Home Buyer Turn-Offs: 3 Ways to Make Buyers Run Screaming from Your Home

buyer turn-offs

When staging your home for sale, it’s important to create an atmosphere that promotes peace, tranquility, and respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. You want buyers to linger and visualize the lifestyle they could lead if they lived in a home like yours. Yet even in the most beautifully styled house, buyers will run screaming if it’s too hot, smells like an ashtray, or has 4 or 5 cats traipsing about. Learn these three surefire buyer turn-offs that will have folks heading for the hills:

  • Strong smells. We all become “nose-blind” to some degree when it comes to the smells in our own homes. Cigarette smoke, pet odors, food, and mildew are the most common offenders I find in clients’ homes. Eliminate odors completely to avoid distracting buyers. You want a buyer thinking “How soon can I move in?” not “How soon can I get out of here and wash this smell out of my hair and clothes?!”
    • Curious about using air fresheners? Not always a good idea. Read our article on Scents That Sell.
    • Tip: Textiles can hold smells. If you have lingering odors, try laundering, cleaning, or removing possible culprits (carpets, rugs, curtains, pillows, pet beds).
  • Uncomfortable temperature. Take the outside weather into account, and make sure the temperature inside your house is comfortable for buyers — around 72 degrees F. If you typically keep your home warmer or cooler than most people find comfortable — either for cost savings or your own personal comfort — be sure to adjust the temperature prior to any showings. Buyers will walk out of a home that’s stiflingly warm or freezing cold, sight unseen.
  • Unruly pets. A “for sale” home should convey an atmosphere of relaxation from the moment a potential buyer steps in the door. Barking dogs, overly friendly cats, or squawking parrots do not promote relaxation and can be major buyer turn-offs. Nervous animals create nervous buyers. Whenever possible, completely remove animals from the home during showings. If it’s not possible, be sure animals are safely secured in an area that will be minimally distracting to potential buyers. While you’re at it, hide or eliminate as much evidence of pets as possible (e.g, litter boxes, food dishes, pet beds, cages) prior to showings.

It’s nearly impossible to be objective about smells, temperature, or your fur babies. Ask a professional home stager, your Realtor, or a friend you trust to be brutally honest with you, LISTEN to what they have to say, and make adjustments. Don’t risk losing a sale because of something that’s simple to correct!

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About Vannessa Rhoades
About Vannessa Rhoades

Vannessa Rhoades is the author of Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging: Second Edition and founder of Three Bears Home Staging®. She is an HSR Certified Professional Home Stager™ and Certified Expert E-Designer™ and has staged and consulted on hundreds of properties in person throughout the Houston metro area and virtually across the country.


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