In recent years it has become well known that many South Bay real estate professionals will advise a homeowner to use a home staging person to dress up a home and make it more appealing for any potential buyers. These staging techniques have become popular and are successful in many cases. The stagers will rearrange furniture to make rooms look bigger and bake cookies to fill the air with a homey aroma, and use other tactics to make the house look like something that it isn’t. Smart homebuyers, however, should look beyond these techniques and look at the house from a realistic standpoint. The basic premise of staging is to make the house more presentable, but potential buyers must look beyond that and get serious because this may be the biggest investment they will ever make. Buyers must be able to uncover the real house behind the staging. Here are a few tips:
FLOOR PLAN: Is this the plan you like and does the layout of the house fit your plans? An example: If the kitchen is a little small, can you remodel it later, or is it in the center of the house and impossible to remodel? If the children’s bedroom is located in an area too far from the master suite would you be able to hear them, or get to them in an emergency? Many buyers want a big house with many rooms, but can they afford to furnish all of the rooms? Buyers also need to think about the cost of utilities and maintenance on a larger home. If the land parcel is excessive, can you afford the yard maintenance costs? Stagers and builders will often remove interior doors to make the home seem airy and open during open houses. When the doors are put back in place, the rooms will seem smaller and closed in. A buyer must consider all of the furniture and possessions they have and decide whether it will all fit or not.
CHECK OUT LITTLE DETAILS: Buyers must check out the little details that most people overlook. Check the furnace air filter. Is it a mess, clogged? This could be an indicator that the sellers have not done too much routine maintenance on the home. Buyers should check under the sinks to look for water marks from old leaks and make a list of things to have a home inspector check out more thoroughly. They should move furniture and rugs and check underneath for any damages or water stains. Do not be afraid to move things around and to ask questions that you might think embarrassing to the sellers. Are the doors solid or hollow core? What you find may indicate what type of materials the sellers have used throughout the house. What is the quality of the kitchen cabinets, bath cabinets, vanities and trim? Are the light fixtures old? What about the wiring in the house?
CHECK WINDOWS AND LIGHTING: This is something that most buyers never do. They should come back at different times of the day, and night, to see how much light there is coming in through all windows, and does the house have good lighting at night. Many houses do not have overhead lighting in each room. Buyers should open and close every window to be sure they work. Buyers also should check on the view and the size of the window. Home stagers will sometimes place large curtains over a small basement window to make buyers think the window is bigger.
OTHER LITTLE DETAILS TO CHECK: Is there a musty odor in the house, or is there only the smell of room fresheners? This could indicate a mold or mildew problem which could cost a lot of money later on to fix. If the house has a fireplace, it might need cleaning. If it has a basement, it might have a moisture problem casing the odor smell.
GO TO OPEN HOUSES PREPARED TO GET THE FACTS: When potential home buyers go to look at a home, they should be prepared to ask questions and write down what they find on each place they see. Buyers should always take a notebook, tape measure, flashlight and a camera on all house hunting trips. If you travel, where will you put all of those suitcases you have, or where will you store your bike?Where will you keep all of your children’s sports equipment?
Buyers should recognize that they don’t have to do any of these things unless they really like a certain house and are seriously considering making an offer, and they also should go back and check the house several times and check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and night for traffic, noise, neighbors parties, etc.