Learn How to Spot a Home’s Disguised Flaws
Home staging is an important part of the selling process, but it should be about highlighting what a home has to offer, not hiding clear flaws.
When you’re out house hunting, it’s easy to get swept up in beautiful photos, finishes, and furniture. We start to imagine ourselves living in a home, and the way rooms are set up and decorated can make us overlook things that might otherwise stand out.
What is Home Staging, Exactly?
Home staging is when a seller and/or agent hire a professional person to create a pleasant ambiance by adding, replacing, or removing furniture and props to make a home look more attractive to buyers.
First impressions matter a lot and the right staging can help shape a buyer’s focus and get them thinking about living in the home themselves.
Now, this isn’t to say that home staging is bad—far from it, the best home staging services try to limit distractions and will even remove furniture to give potential buyers a better sense of the space, free of bias from how the current owner uses a room.
But there are times where it’s worthwhile to look a little closer so you get a more accurate sense of any renovations, work, or potential issues a home might have.
Common Home Staging Tricks (And Why They’re Used)
We’ve put together details about some common home staging tricks and how you can spot them and identify what they’re being used for. Let’s get started!
Photos on an online real estate listing are one of the first impressions you’ll get of a home. It’s not uncommon to use a wide-angle lens when taking these photos, as they help make smaller rooms seem more spacious and comfortable.
It’s actually pretty amazing how changing the lens of a camera can affect the finished shots! Wide-angle lenses, shot low, can make cozy rooms feel expansive. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, as listings usually highlight room sizes, too, but it can lead to some disappointment when you visit in person.
It’s not outright deceptive, but it can cause some frustration. Remember, take everything with a grain of salt!
Furniture is the ultimate home staging feature. The selection and placement of furniture in a room can make things seem larger or draw attention away from other features that might otherwise stand out.
Again, staging a home for viewings is incredibly common, so you shouldn’t be too surprised at this. Still, it can alter how you perceive a room, so it’s worthwhile to know what to look for.
Common staging tricks include:
- Using small pieces of furniture to give small rooms a spacious feel
- Using less furniture and placing it in the room’s center
- Placing area rugs over scratched, discoloured, or damaged floors
- Hanging mirrors to give the illusion of a large, airy space
The best way to get beyond this is to ask questions. Bring up the flooring if you have concerns. Discuss the square footage and options for renovation. Ask about the age and quality of the windows. You shouldn’t go poking around someone’s home when you’re viewing it, but you’re there to get more information and see things for yourself.
While most sellers are probably motivated to sell and understand the value they get by fixing up their current property. New renovations and repairs add value to a home, after all.
But some sellers are simply trying to save money, and some won’t put in as much effort as others. In some cases, you might run into quick fixes for common problems or issues, including:
- New hardware and fittings on old cabinets and drawers offers an immediate visual upgrade without having to upgrade old cabinetry
- A quick coat of paint can hide issues with walls, as can hanging art
- Strong scented candles or plug-ins to hide dampness or other unappealing odors
- Adding stainless-steel adhesive over black, almond, or white appliances (generally considered to be a big no-no, but sometimes it happens)
Closed blinds and curtains can be a red flag, hiding old windows. Most sellers typically want to highlight the natural light of a space, as most buyers want an open, bright, and airy home.
Another popular trick is to use attractive furniture, mirrors, or other accessories to draw the eye to these items rather than things like floors, walls, windows, moulding, or other structural parts of the home.
House Hunting Etiquette
After all that, you might be thinking that every seller is trying to pull the wool over your eyes and that you need to thoroughly investigate a home before you buy.
Remember, even if you’re thinking about buying, it’s still someone else’s home. You can’t go rummaging around looking for issues.
You also need to remember that home staging isn’t meant to hide problems from you, but rather to put a home’s best foot forward. A lot of what we’ve discussed so far is meant to help you make an unbiased assessment of a home.
Plus, there’s an etiquette to viewings and house hunting:
- Leave the Starbucks in the car! You don’t want to spill anything in someone else’s home, after all. If a real estate agent offers you water, go for it, but respect that this is someone’s home. You’re a guest.
- Don’t go poking around in closets. Ask the realtor what sort of closets they have and if you could see one.
- If you’ve got to use the washroom, ask first. This is another reason why it’s worth avoiding food and drink while you house hunt—it’s an awkward conversation to have!
- As tempting as it is to take photos for your own reference, ask first. It probably won’t ever be an issue, but again, it’s still someone else’s home.
- Avoid sitting on any furniture; if you really need to sit, ask first—you’re there to check out the home, not test furniture.
At the end of the day, though, your viewing isn’t the final word on a home. You’re getting a sense of things and seeing it in person so you can imagine your life in the home. Leave the inspection to the professionals when you make an offer; don’t go poking around on your own, as it’s bad form.
Get Pre-Approved to Get the Home You Want When You Find It
So you’ve seen a few homes, have a good sense of what you’re looking for, and found one that just grabs you. Fantastic! Are you pre-approved for a mortgage?
One of the first things you’ll want to do in your hunt for a new home is to get pre-approved. This is important for a couple of reasons:
- You aren’t wasting valuable time looking at homes out of your price range
- You’re in a position to quickly put in an offer if you do find your dream home
If a lender hasn’t qualified you for a home mortgage loan, you could lose out on your dream home to another buyer who did take this step. Mortgage brokers can help buyers find the best rates and set you up so you’re able to buy the home of your dreams when you find it.
If there’s one takeaway from this blog you should focus on, it’s that home staging isn’t a way to pull a fast one. It’s a common practice—but you should still be aware of it, if only to help you see past things to find the true potential in a home.
Chris Allard’s experience in the field means he can get you offers with over 50 financial institutions lending in Ottawa. Every lender has many mortgage products they offer, which means Chris and his team will make sure a mortgage caters to your needs while also ensuring you get a competitive rate. Chris Allard is a proud mortgage broker of Smart Debt Mortgages, independently owned and operated. Smart Debt broker #12236.