What Turns Off Potential Buyers?

Selling a home isn’t an exact science, but there are some universal truths that prevent some homes from attracting buyers. Bankrate.com surveyed real estate experts and came up with 10 things that turn off prospective homebuyers. For those who are selling their homes, this list is vital reading. When a stranger is viewing your property for the very first time, every little advantage helps, so jot down the items on the list that especially pertain to your situation. Ranked from 1 to 10, in order of importance, the turn-offs are:

Dirt, Grime and Smelly Carpets

The experts point out that if owners do nothing else to prep their homes for sale, they should do a thorough cleaning of all floors, carpets and walls. Dirt and smells are bad. Clean and fresh is good.


Odors are basically categorized as a form of intangible dirt, so whether it’s pets or tobacco smoke, get rid of it before anyone takes the tour. Lingering food smells are a part of this category as well, so make sure your kitchen and dining areas are fresh and odor free.

Old Appliances and Fixtures

If your doorknobs, ceiling fans and light fixtures look like leftovers from the disco era, consider replacing them. It’s a smart idea to ditch the outdated appliances as well. A moderate investment in new fixtures and appliances will boost your selling power.


The expert team essentially gave a four-word piece of advice about wallpaper: Get rid of it. Buyers either don’t like wallpaper or want their own.

Popcorn Acoustic Ceilings

Same rule applies here as for wallpaper: Get rid of it, or be ready to make some price concessions, because no one seems to want this stuff on their ceilings anymore.

An Abundance of Personal Items

Prospective buyers want to see “their” potential home, not yours. Decorations, photos and similar homey touches are a distraction for viewers and should be minimized. If you still live in your home while it’s on the market, this can be a challenge, but make the effort to reduce the personal stuff and you will sell your home faster.

“Hang-Around” Sellers

People shopping for new homes prefer to view properties without the current owners on the premises. That’s a euphemism for, “Get out of your house before the potential buyers show up. They don’t want to see you. They want to see the house.”

Misrepresented Homes

Don’t oversell or mislead in your ad. That is a sure-fire way to immediately turn off a buyer who sees a home that does not match the photo or description. Be honest, and if anything, slightly undersell the property in your ad. That way, when viewers show up, they will be pleasantly surprised.

Bad Curb Appeal

Have the lawn done and the bushes trimmed. Anything that makes the first look a winner will help you sell a home quickly. Make the yard the best it can be.


When you show a cluttered house to buyers, it screams “not enough room for your stuff” to all viewers. People want open space and need to see what the place looks like without all your stuff in it. Be wise and remove all the extraneous junk and clutter before someone walks in for a tour.

Few sellers are guilty of all 10 turn-offs, so spend some time focusing on what applies to you. Then, eliminate the turn-offs so you can turn on prospective buyers with a sparkling clean, clutter-free home.

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