Home staging, the practice of redecorating a home for sale, can help show off a house’s potential to potential buyers and facilitate a faster sale at a higher price. The overwhelming majority of professional home stagers are honest and talented interior decorators. Nevertheless, like any industry, the home staging world has its share of unethical practitioners. If you’re in the homebuying market, keep an eye out for these problem-concealing strategies at open houses.

Rugs concealing stains
Some unscrupulous home stagers will place rugs in locatons where the floor has been stained or damaged. As a potential homebuyer, don’t be afraid to check underneath rugs, especially those small rugs in front of bathroom sinks, which often cover up tile discoloration or chipped grout.

Oversized curtains
By placing enormous drapes on a small window, deceitful stagers can make a window feel bigger. Be sure to open and close all the windows in the home, not only to make sure they work properly, but also to get a feel for the actual window size. Also, it’s a good idea to examine the home both during the day and at night, as this will give you a better sense of the home’s actual lighting and ambiance.

Undersized furniture
When you’re walking through a room, take a close look at the size of the furniture. If it seems too small, the stager could be manipulating the space. For example, do you see a love seat where you’d expect to find a couch? Is there a twin bed in the master bedroom? A disproportionally small coffee table in the living room? In addition to checking for undersized furnishings, you should be thinking about the size of your own furniture and how it would fit in the space as well.

Conveniently placed pictures
Unfortunately, some stagers will use artwork to conceal damaged walls. Again, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to sneak a peek behind that Monet.

In addition to being on the lookout for deceptive practices, you can confirm that the realtor and/or stager behind the home is affiliated with a reputable organization, such as the Real Estate Staging Association. Also, feel free to ask the stagers directly if there are any defects or home maintenance issues that you should know about.