Although you may love your furry friends, the presence of pets in your home can be a huge turnoff to potential buyers.


Entice buyers by avoiding these 4 common turnoffs.

You love your home. You’ve made lots of happy memories there and put time and energy into decorating and furnishing. So when you list your home and it sits on the market for weeks, with no one seemingly interested in buying? Baffling.

Now is the time to take a hard look at the good, the bad, and the really unpleasant — so that you can incorporate changes to sell your home faster.

Rather than wonder what’s wrong, go to the source. Ask the people who’ve viewed your home what they thought. Ask your real estate agent to email surveys that prospects can complete anonymously, or keep surveys on-site at open houses. Gather feedback about what’s great — and what’s not.

You may not agree with everything potential buyers say about your home (you think that glittery pink kitchen countertop is gorgeous, thank you very much), but this is a business transaction. When it comes to selling, the customer is usually right.

While you’ll want to gather specific feedback on your home’s stumbling blocks, here are four common things sellers overlook that are total turnoffs for buyers.

1. Clutter and disarray

Toys strewn about the floor, dishes in the sink, piles of receipts and wrappers on top of the dresser — all of these things give the impression that your home hasn’t been kept in the best order. Clutter also makes buyers suspect a lack of sufficient storage space.

Purge your home of any unnecessary belongings before you let buyers start looking through it. Cull your handbag collection; sell exercise equipment on eBay or Craigslist; donate a few bags of old clothes to the Salvation Army.

William Sisk, who lives in a multifamily dwelling in Atlanta, doesn’t have a garage or toolshed. He stores his woodworking tools in a bedroom. But he knows that’s a turnoff during home tours and open houses.

“I keep them [my tools] in my trunk now,” Sisk says. “It’s my mobile toolshed.”

2. Outdated décor

Floral wallpaper in the bedroom … popcorn ceilings … wood paneling on the walls … brass doorknobs. These are a few of a buyer’s least favorite things.

Certain décor elements scream “outdated,” and buyers don’t want to spend the time and money needed to bring their new home into the modern era.

You don’t need to spend thousands on a kitchen remodel. Simply swapping brass knobs and hinges for a chrome or satin-nickel finish, or painting the wood paneling white (if you don’t want the expense of removing it entirely) can be a quick fix. These improvements can cost less than $100 and make a massive difference in the way your home shows to buyers.

3. Pets

You may love your three cats and five dogs, but the pet smell from your furry friends could be keeping buyers at bay— or worse, triggering allergic reactions in potential buyers. Even if you have only one pet, it can be surprising how you’ve become accustomed to their unique odor.

Get your carpets (and furniture, if need be) professionally steam-cleaned to remove the animal smells. (Remember: just because you can’t smell your pets doesn’t mean the house is scent-free.)

Dust and clean places where fur tends to gather, such as baseboards, small cracks, and room corners. Keep all pets and pet accessories out of sight during showings. You may even want to hire a company to vacuum the air vents and HVAC returns; pet fur can get trapped in these places, triggering allergic reactions.

4. Too much “you”

You want buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home. But that’s hard to do when they can’t get past all your kids’ artwork on the fridge or the purple leopard-print sofa in the living room.

Start depersonalizing your home to make it more of a blank canvas for buyers. That doesn’t mean your home should be empty; it just means the décor should reflect a neutral, universal taste.

If you’re not sure what that looks like, tour a model home at a large new construction development. Notice how it’s tastefully decorated with browns, beige, and creams? Notice how there are no personal family photos, the closets have a few items of clothing but are not overstuffed, and the bathrooms display neatly folded, color-coordinated towels?

Try to match that neutral, clean, professional look. Yes, you might personally think beige is boring, but your goal isn’t to satisfy yourself — it’s to appeal to a wide audience.

It may make you a little sad to strip away the things that made your home yours, but remember that it’s no longer your home now. It’s time to hand it over to new owners who will love it in their own way.