9 Things That Will Repel Home Buyers

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on March 14, 2019

Before you list your house on the market to sell, I always encourage sellers to look around their homes with an “eye of a buyer” for a few things that I’ve seen over the years, which might be somewhat discouraging to home buyers. Buyers will without a doubt be comparing many properties the day they first see yours and will readily push yours aside if something strikes them the wrong way upon seeing your property. Sellers should be aware of common things that turn off potential buyers.

Using a bedroom for other purposes

The number of bedrooms a home has is normally at close to the top of a buyer’s list of “must have’s.” Right there with price and school district or location! If you happened to convert a bedroom into something like a home office for your own personal needs while residing in your home to make it work for you, it is definitely advisable to convert it back to a bedroom before you put the house on sale. The buyer may not find the home office as useful as you found it. Also, most the average home office has the most opportunity to look ‘cluttered’ – with wires and stacks of paper – as opposed to any other room in the house.  Most are just not that ‘pretty’ to look at or aesthetically pleasing! When a particular space or room is not laid out like it was originally intended to be used, most buyers lose the ability to ‘visualize’ a living space.

Turning your kid’s room into a theme park

Since children are very creative and can be more free spirited than most adults, many parents let their kids turn their bedrooms into something that resembles Disneyland. This turns off buyers as they might have teenage kids who don’t require all the fantastic decor! What they see, is how much money it would take to repaint, get the stick on ‘glow in the dark stars’ off the ceiling – along with patching and repainting – etc… Making a room transformed back into a blank canvas will help buyers feel the space is move in ready, and they can once again see themselves in the space!

Dirty dishes

Home buyers are very observant about how sellers take care of a home before they buy it. They need to see the house at its best so please be sure upon showing the home that the kitchen is clean. Dirty sinks send the wrong impression and are surprisingly common.

Making buyers remove their shoes

No, its not rude to ask buyers to remove their shoes when entering you’re home. Especially if you’ve just had the carpet professionally cleaned and have scheduled a large number of showings in one day.  Buyers may be a little turned off by the idea however. If this is something you’d like to enforce, be prepared to handle the situation accordingly by providing a basket of shoe covers at the door with a polite sign asking buyers – and agents – to please either remove shoes when showing or use shoe covers as provided.

Here’s a little secret though. As a seller, even if removing shoes during showings is not a big deal to you, putting shoe covers in a basket and placing a request to “please remove shoes or use shoe covers” gives buyers the impression that your house has been cared for and well maintained! It will make it stand out compared to the next one they walk through, because it shows you care.  As I say, even if it’s not a big deal to you personally.

Pet toys, food bowls, and liter boxes in plain view

As ‘pet parents,’ one thing that’s commonly overlooked when preparing a house for a showing is your pet (or pets). If you have a pet then make sure everything like dog food and pet toys are stored away out of sight (and smell). Having dog toys laying around in random rooms in the house may not be the as appealing to a buyer who isn’t as pet friendly as you are. I had a showing on one of my listings the other day where the feedback was, “you could tell pets were allowed in the house.”  They were not there when the showing occurred.  The house didn’t ‘smell like a dog’ or anything unappealing.  There were a few toys here and there and a food bowl.  That’s it and that caused the buyer, who was concerned about their own allergy issues, to walk away from a one (1) year old home that’s up for resale that still showed like brand new!

It gets worse when you see those 72″ climbing trees for cats and the – gag me – smelly liter box!

Family room in garage

Just because you decided to convert the garage into an extra family room doesn’t necessarily mean the majority of home buyers wants the same setup. Especially if it means having to park outdoors and deal with weather and safety issues.  If all the other comparable listings have garages and yours does not, it’s a negative.  Revert that garage back to a garage with no clutter so they can visualize being able to park their cars in it and use it for storage needs!

Above-ground pools

As you attempt to sell your home, an above-ground pool in the backyard is not a good idea. It takes up valuable real estate – i.e. backyard space – I’d always encourage a seller to dismantle it well before putting the house on the market for sale. If the pool leaves behind a dead spot of grass in the backyard, and it will, so if you know you’ll be putting your house on the market in the near future then take the pool down.  Especially going into spring and summer this will give your yard plenty of time to recover and hopefully keep your grass looking green for showings. I had a builder tell me years ago that, “every Mom and Dad want a backyard with some green grass for their kids and pets to run around in.”  From my experience, that’s true, so removing that above-ground pool can add real estate to where the kids and pets can romp and play. That’s a good thing!

Light fixtures

It is true that a beautiful chandelier can increase the intensity of your room. It can, however, contribute to turning off a potential buyer if it looks too formal or not trendy enough for the broad spectrum of buyers today. If you have a sophisticated light fixture, especially if you’re planning on taking it with you, it may be a good idea to remove it before putting your house on the market for sale and put something in it’s place that’s trendy and appeals to all buyers. Again this all goes back to how neutral you’re transforming your house to get it ready to list.

Sellers being present at showings

This has a negative impact. When sellers are present, or watching on video cameras placed strategically around the home, it makes buyers feel uncomfortable and awkward. They rush through the showing, don’t look at closets and other features of the house because they feel they are being watched.  If you have a showing scheduled, Mr. and Ms. Seller, take off and let the real estate agent show it!  It will make the buyers feel more at ease and comfortable seeing a home that’s something ‘they’ might fit in, instead of someone else’s home – who’s lurking right around the corner.

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