Image by Gibsonff
Not so long ago, there were some local mortgage brokers out there that thought it was a great idea to stage homes for the purpose of appraisals. I know because some of them contacted me and asked for staging proposals. Although they may not have identified the purpose of their call up front, it was pretty easy to discover they were not looking for a normal home staging project after just a few routine questions. It was even easier to eliminate them as potential clients. There is a big difference between making a house look its best for market and trying to pretend a vacant home is occupied.
It is not uncommon for an agent to call to gather staging information for a property. Some lenders act as the agent and of course they could be the homeowner as well, so there are times when a mortgage broker might call for information. But when the conversation turns to “the staging only needs to be there for a couple days; just long enough for photos to be taken” and “it needs to look like somebody lives there, the appraiser will be coming by” that the red flags come up and the question begs to be asked, “is this vacant property being staged for sale or staged for an appraisal on a refinance?”
Is that a can or worms or what? Worse? I think so.
Staging should not be about pretending a vacant property is occupied. Staging is and always should be about showcasing the best features in a home while demonstrating to buyers the home’s highest and best use of the property and the quality of life living in the home offers. With all the problems resulting from the current mortgage crisis, I have to wonder; how widespread was this practice and how much impact could these refinance scams have contributed to the current problem?