  5. Try the sniff test. Green says a musty smell in the home could indicate moisture problems, but even good scents should be a red flag to potential buyers. “The overuse of air fresheners can mean that the owners are covering up a bad smell from a damp basement or a dirty fireplace,” notes Green.

Everyone enjoys walking through a lovely home, which can give us ideas for rearranging or redecorating with our own furniture. What’s really important for your future is the floor plan, the size of the rooms, the quality of the building, and how well the home’s been maintained. If you’re seriously thinking about buying a home, take your measuring tape, notepad, and flashlight along on home tours and take your time to check out the nooks and crannies before making an offer, advises Green.

Source: Buying a Home, Look Past the Staging, by Michele Lerner, updated on Bankrate.com May 7, 2015.

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