Posted in: Buying a home, First time homebuyer tips

How buyers can look past a home's staging to determine its real value

Living room staged with a sofa couch

To bring out a home’s best features, many sellers choose to stage their home. Staging is a process where the homeowner neutralizes their space by painting walls, minimizing large or statement furniture, and removing personal photographs and clutter, in order to appeal to a larger set of buyers.

Although staging can help buyers view the home as a clean slate (rather than someone’s lived-in home), it can also mask important details and small defects.

Here are insights you can use as you tour homes for sale. Now, when you consider making an offer on your dream property, you’ll know it’s the real deal.

Key insights:

  • Look past the staged setup. Imagine the house as you would arrange it.
  • Great style should enhance the space, not just cover it’s imperfections. Be on the lookout for hidden flaws.
  • The more the merrier. Team up with your REALTOR® to assess the home.

Size up the furniture

On your tour, remember that the home is staged to sell and may not be arranged for functional purposes. You’ll want to pay attention to furniture size in each of the main room types.

From a real estate perspective, a sleek mid-century sofa is an aesthetic selling point when compared to a cushy, nap-worthy living room couch. Will your family’s movie night take up more space than the sofa on display?

In the dining room, the listed home may show a four-person table. Will your family of six be able to fit for dinner? Is that space ultra-important to you?

As you enter the bedrooms, pay attention to the size of beds on display. Staged homes commonly use twin beds or cribs in smaller rooms and full-sized beds in medium-sized rooms, in order to make the spaces appear more expansive. To work around this space illusion, consider your furniture and home needs. Will you need a queen bed to fit? Is it important to have a desk or TV stand in your room?

If you’re questioning the livability of a staged home, plan ahead with these steps:

  • Create a master list of must-keep furniture and what rooms your pieces go in.
  • Bring a tape measure to map out your furniture design on-site at the home you are considering.
  • Pictures are valuable. Take photos of the interiors and exteriors of the homes you tour to reference later.

Charming or alarming?

When you purchase a home, you are buying all of it — from top to bottom, that new space will be yours. Don’t be afraid of getting up close and personal with the place to ensure the quality of the condition. The following insights will help you identify what you should look for at an open house.

Get down low

Eye-catching rugs seem to be gorgeous home additions. However, large rugs can hide a variety of defects, large and small.

Be sure to check under rugs for floor damage, warping, stains or other issues that could cost you big bucks to repair in the long run.

Peek behind that beautiful painting

A piece of modern art hung on the wall can add an essence of sophistication to a home. But it can also cover cracks in drywall.

Feel free to carefully look behind paintings, mirrors and other wall arrangements to check the status of the wall.

Cookies — how sweet?

The scent of freshly baked cookies is a nostalgic, delicious aroma that just about everyone can find appealing.

Baking cookies before an open house or showing is a common practice. Although it’s not typical for a seller to cover an existing odor with the cookie baking, be sure to sniff out the possibility of any stenches caused by pets, smoke or mold.

Don’t just look, listen too

All of your senses should be awake when examining a house, including your listening ears. If music is playing, is it simply to create a welcoming atmosphere? Or is the music drowning out the neighbor's son, the budding drummer?

It’s okay to be critical. If noise is a concern for you, you might look up where the nearest highway or airport is located. For some, sounds of planes taking off from the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport will remind them of the possibility to travel; for others, airplane engines may not be the preferred source of white noise.

Follow your instincts and seek professional guidance

Some dents and dings may not affect your ultimate desire to purchase a home. Yet, identifying flaws may help you understand the true value of the home underneath its picture-perfect veneer. By paying attention to the condition of each property, you can try to make a smart, but not too high, offer.

The Edina Realty customer care team can connect you with a Realtor to answer any questions and to provide a helping hand — or eye, or ear.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings