People who sell houses want to get the most money they can out of them, and rightly so, and many will employ crafty staging techniques to make those houses look as beautiful as they can.</br></br>Your job as a prospective homebuyer is to be able to pierce the veil, so to speak, and see the true value underneath all the glitz and glitter. This probably sounds like common sense, but it may be trickier than you realize.</br></br>Here are some things to keep in mind:</br></br><strong>1. Landscaping Landmines </strong></br></br>It’s summertime and the landscaping is absolutely <em>gorgeous</em>. In fact, it’s downright Victorian lusciousness; sculpted shrubs, blooming hydrangeas and no-kidding willow trees swaying in the breeze in the backyard.</br></br>And, do you know how much it costs to keep it looking that way? Unfortunately, those expenses aren’t included in the selling price, but you can find out how much the upkeep will cost in any neighborhood by <a title="Find Local Landscapers" href="http://porch.com/local/landscapers?tid=social_atgstores_~~_~~_~~_~~_~~_~~_~~_~~_~~_~~" target="_blank">consulting with local landscapers via Porch.com</a>.</br></br><strong>2. Seasonal Subterfuge</strong></br></br>Okay, it’s still summertime, and you love, love, <em>love</em> the long, winding driveway that leads to the property. The tree-lined lane reminds you of every romantic movie you’ve ever seen, and the only thing that could make it better was if you were in a horse-drawn carriage …</br></br>… and if you knew how to drive a tractor with a plow, because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get in and out once it starts snowing.</br></br><strong>3. Hot Tub Flub</strong></br></br>“Yes, a hot tub! I can’t wait have a hot tub party! Woo hoo!”</br></br>These are often famous last words. You’re never required to be impressed by a <a title="Hot Tubs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/sports/sporting-goods/water-recreation/pools-hot-tubs-saunas/hot-tubs/" target="_blank">hot tub</a>. If you don't choose the right one, a hot tub in a home can end up being the equivalent of a speedboat in your driveway: You might have fun in it from time to time, but it’s going to cost you a lot more than what it’s worth in the long run.</br></br><strong>4. Pool Foolery</strong></br></br>Oooooh, look at the pool! The water is <em>soooooo</em> blue! And the deck and the pavers positively sparkle in the warm afternoon sun. It’s too easy to imagine your kids – your entire extended family – thanking you profusely for providing this glittering, refreshing gem of entertainment for their summertime enjoyment.</br></br>Take another look at that <a title="Pools" href="http://www.atgstores.com/sports/sporting-goods/water-recreation/pools-hot-tubs-saunas/pools/" target="_blank">pool</a>. Dollars to donuts says that the last time it looked that good was when it was installed, and it will never look that good again – that is, until you’re ready to sell.</br></br><strong>5. Window Shopping</strong></br></br>You’ve just found your dream house, and it has a lot of windows; east-facing windows for sunrise, and west-facing windows for sunset. It’s got windows in the front, windows in the back and windows in the kitchen to enjoy with a snack. Windows, window, windows!</br></br>Windows are great, but only if they’re in great shape. If they are, that means the only thing you’ll need to worry about is <a title="How Often Should I Clean X? " href="http://www.atgstores.com/ourblog/How-Often-Should-I-Clean-X" target="_blank">cleaning them</a> – which is a lot of work. And, if they’re not in great shape, you’re looking at sky-high heating and cooling bills, and maybe even replacement costs.</br></br>Tune in tomorrow to read up on staging gimmicks vs. real home value on the inside of the next house you view.