Most people are familiar with home staging. Home staging is successfully used by many real estate agents and is a great tool in helping to sell your home. However, what most people don’t realize is that some sellers will utilize staging to cover up the things they don’t want you to see.
Here are a few home staging cover-ups that should make you stop and pay attention. Not to what is right, but to what might be wrong.
1. Small Room Staging Tactics
It’s common for every home to have at least one small room the homeowner doesn’t quite know what to do with. If you see a room that has small furniture in it, this generally means the seller is using that furniture to trick your eye. This is because small furniture will make a room look bigger than it really is.
2. Scents and Air Fresheners
Many homeowners use scent as a way of making a good first impression of their home. However, some sellers use air fresheners and other scents to intentionally mask any underlying smells in their homes. If you come across a home with an over-abundance of air fresheners, pay close attention to anything your nose might detect other than the air freshener. Do you smell pet odors or pet urine? Do you smell mold or mildew?
Put your nose to the test to sniff out and identify those underlying odors. Then you can address any potential issues before finalizing the contract.
3. Louder Than Normal Music Playing
Oftentimes, music is used to distract buyers from detecting a noise problem. When you hear music while viewing a home, you should turn down the volume and listen. What do you hear? Does the neighbor have a dog that never stops barking? Do you hear an excessive amount of street noise? Are the airplanes flying overhead louder than you would expect? Do you hear dripping or tapping noises inside the walls? Any of these issues could be a deal breaker for some people.
4. Closed Blinds and Window Coverings
If while touring a home you notice all the blinds or window coverings are pulled shut, you should take a minute to open them so you can see what they might be hiding. This is something most people don’t always think to do. However, not doing this could cost you thousands of dollars if problems exist that aren’t discovered before you close on the home.
It may only be a broken windowpane. But it might be that all the window seals are broken, and the windows are fogged so badly you can’t see out of them. Or it might be that the neighbor is a hoarder with trash everywhere and their home is in complete disrepair. It might also be that the neighbor has an auto mechanic shop in their backyard and the seller doesn’t want you to notice that annoying home business in the yard or garage. Closed blinds could mean anything or nothing at all. That’s why it’s important to look through every window and check for potential issues before making an offer on any given home.
5. Closed Doors
Never assume that behind every door is a reasonable space. You should open every door and cabinet as you tour the home. Sometimes closed doors are closed for a reason. Just think how you would feel if you moved into a home only to discover that none of the cabinets have shelves in them. Or that the pantry you so desperately needed was only a few inches deep. Now is not the time to be polite. This is one time you should be nosy if you don’t want to make a purchase you might regret.
6. Area Rugs
Area rugs are sometimes used to cover up carpet or flooring stains, a flaw in the flooring, or maybe even foundation cracks. Therefore, you should lift every area rug and look to see what might be hidden underneath. If you don’t find anything, great! No harm done. However, if you do find something, you can immediately address it with the seller by requesting a repair, replacement, or a lower sale price. Or, you can simply move on and find another home without that type of damage.
7. Missing Doors
Pay attention to each door of the home. Are any of the doors missing? Sometimes the seller will remove a door that doesn’t function properly. A door that doesn’t open and close like it’s supposed to could be a sign of foundation problems, or worse. Alternatively, it might just be that the seller is trying to make the room look larger than it really is. Regardless of the reason, it warrants checking before you finalize the contract.
8. Strategically Placed Pictures and Other Wall Decor
Look behind all the pictures and other wall decor. Are they covering up any holes in the walls? Sellers will sometimes place pictures and other items over flaws or holes in the walls. And in all the excitement, most potential buyers don’t think to check there for hidden damages. The last thing you want after moving into your new home is to have to pay for sheetrock repairs. Not to mention that extensive sheetrock repairs can be expensive.
9. Placemats and Countertop Products
Check all the countertops. Do you see any placemats, products, or other decor that could be an attempt at hiding a flaw? Just as we mentioned above, anything that could potentially be used to cover up damage should be lifted and looked at.
The Bottom Line
Take another look around the home, do you see anything else that could be an attempt to intentionally cover up a flaw? Unfortunately, staging is sometimes used to mask existing problems. Therefore, knowing what to look for when touring a home will help you make a more informed decision about whether that home is right for you. However, if there are some hidden flaws, this will give you the opportunity to address them with the seller before making an offer.
Talk with your real estate agent about helping you identify other potential staging cover-ups that weren’t discussed here. Your real estate agent has the experience to immediately spot staging cover-ups. Cover-ups that could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements, especially if they’re not caught before you purchase the home. Your agent is your best defense when it comes to avoiding problem homes with hidden issues.