Buyers want perfection and comfort, says John B. Badalamenti, an associate broker at Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors in Wayne, Pa.

As a result of the staging craze, buyers have become a bit spoiled, Badalamenti told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Homes are almost being put on the market as museum pieces. You can bounce a dime off a bed.

Echoing those comments, Cheryl Miller of Long & Foster Real Estate in Blue Bell, Pa., says gone are the days when buyers were willing to settle for anything. The Wizard of Oz has had the curtain pulled back.

Staging has become increasingly important, particularly for hard-to-sell homes, real estate pros say.

As for sellers who have put off essential home maintenance, they may want to think twice before putting their home up on the market yet. It's a death sentence for a listing these days, Badalamenti says. Things like nail pops and settlement cracks, while often easily repaired, are not being tolerated.

Buyers often are eyeing home inspections carefully too. Harris Gross of Engineers for Inspection in Cherry Hill says that in home inspections buyers seem most concerned about water leaks from plumbing or roofing repairs, as well as any structural issue problems. Termite damage and radon are also big concerns. He says that about 50 percent of his clients tested positive for radon last year.

Source: Setting the Stage for House-Buying Season, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Jan. 24, 2011)