Anita Clark Realtor

12 Biggest Turn-Offs for Prospective Home Buyers

The 12 Biggest Turn-Offs for Prospective Home Buyers

When trying to sell your home, you may unwittingly be doing something (or not doing something) that will send major turn-off signals to your prospective buyers. You may be offending them without knowing it. Considering how difficult it is to sell a home, you may want to go through our list before you put your home on the market. It will certainly save you some unnecessary stress and worry. So without further ado, here are the 12 biggest turn-offs for prospective home buyers that can easily chase consumers away.

The Biggest Turn-offs for Buyers

An Unpleasant Odor

Don’t be offended when we say that your home might smell in an unpleasant way without you being aware of it. As you spend every day in the space, chances are you are completely used not only to the smell but also to all the minor issues a home buyer would not exactly find reassuring.

This is especially true if you have pets or if you’re a smoker (or if you allow others to smoke in your home).

The best way to tell is to ask someone to take a sniff – preferably someone you know will be honest and someone who doesn’t visit your home all that often.

To be on the safe side, you can clean the carpets, rugs, curtains, and all the upholstered furniture before anyone comes to see your home. However, try to give the cleaning smells enough time to evaporate as well. The smell of cigarette smoke or stale damp will certainly not be alluring, but neither will be the overpowering smell of disinfectant.

If you want to go the extra mile, bake something delicious before you show the home. Or, you can light some candles that smell of baking, vanilla, or other neutral scents. Unpleasant odors are one of the biggest turn-offs for prospective home buyers. That is why it is key to ensure your home smells its best as you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression.

Eager Pets

What Not to Do When Selling Your Home

Some people are not the biggest cat or dog lovers, and that’s okay. If you have a pet, try to ensure they are not on the premises when you are showing the home.

People can be put off by an eager dog greeting them as they come in or a curious cat wanting to say hello. Of course, there are people who will love to be greeted by an animal, but you never can tell, so it’s better to be on the safe side.

Take them out for a walk if you can, or keep them in their carriers for the duration. Locking them in a room will only cause distress, and you’ll have to explain why a particular area of the house can’t be shown.

Lastly, make sure their toys aren’t lying around everywhere and that their food and litter has also been placed out of sight.

Dirty Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchen and bathroom fixtures are usually very important to every buyer, and if yours are discolored, rusty, or just outright dirty, you may be faced with some upturned noses.

Make sure you give both of these spaces a very thorough cleaning, and you can also invite someone in to point out the flaws. As we’ve said, you are used to the space and probably won’t see that stain that’s been in the bathroom forever as a big issue.

You don’t need to make the place look brand new. People will expect the home to be lived in. But do try to eliminate all the everyday dirt and give your faucets, sink, toilet, and tub an extra cleaning. Make them shine. You’ll notice you feel more comfortable in the space as well, as gleaming surfaces always lift the atmosphere.


Needless to say, no one wants to live in a damp home. However, your prospective buyers might be ready to accept some level of structural dampness if it can be fixed easily and if you are open about it from the start.

Go over all areas of your home and detect any potential problems. Pay specific attention to the basement and the attic, if you have one. This is where a lot of damp issues tend to occur.

If you can, fix the problem immediately. If not, you will want to speak about it with your realtor. If you are showing the home yourself, tell each buyer what the situation is and what the potential added costs of repairing the damage would be.

An Unpleasant Commute

Depending on where your home is located, you might have a difficult time selling it to people who need to get to work across town. While most buyers will look for homes in an area that suits their commuting needs, there are those who venture out of this area, whether due to high prices, a lack of available properties, or any other number of reasons.

Long commutes will impact work-life balance, so you want to make sure your buyers are aware of the main roads, available parking spaces in the area if your home does not have its own, the nearest bus stop or subway station, etc.

Make sure you talk about this point with your realtor, as they will certainly know the area as well as you do. Also, find out whether potential buyers plan to drive to work or take public transportation as this will impact their commuting experience quite a bit. You can highlight neat shortcuts or other ways to make any potential commute more pleasant and less time-consuming.

An Untidy Garden

12 Things that Scare Away Buyers

If you have a garden and you leave it to fend for itself, it won’t appeal to your prospective buyers all that much. In fact, it can be a major turn-off.

Take care of any weeds and unruly plants, and make sure there are no excessive leaves blocking the paths and gutters. You don’t have to plant brand new plants. You can just do your best with the ones you have in the garden at the moment.

You want the space to be neat overall, so make sure there is no clutter in the garden. Tools, toys, furniture, and items you just don’t know where to store should all be tidied away. You want the place to look appealing and comfortable, as opposed to shabby and chaotic.

Too Much Personality

Buyers would like to imagine themselves living in a space when they come to see it. If there’s too much of you in the space, they may find it difficult to imagine the rooms without your furniture and decor. And that can make them less likely to consider your home in earnest.

Try to get rid of everything that screams personality and is in plain sight. This will mean your family photos, memorabilia, the trinkets you have around your shelves. Find a place for them while you are showing the home so that they don’t distract from the appeal of the actual structure.

Again, you can ask a neutral party to come in and take a more objective look. They can point out the items that might best be stored while the house is on the market. You might feel like you are living in a foreign space for a bit, but since you are moving anyway, this shouldn’t pose too much of an issue.

Too Little Personality

On the other hand, you also don’t want the space to seem sterile and unwelcoming. The trick is in finding the right balance to create a space that’s personalized yet still open to redecorating. It needs to have character but at the same time show potential to embrace a whole new personal imprint.

Leave some of your decor out. You can leave prints or paintings on the walls, leave the cushions and rugs out, and make the home feel cozy.

You are looking for neutral items, as opposed to those that have your personality written all over them.

Consider how furniture stores like IKEA show their rooms. Basically, there are plenty of decorative items around, but they are neutral and can belong to anyone. This is the sort of atmosphere you should be aiming for.

Misrepresented Homes

If the ad you’ve placed is radically different from what a buyer can actually see, chances are they will feel extremely let down. Of course, you want to make your home sound like a catch, but you don’t want to exaggerate, skim over the less-than-stellar bits, and allow your viewers to be disappointed.

In fact, you’ll find that serious buyers like to know the truth upfront and will appreciate the honesty. Even if there is some work that needs to be done, they will be grateful for the information. They won’t mind looking at your home like they would if you’d sugarcoated the state of your plumbing, for example.

Be real and straightforward in your ads and listings, and you’ll save both yourself and prospective buyers a lot of trouble.

A Neighborhood from Hell The Biggest Turn-Offs to Home Buyers

Sadly, if your neighbors are not exactly kind and pleasant people, there is no way of working around that issue. Your buyers will figure that out for themselves when they move in, if not sooner. But on your part, you don’t want to make them feel boxed in and have them regret their purchasing decision.

If you have issues with any of the neighbors, tread carefully when selling your home. If you know someone is likely to be unpleasant, try to schedule viewing when you know they are out. Or, give fair warning to your realtor and buyers, so they know what they might be up against.

You can always warn the neighbors you are selling and give them the chance to behave decently. If they don’t, you’ll have to figure out a way to make everyone get along or simply hope that they don’t cause too much of an inconvenience.

Honesty is still your best policy, so tell your realtor about the loud kids next door, the dog that barks in the middle of the night, or the lady across the street who loves to peek through her windows.

Your Realtor

Sometimes your Realtor can do more harm than good. That’s especially if they are too eager, too pushy, or if they try to hide something to make a sale. Choose a buyers agent that has your best interest at heart!

Unfortunately, you will never really know how your home is being represented unless you are present at the viewing. The best way to work around that issue is to send someone you trust to view the house as if they were there for the first time, to test the skills and the charm of your Realtor.

When hiring a Realtor, try to go for someone you click with. If you want to work with a specific agency but don’t like the person they send over, try to ask for a different agent. Most agencies will be happy to oblige.

Look for someone who agrees with you on the important matters – someone you find trustworthy, who will represent your home the right way.

You can ask visitors to leave feedback, too. A handy questionnaire at the door can do wonders for helping you make a better impression and figure out how your realtor is working.

Your Presence

Finally, you have to consider whether you could be part of the problem.

Viewers will feel a lot more shy about snooping around if you are there. They want to open cabinets and take a peek in every corner, and they might not be comfortable with your presence.

If you are hovering, pointing things out, trying to make small talk and asking questions, they will just want to get rid of you. Most people just want to see the home in peace and get on with their day.

Try not to be present when people are viewing your home. Or, if you are present, let them be. Don’t be pushy, needy, or too friendly. Find just the right balance between pleasant and unobtrusive, and you’ll notice buyers responding much better.

Final Thoughts

Do you think you might be giving off any of these signals to your prospective buyers? If you are, you can remedy the issue and welcome another round of viewers.

Ideally, you will want to make sure none of these turn-offs are present before you place your home on the market in the first place. But if not, there’s always room for improvement, so don’t stress about any mistakes that may have been made.

If you found this article on the biggest turn-offs for prospective home buyers helpful, please share the article so more consumers can benefit from the information provided.

Biggest Turn-Offs for Prospective Home Buyers

About Anita Clark Realtor

Anita Clark has written 627 posts on this blog.

Anita is a residential Real Estate Agent in Warner Robins Georgia, with Coldwell Banker Access Realty (478) 953-8595, aiding buyers and sellers with all their real estate questions on her Warner Robins blog.

  • Anita Clark Realtor

    470 S Houston Lake Rd
    Warner Robins, GA 31088

    (478) 960-8055

    Coldwell Banker Access Realty

    (478) 953-8595

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