What are the 10 biggest turn-offs for home buyers?

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What are the 10 biggest turn-offs for home buyers?

Buying GPEA 25th October 2018


When it comes to selling your property, making a good first impression is imperative. Our Guild agents share their expertise and identify the top 10 biggest turn-offs for prospective buyers and how to avoid them.

1. Clutter

Clutter is not only distracting, but it could indicate that the property does not have adequate storage. 

Nick Manson from Mansons Newcastle upon Tyne said: “De-cluttering is a great way to increase your chances of completing a sale, but that doesn’t mean that you have to part with your prized possessions. You can box them up and store them in the loft or garage. If this is not an option, ask family or friends to store them. Failing that, there is always the option of self-storage.”

Creating a clutter-free, minimalistic environment will help buyers visualize themselves living in your home. Additionally, too much furniture can make a property seem a lot smaller than it is. 

2. Smells

No matter how pleasant your home appears, persistent odours such as the smell of pets, cigarettes, or pungent food can be detrimental when it comes to selling your property.

Simon Bradbury from Thomas Morris Cambridgeshire explains: “An unpleasant odour is sure to put off a prospective purchaser or tenant. Whether it’s the whiff of stale food, pets or even something more… ‘human’… make sure that your property is free of unwanted smells. Ask a trusted friend to give your home a ‘sniff test’!”

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so we suggest opening your windows to air out your property before a viewing and use air freshener or light a candle to ensure your home doesn’t smell unpleasant.

3. An untidy exterior

Overgrown, unkempt gardens are a big no-no. Abby Wheeler from Keats Estate Agents Haslemere said: “The first thing viewers see is the exterior. Ensure your bins are not overflowing and your pathway is weed free. Do whatever you can to make your home feel inviting from the outset. Don’t forget, our viewers have probably already done a drive-by before making an appointment.”

4. Noise

Most people expect their home to be a place of peace and tranquility. It may not always be preventable, but there are steps you can take to reduce unwanted noise from your property.

Mandy Thomas from Keats Estate Agents Haslemere said: “Upgrade your glazing or install sound proof fencing. Alternatively, try to avoid organising viewings at busy times of the day such as rush hour, when traffic will be particularly bad.”

5. No natural light

Light and warmth are two of the most important factors to attract a buyer for your home, especially in the colder months of the year. Angie Kraft from Simmons & Sons Henley-on-Thames explains: “A cold or poorly lit home can be an instant turn-off  to potential buyers by making the property appear dingy and dark in places. If this is the case, it gives the impression of a house that is unloved and uncared for.”

Resolving this issue can be simple. Philip Trollen from Keats Estate Agents Haslemere said: “Natural light is very important as dark rooms are always off-putting. Ensuring the room is well lit, whether that be naturally or with staged lighting is quite simple to do. Make sure the curtains are open and remove those net curtains!”

6. Bad décor

Avoid controversial or quirky décor in your home as it is not to everyone’s taste. What you think is retro, others may consider dated. Bold colours and patterns can turn-off a prospective buyer, as it is important for them to see themselves living there and décor plays a huge part in this.

Simon Miller from Holroyd Miller Wakefield said: “Replace heavily patterned retro carpets, when purchasers are greeted with such a carpet all they see is decades of dirt and grim – I can guarantee the viewer will want to leave as soon as they’ve stepped through the door.”

7. Nightmare neighbours

Nobody enjoys noisy or messy neighbours, especially not a potential buyer. This is something you cannot change, but it is something you can manage. Whether their garden hasn’t been cleaned in years, or their pet dogs incessantly bark, get to know your neighbour and perhaps they may be able to help. If all else fails, organising viewings for when they are not home might be beneficial, too.

8. Poor presentation

Poor attention to detail such as: flaking paint on soffits, grubby kitchen units, tatty net curtains, unemptied ashtrays and nicotine stained walls are taken into consideration when viewing a property.

Lizanne Simmons from Penny & Sinclair Oxford said: “First impressions are massive and we often find ourselves apologising for the sights of the less cared for properties. We always arrive early to a viewing to open the windows, curtains, close the lids to the toilets and pull a duvet into position here and there.”

Simon Bradbury from Thomas Morris Cambridgeshire said: “Dirty kitchens or bathrooms are not a nice thought and certainly not something that a viewer will want to see. My best advice: have the property professionally cleaned before going to market.”

Small and affordable fixes such as: freshening up the paint work, or having your home professionally cleaned will make a world of difference and worth it in the long run.

9. An unexpected problem

Martin Moore from Morris Marshall & Poole Mid Wales said: “There is nothing worse for a viewer than turning up to find there is a significant issue with a property which they were not aware of such as a structural defect, a problem with something in the neighbourhood or compromised accommodation. It is a wise precaution to maintain compliance with Consumer Protection Regulations, but it also makes good business sense – the viewers are more trusting of us and willing to discuss the issues and the available solutions.

10. An over zealous vendor

It is common for a vendor to want to take part in the viewing or show off their DIY aspects of the property. However, vendors being present at viewings may not always be a good thing. 

Stephen Ingram from Penny & Sinclair Oxford said: “A seller that follows the viewer around is never well-received. With the best intentions, those scenarios always highlight why it’s best to leave it to your agent.”

Take a step back and let your agent do the work, it is their job after all and you will thank them later.


Are you looking to sell your home? Contact your local Guild Member for help through the moving process.