10 Turn-Offs that Can Cost You an Offer

Half the battle of selling a house is convincing a potential buyer it’s as close to move-in ready as possible. This means many of the things that don’t seem like a big deal to you can actually be the nail in the coffin for a buyer.

Here’s a list of some of the biggest deal breakers you should watch out for when selling your house.

1. Showing a room as something other than is. It’s important to remember that what works for you and your family may not work for buyers—and also that humans are simple creatures. Buyers like to be able to picture how their furniture will fit, and seeing a foyer used as a dining room just confuses them. If you converted your garage into extra living space, or use your formal sitting room as a home office, putting things back the way they were could help you snag an offer.

120224e2. Wallpaper. Over the last decade or two, wallpaper has fallen out of favor with buyers. When you think about it, this makes sense on a purely practical level. Tastes vary widely, and the odds that you and your buyer would have picked out the same pattern are pretty much zip. Remove it and paint the walls a neutral color.

3. Wall to wall carpet (over wood floors). If your house is carpeted, you should definitely know what’s underneath. While a clean carpet will do in most cases, the majority of buyers want hardwood. As far as they’re concerned, not putting yours on display is the same thing as not having them at all.

4. An above-ground pool. Not every buyer is a pool person, and of those that are, even fewer are above-ground pool people. To many, they’re an eyesore and a pain to maintain. While taking your pool down may not factor into your getting-ready-to-sell budget, it’s something you should keep in mind.

5. Clutter. Almost no one manages to keep a home looking catalog perfect while also living a normal life. That being said, when you put your house on the market, it’s time to start trying. You don’t want buyers questioning the amount of storage space. Start by removing all the things you don’t need on a day-to-day basis and then turn your eyes to flat surfaces.

6. Getting too attached. It can be tough to let go of a home you’ve made memories in, but once you list it, you have to be ready to look at your house as just a house. This means being realistic about your asking price and stripping as much of your personal photos and items from the place as possible. Buyers can have a difficult time seeing themselves in a house if someone else’s vacation photos are on the wall. Also—don’t hang around for showings. It’s awkward for everyone involved.

Front7. No curb appeal. First impressions count, and if your house looks awful on the outside, buyers may not even make it through the door. Pull those weeds and fix broken walkways and peeling paint. Also remember that a completely barren yard isn’t always much better than an unkempt one—plants and shrubs help a lot.

8. Dirt, grime, and odors. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised the things you stop seeing or smelling when you live in a place for too long. And easy way to get around this is to invite over a friend or family member and ask they’re opinion. They might just be able to spot the stained grout or dusty doorframe you missed. Also, if you smoke or keep indoor pets, it’s probably a safe bet you’ll need to invest in some deep cleaning products.

9. Dark rooms. No one wants to live in a cave, so turn a critical eye to the lighting in your house. Are dark wall colors making your rooms look smaller? Are tree limbs outside your windows blocking your sun? Are your light fixtures too dim? Fixing any of these issues can make your house look completely different from the inside.

10. Popcorn ceilings (and other dated features). You can’t help it if your house is old, but if it looks like it’s still stuck in the seventies, you might get some pushback from buyers. Lucky for you, some of these can be easy fixes. Swapping out dated light fixtures, doorknobs, and cabinet hardware can make a big difference, and popcorn ceilings areactually fairly easy to remove (provided there’s no asbestos).