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12 Unexpected Buyer Turnoffs

Not getting a great response from potential buyers? Easy-to-overlook buyer turnoffs could be the culprit.

Homebuyers are a notoriously picky bunch. Even if your house is practically perfect, with lots of light, amazing curb appeal, a large kitchen, and spa-like bathrooms, you could be missing the mark.

What’s holding you back from selling? You may be overlooking some unexpected buyer turnoffs.

1. Pet water bowls in sight

Your house might not smell of dog, but if a potential buyer spots Spot’s bowl, you might ending up feeling sick as a dog when you lose the sale. Even a hint of a canine resident can send fraidy-cats running.

2. Hot tub time machine

Although you might think that groovy backyard hot tub will impress, potential buyers might view it as a huge hassle — just think about the expense and aggravation of removing it to expand the deck!

3. Too much light

No one wants to live in a cave, but the flip side also can be true: sometimes a room is just too bright.

Northern California real estate agent Aileen La Bouff says that when her client walked into a bright kitchen with tall windows and a skylight, she squealed, “Eww … too much light. I feel like I’m on display.”

“That had to be a first in my book,” says La Bouff.

4. Single-pane windows

San Francisco is a big city with big-city noise,” says Roh Habibi, star of the TV show Million Dollar Listing San Francisco. He paints a noisy picture of buses, cars, sirens, bars, and nightclubs. Exciting, yes, but most people would like some quiet inside.

Single-pane windows don’t hide city noise, and buyers are often turned off if they hear it; soundproofing can be an easy fix.

5. Dated hardware

The hardware and fixtures you installed in the ’90s might be off your radar, but potential buyers may find them dated.

“A quick and easy fix is to switch the brass lighting, cabinet hardware, and door hardware to brushed nickel,” says Illinois real estate professional John Michael Grafft.

6. Visible signs of mold or mildew

You already know this one isn’t good, but having mold and mildew in the house is even worse than you might think. Buyers see it and imagine “spacesuits, masks, and thousands upon thousands of dollars in repairs running out of their bank accounts,” says Los Angeles real estate agent and coach Chantay Bridges.

7. Personal artifacts

You might cherish those years of enjoyment gazing at your child’s artwork, the prize fish you caught, or your creepy-cute doll collection, but those are all turnoffs to buyers.

8. Dirty laundry

You’ve probably heard the expression “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.” (If not? Bless your heart. It means don’t discuss private issues in public.)

But in the case of showing your home, you can take the phrase literally. If buyers see your dirty laundry, they’ll flee before they look at the rest of the house, says Denise Cheshire, a professional home stager in Oregon.

9. Odd use of space

Buyers want to visualize themselves living in the home. Why make things difficult for them by showing your space in an unconventional way?

“When buyers see four tables in the same room or a love seat in the dining room, it can be quite confusing,” says Tampa, FL, real estate associate Timothy Norman Frie.

10. Dirty windows

We know it’s a pain to clean the windows (inside and out), but it can make a world of difference to buyers when they can actually see the world around them.

11. Unfriendly reading material

Any object in the home can make an impression on a potential buyer. Margaret Innis, a professional home stager in Massachusetts, remembers the time she staged an attorney’s condo that was filled with books on litigation. “The last thing a buyer wants to think about is getting sued by a seller,” says Innis.

12. Mismatched flooring

“Three different shades of hardwoods or multiple types of laminate throughout a house can be unpleasing to buyers,” says Kansas City, MO, real estate broker Brittney Orellano.

All they’ll see are dollar signs as they figure how much it will cost them to redo the flooring.