Beyond Staging: Things to Look For and Consider When Buying a House

home staging

First impressions are always important, especially when you’re house hunting. A well marketed home can make or break your experience as a potential buyer. Most of us have a hard time seeing past a cluttered property, particularly one with bad decor. On the other hand, it can be easy to fall in love with an immaculate home when the decorator’s tastes align with yours.

Savvy home sellers know to pull out all of the stops to make their houses “show ready” and most appealing to shoppers. Getting a home ready to sell for top dollar can take a lot of effort and planning. Many homeowners will freshen up paint, tackle a punch list and extensively clean to prep their properties for the market. Some take things a step further by staging the home.

96 percent of buyers agents say that staging has an effect on some buyer’s view of a home.

Staging is used to improve the appearance of a house through styling or decorating to appeal to the highest number of buyers. It can be a big process! Light staging involves rearranging furniture to accentuate key features in a home and parse down personal belongings to give the home a clutter-free appearance. Heavy staging efforts can be as involved as bringing in new furniture and decor to give a space an entirely new look.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, it can be a worthwhile effort. Not only can staging make it easier to visualize your future home when you see it in person, but it can also make a listing jump out when viewed online. Ninety-six percent of buyers agents say that staging has an effect on some buyer’s view of a home. In fact, according to REALTORS®, most buyers are willing to offer more money for a staged home compared to a similar non-staged home.

What does this all mean? As a buyer, you need to train yourself to see beyond the staging. Here’s how:

1. Narrow in on a Home’s Details

When a home is staged, you have to be even more diligent about focusing on the details. Whether intentional or not, staging hides defects. You need to pay extra attention to the little things. No, I’m not talking about the cute accent pieces being displayed; I’m talking about the items that are actually affixed to the property. You’ll want to scan the property to assess its condition. Are the floors under the beautiful plush rug scratched? Look beyond the paint colors and hanging pictures — what is the actual material of the wall? Take a peek at the trim and take inventory on the fixtures, craftsmanship and quality. When the home is emptied of all of the beautiful staging pieces, this is what you will be left with. Make sure you are satisfied with what you are actually buying! And, don’t forget about your other senses! Some staging efforts can include lighting candles and playing music. Are these covering up any undesirable sights or sounds?

2. Keep the Big Picture in Mind

As previously mentioned, the devil is certainly in the details. But, you don’t want to lose sight of the big picture either. As always, keep your must-haves in mind. When you fall in love with a home, it can sometimes be hard to think rationally. You’ll want to do a quick sanity check and make sure that the home meets your basic criteria. Talented home stagers know how to make a room pop and position a property to stand out from the pack. They will arrange furniture and decorations in a way that minimizes layout inadequacies or flaws. Run through your checklist and decide if the house is truly going to meet your needs. Always take a video of the home if you have permission from the listing agent or seller so that you can refer back to it later.

3. Consider How Your Furniture Would Look

A key aspect of staging a home is laying out furniture in a way that creates the most ideal flow. Often times, you will find that while it looks nice at first glance, it’s not going to be a practical way for you to live. To make a room look spacious, stagers often opt for minimalism. For example, a compact sofa may create a nice vibe for staging efforts, but what is the living room going to look like with your much-loved, oversized sectional? To help you analyze whether or not a room is actually going to work, you’ll want to take measurements and map out a layout that makes sense with your furniture.

Hey, is that Staging Included?

If everything checks out, you may be interested in purchasing the house AND the staging. Sometimes furniture pieces can be negotiated along with the sale. If the furniture is rented, you can ask to be connected with the stager and have them work their magic as soon as you take ownership. At a minimum, make sure to take tons of pictures to help you with inspiration.