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Watch Out for These Home-Selling Tricks

If you're a home seller, you've probably studied the little tricks that attract buyers, like painting the door the dog scratched and putting down a new "welcome" mat.

But if you're a prospective buyer, it's not a bad idea to pay attention to the things home sellers and agents do to make a house look better.

"It's not about keeping problems from buyers; there are laws that say sellers have to disclose issues with the house," says Doug Robinson, a real estate agent in the Chicago area. "But if I can highlight a home's best features when you come see it, I'm doing my job."

Here are seven techniques you may see while home shopping:

Lights turned on: It's one of the oldest real estate tricks in the book: Turn on all the lights in a home so visitors can see the available space. Keeping a home lit can also help hide a room that's perennially dark. As you inspect each room, turn the lights off briefly to look for natural light. Your eyes may need to adjust for a few moments to get a clear picture of the lighting.

Cookie mania: The owner or realtor might leave a plate of homemade cookies. This is, of course, a thank you for checking out the home, but there's also a subtler message. Comfort foods like chocolate chip cookies can make you feel at home as you look around. Partake, but remember: You're being bribed.

Less furniture for more space: If the carpeted den or living room looks nice and spacious, walk around and check for furniture indentations. A chair or couch might have been moved to the garage or basement to give the appearance of extra space. Keep that in mind when you're picturing how your furniture would fit.
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