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The Five Biggest Turn-Offs For Homebuyers

Written by on Sunday, 30 March 2014 3:20 pm
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A lot of sellers don't listen to their real estate agents, so we'll tell you what your agent wants to say, but can't say to you and this is it - your agent can't get you the price you want unless your home is in pristine move-in condition.

That means no sticking drawers in the kitchen. No leaning fences. No rust-stained plumbing fixtures. We could go on, but maybe we need to make it clear. If you have even one of following "turn-offs," your home won't sell.

Buyers can get instantly turned off. Here are their five biggest turn-offs:

1. Overpricing for the market

2. Smells

3. Clutter

4. Deferred maintenance

5. Dark, dated décor

Overpricing your home

Overpricing your home is like trying to crash the country club without a membership. You'll be found out and escorted out.

If you ignored your agent's advice and listed at a higher price than recommended, you're going to get some negative feedback from buyers. The worst feedback, of course, is silence. That could include no showings and no offers.

The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home won't see it because they're shopping in a lower price range. The buyers who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.


Smells can come from a number of sources - pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more. You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done.

There's not a buyer in the world that will buy a home that smells unless they're investors looking for a bargain. Even so, they'll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells. If they find anything like undisclosed water damage, or pet urine under the "new" carpet, then they will either severely discount their offer or walk away.


If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, buyers' attention is going to more focused on running the gauntlet of your living room without breaking any Hummels than in considering your home for purchase.

Too much furniture confuses the eye - it makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of rooms. If they can't see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

Deferred maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart. Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home. Things wear out, break and weather, and it's your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.

Your buyers really want a home that's been well-maintained. They don't want to wonder what needs to fixed next or how much it will cost.

Dated décor

The reason people are looking at your home instead of buying brand new is because of cost and location. They want your neighborhood, but that doesn't mean they want a dated-looking home. Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it's from a different era.

Harvest gold and avocado green from the seventies; soft blues and mauves from the eighties, jewel tones from the nineties, and onyx and pewter from the oughts are all colorways that can date your home. Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag or berber carpet, and flocked wallpaper can also date your home.

When you're behind the times, buyers don't want to join you. They want to be perceived as savvy and cool.

In conclusion, the market is a brutal mirror. if you're guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it's an investment that others should pay you to profit, you're in for a rude awakening. You'll be stuck with an asset that isn't selling.

Also See: The Three Biggest Turn-Ons For Homebuyers

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  About the author, Blanche Evans


  • Comment Link loanemu Saturday, 30 May 2015 4:52 am posted by loanemu

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  • Comment Link Marcelle Moneypenny Monday, 22 September 2014 11:16 pm posted by Marcelle Moneypenny

    I really like your writing style, excellent info, regards for putting up :D. "If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk" by Laurence J. Peter.

  • Comment Link Liliana Wednesday, 16 July 2014 7:43 pm posted by Liliana

    Blue is dated? My God -- blue is THE color for 2014!!

    Research much?

  • Comment Link Fiona Henneuse Thursday, 24 April 2014 1:52 am posted by Fiona Henneuse

    I was left incredulous when I viewed a very expensive , renovated home in Thirroul at an open doors day last year.I was visiting the area with my husband as we are emigrating this year from Scotland. There were dozens of eager people visiting the property , loving and saying over the space, the decor etc. ,some I am sure saw it as a kind of status symbole To be seen there!
    We were just curious , and interested to see what our money might buy in the future.
    Despite this I was THE ONLY potential purchaser of this million bucks home that picked up and read the survey report lying on the coffee table for all to view!
    In Scotland it is obligatory to have a report carried out when selling,and anyone who buys a house without instructing a survey is in my opinion a complete fool!

  • Comment Link Nancy Williams Tuesday, 22 April 2014 6:56 am posted by Nancy Williams

    #1....unattractive, unappealing entrance, front door, driveway! First impressions before you even get inside!

  • Comment Link Fran kershner Monday, 21 April 2014 12:09 pm posted by Fran kershner

    This may be considered as dated décor but I would add WALLPAPER to that list. Have an estate that has wallpaper on all walls, even bath, kitchen and hallway ceilings and I can not even get anyone to remove it.

  • Comment Link Anne Meczywor Monday, 21 April 2014 11:35 am posted by Anne Meczywor

    While pet odors send buyers heading for the door, smoking odors stop them before they cross the threshold! I have buyers who will see right past dated decor, but can't see past their noses. Sellers have no idea how many tens of thousands of dollars smoking costs them in property value.

  • Comment Link Ron Saturday, 19 April 2014 1:59 pm posted by Ron

    This should be madatory reading for all sellers

  • Comment Link John Trenti Saturday, 19 April 2014 12:55 pm posted by John Trenti

    I would DEFINITELY include any signs of water damage/intrusion and mold/mildew in the top three!

  • Comment Link Curt Tuesday, 08 April 2014 2:39 pm posted by Curt

    So, if "Onyx and pewter" date the home from the aughts, then what colors are :in' now -5 years later?

  • Comment Link Mike F Sunday, 06 April 2014 7:36 pm posted by Mike F

    It was just commented: "A buyer who insists on a house inspection is a buyer who will miss out on the most desirable properties."
    I'm almost left speechless...but, not writeless. The truth is, for a buyer to not get a professional home inspection is foolish. There are way too many things that a professional should find that the typical buyer would not. To save around $400 and not get an inspection could cost you many thousands in repairs, etc. A seller should want a buyer to have an inspection as it would give them confidence in your property, unless you are hiding something. By all means, encourage your buyers to get a professional home inspection.

  • Comment Link John Shantz Sunday, 06 April 2014 8:02 am posted by John Shantz

    A buyer who insists on a house inspection is a buyer who will miss out on the most desirable properties.

  • Comment Link Anita Vines Friday, 04 April 2014 8:44 am posted by Anita Vines

    Every point in this article is on point. Strong words, but all very true!

  • Comment Link carol Landolfo Friday, 04 April 2014 7:49 am posted by carol Landolfo

    I believe that the pre-inspection was to be done by the seller to alleviate a lot of objections. That is money well spent if all the items are repaired and listed with receipts or photos.

  • Comment Link Brian Kimmel Thursday, 03 April 2014 9:43 pm posted by Brian Kimmel

    Too few realtors know anything about sustainable or self sufficient properties or how to sell them or their real value.

  • Comment Link John Torgerson Thursday, 03 April 2014 5:19 pm posted by John Torgerson

    Its very important that a seller consult with their real estate agent about their specific market. While these tips are all completely valid, real estates first rule is always location. What is appropriate decor for getting the most from the sale of a home will be much different in a dense urban area than in the country or a suburb. Always make sure your professional knows your market.

  • Comment Link Christy Thursday, 03 April 2014 5:04 pm posted by Christy

    I can vouch for the clutter tip. I once viewed a house that had figurines from edge to edge of every horizontal surface available--tables, kitchen counters, dressers, wall shelves--they even lined the edges of the stairs. It was so overwhelming I couldn't wait to get out of there. Nothing about the house could compete with the gazillions of figurines (and not even nice ones, just the cheap ugly type),

  • Comment Link Ryan Thompson Royal Lepage Burloak Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:01 pm posted by Ryan Thompson Royal Lepage Burloak

    IN the market that I work in, Greater Toronto Area, homes sell quickly in one of two conditions. Well maintained, immaculate homes or completely dated homes. The majority of buyers are looking for something move in ready that has a WOW factor. ON the other side of the coin, with the way homes are moving here, there are plenty of people looking to buy a dilapidated home and flip it for a profit. If you're home is in the middle, you can expect to sit for a while and get less than you ask for. Making your home loo it's best will get you more money every time!!!!!!

  • Comment Link Halina Kraszewski Thursday, 03 April 2014 10:45 am posted by Halina Kraszewski

    Pricing the property correctly at the beginning is crucial in order to attract the right buyer and to make the selling process as painless as possible. I always tell my sellers: "In Real Estate everything sells... at the right price".

  • Comment Link Kathleen Rottner Thursday, 03 April 2014 10:05 am posted by Kathleen Rottner

    I have the seller do all inspection before I put the house on the market. I tell the buyer to base their purchase price on the inspection report. If they choose to do an inspection and find something my inspector has not (which has never happened) we will discuss it.
    Kathleen Rottner
    Keller Williams Beverly Hill Ca.

  • Comment Link Fred Coutchie Thursday, 03 April 2014 9:26 am posted by Fred Coutchie

    The condition/decor comments are driven by current market conditions. 3 years ago when things were bad, you had to put granite in and new flooring just to sell it.
    Today I've seen some pretty tired properties going for very good money, because buyers don't have much to choose from and decor can be fixed, other things not.
    P.S. Probably goes without saying-things like a busy road have an impact. And when things are slow you cant sell them or take a huge discount. In a tight market the discount is lower, but it is still there. Personally I think these types of propertis should always be avoided. If your forced to sell in a soft market the percent of the loss increases significantly.

  • Comment Link Roderick Beck Thursday, 03 April 2014 9:20 am posted by Roderick Beck

    Actually, as a successful real estate entrepreneur in Eastern Europe, I disagree. Real estate agents are constantly trying to reduce prices because it is easier to sell. In other words, real estate agents are lazy and offer little value. My success comes from understanding direct web marketing. I have encountered virtually no salesmen in Hungary who even understand the basics of educating the client, making a good sales pitch, and creating sales channels. They just sit around waiting for clients to come to them and then they pressure the seller to reduce the price.

  • Comment Link Ken DAdemo, Realtor Thursday, 03 April 2014 6:43 am posted by Ken DAdemo, Realtor

    Every seller feels their home is the best one in the whole town. When I get a seller that want to list a property for more than the Comparable Market Analysis(CMA) it usually ends up becoming being on the market too long and becomes a"stale" listing. We are in a buyers market in CT everything in this article is true, but also realize, you could have a totally updated house and still get negative feedback from buyers. While buyers want to see pristine, they also are ready to renovate to their liking, including ripping out a $40,000 kitchen just because they don't like the counter color. if the home is priced at or below market value, in a location of choice for the buyer, is clean, uncluttered, no disgusting odors, fresh paint, new looking carpets/floors, etc, it should sell quickly.

  • Comment Link Steve Thursday, 03 April 2014 4:36 am posted by Steve

    Estate agents in general are reluctant to give potential buyers information regarding any home inspection, even though leading estate agency principals have agreed that a home inspection would be of benefit to all parties.
    Estate agents are trained to sell properties, not to inspect them in detail. Agents see and mostly report on obvious visual defects. No-one would expect an estate agent to climb into the... roof space or onto the roof, to inspect the condition of the roof beams and roof structure or the condition of the roof tiles.
    We would suggest that all agents inform the buyer that a full professional home inspection of the property would be in the interest of all parties, to identify potential problems that cannot be obviously seen on a 15 minute viewing of the property. A professional home inspection safeguards the buyer, seller and estate agent from future complaints and at time legal issues in regards to non-disclosure on the condition of the property.
    We believe estate agents should inform buyers, before any documents are signed, of the services of a professional home inspection.

  • Comment Link Gaz101010101 Thursday, 03 April 2014 3:53 am posted by Gaz101010101

    Sellers won't listen! The market value of the property may be high, but all the issues with the home itself start to add up and thus affects the perceived value of the house. People will be willing to put in a lower offer to accommodate the necessary facelift, but sellers just dont take advice very well. Our comm structure is low and furthermore the property is not worth what the seller has in mind. People hate this home, and have commented time and time again, if it was asked at a lower price they would buy. Listen to the market. Agents only valuate market-related prices, but the perceived value of the home plays a big role. You want to sell? Make it easier for yourself, tidy up or be prepared to receive lower offers. Simple.

  • Comment Link Allan Wilson Thursday, 03 April 2014 1:45 am posted by Allan Wilson

    For buyers in the Western Cape, We do professional and unbiased Infra Red Inspections to identify sources of damp and structural leaks in houses. A worthwhile investment for any property !

  • Comment Link Dennis Williams Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:57 am posted by Dennis Williams

    Good article. Gardens and road verges are what buyers see first on arrival. Sellers must realize that they are selling the the entire plot that the house stands on including the improvements and boundary walls between neighbors. I hear too often from other member agents in my area that the price is the sellers valuation. Where did these sellers attend real estate school?

  • Comment Link Maryanne Horwath Wednesday, 02 April 2014 8:52 am posted by Maryanne Horwath

    So true!

  • Comment Link Mike F Tuesday, 01 April 2014 11:39 pm posted by Mike F

    Don't forget about the pets in an around the home. NO ONE likes your dogs as much as you do. Get them out of there and clean up after them prior to anyone else coming over to see the home. Having them on a ripe or chain or in a dog pen is not sufficient if they are barkers.
    As to "smells", nothing is worse than a house where cats have been kept and allowed to pee. If that is your house, no one will want it - period.
    First Impressions - Deal with every "negative" from the street to inside the front door and then beyond, if you can. Do not have the potential buyer thinking negative thoughts before they even get in the front door.

  • Comment Link Ingrid Friel Monday, 31 March 2014 3:29 pm posted by Ingrid Friel

    Working with a stager is often money well spent. Improves the online pictures and showing experience. They can redesign with what you have and/or bring in furnishings and decor.

    Smell is a biggie - as an owner it is easy to get use to kid, pet and misc other smells that might offend prospective buyers. Stagers will sometime offer scent services or suggestions too. Lavender and vanilla are go-to scents. Vacant homes may benefit from being aired-out. Fresh baked cookies is an oldie but goodie.

    As the market is poised to improve for sellers work with your realtor to price your home appropriately.

    Having laundry baskets or boxes to scoop up and remove clutter for a showing can get the job done. Keeping some necessary items in the car for you or the kids like books, toys, DVDs can help lighten some stress getting out the door for showings.

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