Everyone is obviously free to express their feelings with their own home, of course! However, as a Realtor for over a decade, I’ve been in literally thousands of homes and worked with hundreds of buyers. I’ve literally been on the front line with the masses, giving me a perspective of what turns buyers on and off. As a seller and homeowner, you have every right to decorate how you want, determine how many pets that you have, smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, etc. . . BUT, when it’s time to sell, you must appeal to the masses.

Here is a comprehensive list of 20 items that I’ve seen over the years that turn buyers off.

1. Animals and Animal Stuff – Hey, I’m human, too, and love my two chihuahuas but, when selling your home, it’s imperative to remove them during showings. The last thing that a buyer wants to see is a dog greet them at the door or even in the driveway as you pull in with your Realtor. I imagine most animals are “probably” friendly, but the buyers don’t know that. Being a Realtor for about 12 years, I’ve had a number of encounters that weren’t very pleasant that definitely put off my buyer clients. Also, before showings, spend a little time to clear the area of doggie toys and make sure to clean the litter box if needed. Odor can be your friend or enemy when showing your home to prospective buyers, and animals can put the odds against you. Do what you have to do to make your home smell animal free. Again, I’m not being a self-righteous Realtor here; I’m also talking to myself, as well.

2. Overpriced for Your Market – Even though this list is in no particular order, overpricing your home would be number one in my eyes if it were. This is the single biggest turn off for buyers because they probably won’t even visit your home if they feel that you are priced $50,000 over what it would appraise for. I have dedicated articles to this topic alone and won’t go into much detail here but pricing your home properly will bring buyers to your door.

3. Odd Wall Colors – To better appeal to most buyers, the rule of thumb when it comes to wall color is to go neutral. It’s really hard to go wrong using soft khaki colors with white trim. Sometimes I see homes that go way over the top to make a room pop using harsh bright colors that are really off-putting. Although buyers feel like they will have to paint anyway, the less that you make them feel that they will have to do after closing the better.

4. Over the Top Wallpaper – As we all know, the use of wallpaper was huge in the 70’s and 80’s and, sadly, that style of wallpaper remains there for the next several decades. Most people nowadays do not want wallpaper in their home, which should be a consideration in selling your home today.

5. Toys and Baby Supplies – I have five kids (most have left the nest) and totally understand having toys around for your kids. The point of this post is to help you sell your home the quickest by removing things that may turn off buyers. Make it a point to pack away toys, dirty diapers, breast pumps, etc . . . in order to appeal to most buyers.

6. Making Buyers Take Off Their Shoes – Yes, you may have just cleaned your carpets or maybe it’s been a tradition in your home for generations, but this will turn off buyers. This doesn’t happen all of the time but, every now and then, there will be signs on the front door to “Please remove your shoes”. This is a turn-off for most buyers.

7. Cigarette Smoke – Although smoking is not as prevalent as it used to be, we still walk in homes where it’s obvious that a smoker lives there, and buyers automatically think that they have to repaint the walls and replace any carpet. Consider doing these things before selling in order to attract more buyers.

8. Cooking Smells – The Olfactory Sensor is strong among virtually everyone and can steer buyers away in seconds. I love to cook as much as the next person, but there are certain scents that tend to linger long after the meal is finished. Just be aware of foods like cabbage, curry, onions, etc. can produce smells that may not be that desirable before a showing.

9. Clutter – Most people realize that having too much “stuff” in the house can make the rooms seem smaller than they really are. Consider getting a storage unit or having a yard sale in order to free up that occupied space to give buyers the big picture.

10. Dirty Dishes – Everyone has their own standard of cleaning up after dinner, but no one wants to see yesterday’s spaghetti stuck to the plates in the sink. Believe me, I’ve seen it. Be ready to show your home or condo at any time, and leave nothing to distract potential buyers from the main goal.

11. Messy Bathrooms – This one makes me laugh because of a picture that I saw on Facebook one time. There were two pictures side by side. One picture showing a toilet seat up saying “you get mad at me for this? When…”. The next picture showing the entire bathroom counter totally covered with 300 items of make-up, brushes, and mirrors. The moral of this is to keep every room clutter free.

12. Dirty Toilets – While most people can overlook some of the faux pas in a home, some do focus on the details. Bright, shiny, and flushed toilets are a plus to taking the home buyers’ focus where it should be.

13. Carpet Covered Hardwood Floors – We often see this in older homes, but nasty carpet covering beautiful wood floors is a big no- no. If buyers notice this ahead of time, they will look at this as one more job that they will have to do in order to make your house their home.

14. Above-Ground Pools – We had an above-ground pool ourselves at one point, but most buyers won’t appreciate it like you do and may even find it as an eye sore.

15. A Seller Who Hangs Around During Showings – Of course, this is your home, but now you’re trying to sell it. Buyers will always feel a little awkward when they want to open cabinets or closets if you’re hovering around. Give them some space and you’ll have a better chance of getting an offer.

16. Ugly Landscaping – Curb appeal is the buyer’s first impression of your home. Step out to the sidewalk and get the point of view that a buyer would see when they pull up to see your home. This is your neighbor’s perspective. The more work a buyer sees that they have to do to move in the less excited they will be to submit an offer.

17. Plants Growing Out of Gutters – This is just a routine maintenance issue that oftentimes gets overlooked. I mean, who really wants to climb a ladder and pull the tree out of their gutter? Well, you need to or hire someone. These things will pay off.

18. Dimly Lit Rooms – Have you ever said, “Wow, it’s so dark in here”? Buyers will think the same thing. Consider changing bulbs to higher wattage, changing light fixtures, keeping the drapes pulled back, or even brightening up the room with a lighter wall color.

19. Bugs – I have a few stories from my real estate travels on this one, but one that comes to mind is this monster of a roach that looked like a small alien that scared away my clients. There is no place for any type of bug in any home, especially if you’re trying to sell.

20. Hobbies in Over-Drive – This is a highly personalized issue where homeowners like to display items that make them happy. The problem comes in when buyers are spending more time looking at your collections than they are at the home that they will potentially purchase. Some examples of things that you should pack up before showing your home are flags, figurines, your Jim Beam bottle collection, sports memorabilia (Roll Tide), and your animal head trophies. De-personalize and you will sell your home.

One of the joys of home ownership is doing exactly what you want with it; however, in order for you to get top price and to sell your property in a timely fashion, you should try to picture what the masses would want.


About the author: The above Real Estate information on 20 Things That Turn Off Buyers was provided by Jeff Nelson of IXL Real Estate – Eastern Shore. Jeff can be reached via email at jeff@livegulfshoreslocal.com or by phone at 251-654-2523. Jeff has helped people move in and out of properties for nearly 12 years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in Baldwin County including the cities of Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope, Foley, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.