Mark down the markup
Along those same lines, it's not uncommon for salespeople to mark up a product well above the market price, just so they can create a false impression of a deal when they come down on the price. Reed says that he often saw this in the dealership, where it was used as a hedge against people who could come in trying to haggle the price.

"They'll say, 'Here's the sticker price, but it has a thousand-dollar incentive,' so they create a sense that they negotiated with themselves," he explains. "It's like the grocery store business -- they raise the price but then put it on sale, and people just see the sale."

The key here is to shop around. Just because a salesperson or store advertises something as 30% off doesn't mean that it's 30% cheaper than you can find it anywhere else. Usually that 30% figure refers to the discount off the manufacturer's suggested retail price, which few retailers are actually asking for.

It's not uncommon for furniture stores to take a centerpiece item -- say, a bed -- and surround it with all the accessories you might find in a real bedroom. While that's an understandable strategy for allowing people to visualize how it will look once the room is completed, it also serves to enhance the core product via ancillary products that aren't included in the price.

"I go to a furniture store that displays their furniture with the most outrageously expensive accessories," Gault says. "The couches are kind of middle-of-the-road price range, but they put on a $300 throw pillow. You walk into a store and every piece looks gorgeous because it's surrounded by things that you're not going to buy."

She recommends clearing some of the accessories out so you can consider the piece on its own. You might even consider bringing in your own accessories from home to see how it will look in a more realistic (and affordable) context.

Make a house feel like a home
Most people have heard the old realtor trick of baking a batch of cookies in a home before an open house, which is intended to make it feel like a warm, welcoming home. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Realtors will also try to improve the vibe of a house by wetting the grass to make it shine, putting on mood music and turning on all the lights to illuminate all the available space. For more real estate secrets, check out this look at common open house tricks.

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