Beware of These Big Turnoffs For Homebuyers

  • Curb appeal is your home’s first impression. Consider freshening up the paint job and cleaning up the landscaping. A little TLC can go a long way.
  • Not only should your electrical work be up to building code, but it should also be organized and easy to decipher.

Face it: Your house may have some icky issues. And if you don’t address them, you’ll have fewer showings and get fewer offers.

Here are the 20 biggest buyer turnoffs and how to avoid them.

1. The place looks hideous from the street

Issue: You’ve driven by the front of your house so many times that you barely take notice. And unfortunately, once you decide to sell, most of your focus will be on the interior, not the exterior.

Solution: Improve your curb appeal. Mow like you mean it, do some landscaping or at least pull your weeds, and buff up that door!

2. Your decor could make buyers scream

Issue: To cast the broadest possible net for buyers, it’s smart to strike wall displays, posters and other visuals that could offend. That might mean anything from a nude sculpture to a banner celebrating your favorite NFL team. A Hillary Clinton bobblehead is as much of a danger as a signed, showcased copy of “The Art of the Deal.” 

Solution: Keep it neutral and upbeat or delete. And if you’re going to hang pictures on the walls, make sure they’re hung straight!

3. Your home has dings, cracks and defects

Issue: As a homeowner, you’ve lived with a number of household flaws and mechanical nuisances so long that you no longer notice them. Unfortunately, prospective buyers will.

Solution: Fix them. Now. Ask your Realtor for a list of Preferred Vendors—they probably have a handyman that they recommend.

4. That wall-to-wall carpeting has got to go

Issue: Depending on your locale, wall-to-wall carpeting can vary from being a mere annoyance to a deal breaker. Not only can it be outdated, it can also harbor a lot of unpleasant odors.

Solution: If your carpets are coving up beautiful hardwood floors, rip it up and show them off! Roll the dice but be prepared to compromise on price.

5. To be honest, your place might stink

Issue: As visual as the house-hunting experience tends to be, there’s another overriding sensation that can literally stop a walk-through at the front door. Pet owners and smokers should be especially wary of this. 

Solution: Ask a friend for their honest opinion if you think you’ve become used to your home’s “aroma”. Cleaning carpets goes a long way to freshening up your home, but candles and discrete air fresheners are a good thing to have on hand, as well. Oh­— and don’t cook fish the night before a showing!

6. That popcorn ceiling looks so last century

Issue: Once hot, popcorn acoustic ceilings now are not. Mostly because they’re a major hassle to repair.

Solution: Prepare to bargain, or not. After all, it didn’t stop you from buying, right?

7. That’s not a color scheme, it’s a conspiracy

Issue: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Know upfront that the wallpaper you love and that Candy Crush-themed children’s bedroom will not help sell your home.

You’re not doing your home any favors by painting your walls with dark colors. It can make rooms feel smaller and more dated. Older homes really suffer when a paint has any gloss to it. You’ll highlight every flaw in your walls, no matter what color you choose.

Solution: Neutralize your home. Gray tones are nice. And select an eggshell or matte finish.

8. You and your renters need to scram

Issue: The absolute worst are sellers who insist on hovering. Renters are just as bad, if not worse. 

Solution: Any Realtor worth their salt will insist that you and your renters be absent for all showings and inspections. Take your pets with you, and instruct your renters to do the same.

9. The photos are too good to be true

Issue: House-hunting online at, Redfin, Trulia, Zillow and related sites will quickly school you in the not-so-subtle art of real estate photography.

It’s one thing to use Photoshop® to brighten up a photo if it was a cloudy day. It becomes a problem when you’re erasing cracks in the walls or stains on the floor. To be blunt—it’s lying.

Solution: Don’t set your listing up for failure by misrepresenting it in photos.

10. You have bad photos -- or no photos

Issue: Even worse than photos that try too hard are bad pictures that don’t put your home in the best possible light.

Realtors say they’ve seen listings showing a dumpster parked in front of the house, or the hardwood floors obscured by piles of laundry. Allegedly, one home was put on the market with a photo of the family dog “fertilizing” the front lawn.

The only bigger deal breaker than poor images is to list your home with no pictures at all. Buyers will assume the house has serious issues and will keep moving.

Solution: Once your home is officially up for sale, check the pics on the major real estate sites. If you don’t like what you see, ask your agent to take new photos.

11. It looks like a home on ‘Hoarders’

Issue: Clutter can become a major obstacle to living in, much less selling, a home. A cluttered house instills far deeper fears in many homebuyers than where to pile the laundry. Plus, it’s hard for them to really see the home when the view is obstructed by your stuff, so they’ll most likely pass on your property.

Solution: Thoroughly clean and declutter the manse before showing.

12. The driveway is crowded

Issue: The outside of your home also can look too cluttered. Having too many cars in the driveway makes a bad impression on prospective buyers, especially if the vehicles are old and beat up.

The less crowded the place looks, both inside and out, the more buyers will be able to imagine how the property will look with their stuff around.

Solution: When your home is being shown, go for a drive — and park your other cars down the block.

13. The floors are flawed

Issue: Homebuyers need look no further than the flooring beneath their feet to get a quick read on the workmanship (or lack thereof) in a listing.

Poorly installed ceramic tile, hardwood flooring badly butted up to door jambs or base molding, and misaligned or warped laminate will send up a huge caution flag for buyers. They may feel they’re being tricked into buying a fixer-upper.

Solution: Take a close look around your home at ground level, and give some attention to whatever looks or feels off down there.

14. The kitchen seems make-do, not modern

Issue: Statistically, tricked-out kitchens drive home sales. But when potential buyers notice that shortcuts have been taken, it’s just human nature to wonder what shortcomings might be hiding under the sink.

Solution: If you’re going to redo the kitchen before you sell, don’t go halfway.

15. The home’s electrical work is shockingly bad

Issue: When buyers on a home showing detect electrical abnormalities — a light switch activates nothing, or a grounded outlet shuts down without cause — their immediate instinct is to question the safety of the entire electrical system.

Solution: Leave the electrical work to the pros. If you tried to DIY, ask a professional to take a look.

16. You’re stubborn about your price

Issue: Buyers don’t like a seller who won’t budge. When an offer seems too lowball for you, don’t just dismiss it out of hand. The buyer may be willing to negotiate and so should you.

Solution: Be flexible, and don’t let your feathers be ruffled by any offer. The buyer may seriously want the house.

Use our calculator to find out how much home you can afford next time you’re ready to buy.

17. There’s no space for outdoor entertaining

Issue: If you don’t have much of a patio and haven’t done much with your yard, you can lose major points with buyers. Today, many people think of outdoor areas as an extension of the living room.

Solution: If your yard is a yawn, a couple of pieces of outdoor furniture and a little bit of lighting might make a big difference.

18. Safety extras seem shaky

Issue: If your home has safety features such as grab bars and power lifts, by all means make sure they work properly and are built and installed to code. It’s got to be safe, because you’re liable for at least a year for the safety of the people living in the home after you finish it.

Solution: Always make sure safety features are sound, even if no codes apply.

19. The price is too high

Issue: No matter how amazing you think your home is, if it’s pricey compared to the other houses in the neighborhood, buyers won’t bite.

Solution: If your real estate agent is telling you that your desired price is unrealistic, listen! And depending on the market, you may consider listing at a low price in hopes buyers will get excited and wage a bidding war.

20. It’s not the house, it’s the ‘hood

Issue: All the remodeling you do on the interior or all the you work you do to enhance the exterior’s curb appeal may not matter if your neighborhood is a no-go for homebuyers.

Solution: If your area has seen better days, you may need to cut your price substantially — or to try to rent your place out until your market comes back.

Parts of this article is borrowed from an article by Jay McDonald on The full article can be found here: