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8 Home Issues That Scare Off Buyers

home sales fall through hero
Do you know what issues most often turn off buyers or kill a sale? Here are some of the big ones.

Whether you’re selling San Angelo, TX, real estate or planning to list your home for sale in Hoboken, NJ, there’s probably a lot on your home sale to-do list. And while, yes, you want your house to look its best for prospective buyers, there are some less-than-obvious issues you should probably address before your Trulia listing goes up. From a leaky or aging roof to a positive radon test in the basement, here’s the lowdown on some common issues that can cause a home sale to fall through.


Roof issues are responsible for 39% of homeowners’ insurance claims, according to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association. If the roof of your for-sale home is approaching the end of its typical life span — 20 to 25 years for shingles — replacing it (or getting a certification that it’s in great shape!) could get you to the closing table faster.


“While you may need to wait for inclement weather to realize your return on investment, a mere 30 minutes of routine rain gutter maintenance could prevent thousands of dollars in damage to the foundation of a home,” says Than Merrill, former host of A&E’s Flip This House and CEO of FortuneBuilders. If you outsource this chore, expect to pay $3 to $9 per foot.

Doors and windows

Expect buyers to open and close doors and windows. A stuck window or creaky door is a quick fix for a seller but could be a red flag to buyers who want a well-cared-for home. Replacing windows can bring a 50% to 80% return on your investment, but if they’re not stuck shut, some sellers would be better served to bump this down a few notches on their must-do list.


Most buyers recognize that they can easily buy a new fridge, but if most of your appliances look as if they belong on That ’70s Show, buyers may wonder what else needs replacing. Meanwhile, if you’re planning to take your refrigerator with you when you move, make sure that’s mentioned in your sellers’ disclosure.


A well-maintained system can last up to 25 years, but an aged one could be a point of concern for buyers — and costly to repair or replace on the fly for a seller who doesn’t want to lose a sale. “If your existing system has been in place for more than 10 to 15 years, it’s likely that you’ll soon need a new one. It becomes an area that a potential buyer will most likely use to negotiate a lower price,” says Phil Eby of Eby Exteriors in Akron, PA.


Termite infestation causes more than $5 billion in damage to U.S. homes each year, and sellers are typically required to disclose it. Adding a termite warranty from a remediation company can give your buyer peace of mind. But be warned: The presence of termites can often be a deal breaker.


Cracks in walls or a foundation are often a sign of larger problems. Be prepared to fix structural problems before your house hits the market, or have a plan in place for repairs if a buyer balks after an inspection.


Radon is a naturally occurring, carcinogenic, radioactive gas that’s formed from the breakdown of uranium. It’s found in rocks, soil, and water. To put in perspective just how dangerous radon can be, consider this: Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer — radon is number two.

Bonus: A too-high listing price

Pricing your home too high could ultimately cause your house to miss out on the right buyer, stay on the market longer, and bring in a lower price than the market supports. “Determining the best asking price for a home is one of the most important aspects of selling a home. If your home is listed at a price that is above market value, you will miss out on prospective buyers,” says Chase Michels of Brush Hill Realtors in Downers Grove, IL.

Have you had to fix any of these issues to ensure your closing goes smoothly? Tell us in the comments!