21 reasons people don’t want to buy your home

The biggest property deal-breakers – and what to do about them

<p>Urban Front</p>

Urban Front

House hunters are a fickle bunch. According to research, it takes the average person fewer than 10 minutes to decide whether they want to buy a place or not, which doesn't give you a lot of time to win them over.

Luckily, there are plenty of property experts out there willing to share their insider secrets. Read on to discover the top 21 things that deter buyers and how to rectify them, so that you can get your home off the market in record time.

Poor maintenance



When someone steps inside your home for the first time, you don't want the first thing they see to be poorly maintained rooms. "If a house viewer sees that you’re not taking care of the little details about your home, like seeing dents or scuffs on the walls, chips or bubbles in the paint, wobbly door handles etc. they’re going to wonder about the standard you keep the rest of the house in," real estate agency, Richard James, confirms. "It’s always a good idea to take care of these little things, as they all add up in the bigger picture."

A lack of natural light

<p>English Blinds</p>

English Blinds

As a seller, you'll want to showcase your home in its best light – quite literally! Natural light is a huge selling point. After all, no one likes dark and dingy rooms. So, before any viewings, open your blinds or curtains and remove any clutter that might be blocking light from filtering inside.

Richard James also suggests turning all lights on when your house is being viewed, are all your bulbs working? "Remember, a house viewer doesn’t know the reasons why you haven’t changed the bulb in a room you hardly ever use [...] and might think there is an electrical issue or assume there are other maintenance issues that haven’t been addressed."

Out-of-date major appliances

<p>Worcester Bosch</p>

Worcester Bosch

Major home appliances can be expensive to replace, so if a potential buyer spots an old-fashioned boiler or a refrigerator that hasn't been replaced for decades, they might immediately be put off. The boiler is perhaps the bigger one for house hunters, as real estate agency, Leaders, explains: "Buyers need to feel confident that they won’t be let down by an old, broken or inefficient heating system during the winter. So, if you’re thinking of selling, it might be time for an upgrade."

Plus, according to GoCompare’s Property Investment Calculator, 37% of people buying a new home want a new boiler or central heating system. Installing one could also add 4% to the value of your home.

Noisy neighbours

<p>I Wei Huang / Shutterstock</p>

I Wei Huang / Shutterstock

There's not much you can do about having noisy neighbours, but they could certainly put buyers off. Even worse, undesirable neighbours can reduce the value of a property by as much as 10%, according to Winkworth estate agents.

"You must declare any neighbour disputes when selling your home," they explain. "If you don’t, you risk being sued later when past problems come to light." Instead, they recommend investing in soundproofing measures. Short on cash? Focus on the rooms that are most affected by the noise.

Extreme temperatures



According to real estate agency, Leaders, a "property that is too hot or too cold is sure to make buyers feel uncomfortable" and "might even lead to questions about whether your heating system works."

That might be all it takes for your would-be buyer to walk away without signing on the dotted line. So, ensure your home is set to an ambient, comfortable temperature before any viewings take place.

Inflexible viewings



Being inflexible with house viewings will immediately reduce the pool of people who can to visit. "It’s important to be open to showing your home at different times to accommodate buyers’ schedules," McGrew Real Estate explains.

It's always advisable to visit a house during the day and in the evening, to get a sense of what the area is like at different times, so be open to anyone wanting to do so, it could be a sign that they're keen!

No off-street parking

<p>Urban Front</p>

Urban Front

Driveways are very important to house hunters. In fact, a 2017 study found that 84% of Brits said they wouldn’t buy a house that didn't have one. A lack of off-street parking, or any kind of garage, was also named the eighth-biggest turn-off for buyers. Reports have found that homes with off-street parking can fetch up to 13% more than similar properties without.

Therefore, estate agents suggest adding a parking space if you can. However, you need to bear in mind that doing so could be costly and you may need planning permission if a new entrance point is required.

Bold or brash-coloured rooms

<p>Pooky Lighting</p>

Pooky Lighting

Our homes reflect our personal tastes, so it makes sense that some house hunters might not be as into your interior style as you are. "When it comes to appealing to a wide buying audience you want to go more neutral," Richard James explains.

After all, you’re trying to show the potential of the place by allowing buyers to envision what they could do with the space. If your rooms are too visually stimulating, prospective buyers might not be able to do so. "A can of white paint might make all the difference in a sale or a bump in the selling price."


<p>Halfpoint / Shutterstock</p>

Halfpoint / Shutterstock

Bold interior design will stop buyers from being able to visualise their belongings in a home, but so will clutter. Think 'less is more'. Clutter makes your home seem smaller and can be difficult for buyers to see past. If your rooms are looking a little overcrowded, consider having a clear-out or hiding everything away where it won't be seen. It will make packing up and moving easier anyway!

But don't go too far, you'll need the rooms to look 'lived in' and show buyers what life could be like in their new home. As Zillow says: "empty homes don't give off a warm and welcoming vibe."

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Over-personalised décor



In the same way that clutter and bold interior design can stop people from seeing how they could make your house their own, so can overly personalised rooms. If your property is full to bursting with family photos and trinkets from your travels, buyers might be discouraged from buying it.

It's best to keep photos, ornaments and personal items on display to a minimum. If you have a gallery wall filled with personal pics, consider switching them for fun artwork that compliments your décor.

A lack of storage



A lack of storage isn't just annoying, it can deter people from buying your home. If they walk around and notice that there's nowhere for them to hang their coats, store their shoes or place their bags, they might be out of the door in a flash.

So, as well as decluttering your home, it's a good idea to organise rooms to show that there's plenty of space for someone to store their belongings.

A dirty home

<p>New Africa / Shutterstock</p>

New Africa / Shutterstock

It goes without saying that a dirty house is an uninviting house and grime, dust and dirt certainly won't help prospective buyers envisage themselves living in your place.

Before you book any viewings, be sure to give your interior the once over. Vacuum the floors, dust all surfaces, clean the dishes, tidy away any toys and ensure your bathroom is sparkly clean. If it seems overwhelming, you can even call in the professionals to help you.

Bad smells

<p>Naked Kitchens</p>

Naked Kitchens

Many of us are 'nose-blind' to the scent of our own homes, but unpleasant odours could easily put people off. In fact, a 2022 survey found that smelly homes are deterring more than three-quarters of homebuyers from putting in an offer, with Mark Reading, founder of Houses Network stating that "the smell of a property is one of the first things a buyer comments on" since it "indicates whether a property has been well looked after" or not.

With this in mind, avoid cooking anything too fragrant before viewings, take out the trash and perhaps make sure your pet and its bedding are freshly washed. The scent from an air freshener, flowers or a fresh loaf of bread could go a long way, too.

Damaged fixtures and fittings

<p>Steve Mann / Shutterstock</p>

Steve Mann / Shutterstock

Got a kitchen cupboard hanging off its hinges, a curtain rail that's coming away from the wall, or a broken fence that you've been meaning to repair? Well, before you list your home for sale you might want to get around to those annoying home jobs.

Damaged fixtures and fittings can quickly deter buyers, who will immediately think about how much all the repairs might cost. So, replace blown lightbulbs, remove broken furniture and make sure anything that's currently looking a little worse for wear is taken care of.

An unfriendly owner



Some sellers like to be there when prospective buyers visit their home, but this can be unappealing to people. Zillow says, "It's considered a faux pas for sellers to be present during showings at their home, as it can make buyers feel uncomfortable." It’s best to use an agent who can carry out viewings for you and point out all its best features. They can also provide honest feedback from viewers.

If you want to be there to show people around, then it's vital that you're polite and open with them, answering any questions they might have.

Signs of damp and mould

<p>Afanasiev Andrii / Shutterstock</p>

Afanasiev Andrii / Shutterstock

Vince Courtney, a property expert at online estate agency, Purplebricks, revealed the top turn-offs for house hunters and, unsurprisingly, mould and damp patches came in at number one. "According to our research, it would put nearly three in four (75%) potential buyers off choosing your home," he said.

Damp indicates that there could be a major issue with insulation, ventilation and the overall structural integrity of your home. "If you have any damp or mould patches or stains, you should address the issue effectively," Richard James suggests. "Don’t just try and cover them up, as that will lead to further issues with the buyer down the line."

Poor security



Before buying a property, house hunters will want to know it's safe. So, if your place appears to have poor security, you could quickly deter buyers. At the same time, you don't want to create the impression that your home is a fortress. In fact, a front door with multiple security locks was named as a turn-off for house hunters in a recent study reports The Independent.

Too much security could easily lead people to believe your neighbourhood is unsafe, or that you've previously had issues with break-ins. The best thing to do is fix any broken locks or windows and ensure the garden is secure, especially if your house is located on a busy road.

An untidy garden

<p>Little Greene</p>

Little Greene

If your garden is poorly maintained, buyers could be led to believe you've been neglecting the whole house. "A messy garden is off-putting for everyone. On the other hand, a garden that’s well cared for and used as an extension of the living space is a major attraction," estate agency, Winkworth, suggests. It’s worth putting some work into your garden before listing, so tidy up, add some attractive seasonal plants and maybe create a sitting or dining area too.

It isn't just your garden that could deter people, either. Vince Courtney of Purplebricks confirms that "the state of your neighbour's garden could have an impact on people viewing your home." Offering to help them with a spot of gardening could make all the difference.

A lack of good photos

<p>Furniture And Choice</p>

Furniture And Choice

Real estate listings have the power to influence whether someone will take the time to visit your home in person, so if your listing lacks good-quality photographs, you'll be falling at the first hurdle.

"Most property searches start online, so instructing an estate agent that will take plenty of high-quality photos of your home is a must," Leaders says. "You only have a moment to catch people’s eye as they scroll through listings, so fantastic pictures that show your home at its best are essential."

Poor or out-of-date wiring

<p>Grigvovan / Shutterstock</p>

Grigvovan / Shutterstock

Poor or older electrical wiring or systems will impact your home sale. Buyers could be put off, or see it as an opportunity to negotiate a lower price. Wiring systems that have been in place for a long time are also one of the leading causes of house fires, which could drive up the cost of your home insurance, so it's best to get them checked over and updated before you put your home on the market.

Your home should be wired to receive higher modern-day electrical currents. Older homes used far less and were built to a lower capacity, which will struggle to support the number of electrical fixtures, appliances, and the general electrical load that today’s homeowners require. And speaking of electrics, try to have multiple sockets in every room, in convenient locations.

Poor kerb appeal

<p>Urban Front</p>

Urban Front

Since it takes most people just eight minutes to be turned off a property (reported by The Independent), a poor exterior finish will instantly deter buyers before they've even stepped inside. So, it's essential that you get your kerb appeal just right.

First impressions are critical. Painting the front door, mowing the lawn, tidying the path, trimming bushes and clearing away rubbish or bins are good ways to improve kerb appeal.