How to Turn Off Potential Home Buyers

how to turn off potential home buyers

As more homes come on the market, you as a seller have more competition. At the same time, buyers often get their first impressions of a home online, and their expectations are higher than ever before. In other words, it’s not exactly easy to appeal to today’s real estate market. Here’s how to turn off potential home buyers and lose a sale.

Make the garage a family room

A family room might be attractive—to a family. But if you’ve sacrificed the garage, the trade-off might be a turn-off, especially to buyers without kids or who live in crowded urban areas where parking is challenging. Even in the suburbs, most people want a covered, secure place to park. A garage also often serves as a place for storage. If you turn your garage into a family room, you’re forcing potential buyers to sacrifice the benefits of having a garage.

Turn a bedroom into something else

You might assume a wine cellar with built-in refrigerators will make your home more attractive. But not everyone is a wine connoisseur. And while many people work from home now at least part-time, that doesn’t mean they want a dedicated home office—especially with built-in desks or bookcases. If you must convert a bedroom into something else, make sure you can easily change it back when you go to sell.

Cover up the hardwood floors

People like hardwood floors. They look cleaner, add a design element, don’t show dirt as much, and consumers with allergies prefer them over carpets. If you have gleaming hardwood floors, show carpet over them. Let the buyer decide if she wants to cover them. It’s easier for her to purchase new carpeting of her choosing than to get past yours.

Go over-the-top with light fixtures

A beautiful chandelier can enliven a dining room. But it can also turn off buyers who prefer simpler, less ornate fixtures. Remember, you want to appeal to the masses when your home is for sale. You want to stand out from a crowded field of sellers—but in the right way.

Turn your kid’s room into a miniature theme park

Little kids have big imaginations. They love Disney characters, spaceships, and superheroes, and their parents are often all-too-willing to turn their rooms into fantasy caves. But the more you transform a child’s bedroom into something resembling a Disneyland ride, the more you’ll turn off most potential buyers. Your buyer might have teenagers, or no children at all. And they’ll see the removal of Little Johnny’s wallpaper, paint or spaceship light fixtures as too much work.

Add an above-ground pool

For most buyers, above-ground pools are an eyesore. Also, they can leave a big dead spot of grass in your backyard—another eyesore. If you must have it, consider dismantling it before going on the market. Of course, be sure you’re ready to sell, or you may be stuck without a place to cool off next summer.

Leave dirty dishes in the sink

If your home is for sale, buyers will be coming through, and you want to impress them. Would you keep dirty dishes in the sink for your in-laws or overnight guests? Probably not. Then why wouldn’t you clean up for potential buyers? Putting your home up for sale, and keeping it on the market, is work. If you aren’t cut out for it, considering holding off until you’re ready to consistently tidy up for buyers.

Make buyers take off their shoes

As an agent, I always hated being forced to take my shoes off in someone else’s home. Not only was it inconvenient, but also I wasn’t happy about my socks picking up a random homeowner’s dirt, pet hair and dust. But when I became a first-time home seller with sparkling new hardwood floors and carpet, I couldn’t imagine allowing dirt and grime from the outside world to dirty up my floors.

So what’s the compromise? Shoe covers from a medical supply store. Buyers and agents don’t need to take off their shoes, simply cover them. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Smoke in every room—for years

The smell of smoke permeates a home, seeping into the carpet, drapes, wood paneling—just about everywhere. It’s a huge turn-off for most buyers today.

If you’re a smoker, seriously consider how you want to present your home to the market. For a long-term smoke-filled home, it means painting, removing carpets, and doing lots of deep cleaning. If you don’t, you shouldn’t expect to get top dollar for your home.

Scatter Fido’s bed and toys everywhere

Dog’s toys, filled with saliva, dirt and dust, can be a sore both for the eyes and the nose. If you have a pet, put a plan in place to move the food and water bowls as well as the toys and dog’s bed to a better location, like the garage.

(Photo of swimming pool by Benny Lin, used without changes from


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