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6 Things That Can Scare Off Potential Homebuyers

By Valencia Higuera

neglected houseIf you’re trying to sell your home, a competitive housing market can be your worst nightmare. There may be similar homes for sale in your area, and if these homes are priced lower than yours, it can take months to find a buyer for your place. However, price isn’t the only thing you have to worry about.

Homebuyers can be extremely particular, and before they make an offer on any property, they’re likely to inspect every nook and cranny. Of course, no home is perfect. Minor scratches on your floor and chipped paint aren’t likely to cause a stir. However, there are certain things that can make homebuyers think twice about purchasing your home.

Things That Scare Off Homebuyers

1. Old, Outdated Windows
There is nothing cheap about replacing old windows. If you’re selling, you might decide to let the new owners worry about them. Big mistake. Experienced homebuyers know how to look for things that may drain their wallet, such as outdated windows. And if you’re dealing with first-time homebuyers, their real estate agent may bring certain things to their attention.

Broken window locks, a buildup of condensation on windows, and window cracks aren’t a good look for your house. Examine your personal finances to see if you can spend money on better windows. The cost of new windows for an average-sized home can run between $7,000 and $20,000. You don’t have to purchase top of the line windows, but you should consider energy-efficient alternatives. If you can’t spend this money out-of-pocket, consider adjusting your asking price to compensate for dated windows.

2. Water Stains
Mold is by far one of the biggest deal-breakers in real estate, and if potential homebuyers detect water stains on your ceiling and walls, they’re likely to head for the door. Past water damage doesn’t necessarily indicate a mold problem, especially if you catch water leaks early and properly dry the area. Although a professional mold inspection may determine that your house is 100% mold-free, those who walk through your home may think otherwise if you leave evidence of past water damage.

It doesn’t cost much or take long to paint over water stains. A fresh coat of paint can allay unnecessary worries and spruce up your space.

3. Odors
It doesn’t matter if your home is beautifully decorated, odors are going to stop buyers at the door. This includes pet odors, cigarette smoke, or any other unpleasant smells. Unfortunately, it can be hard to detect odors in your own home. If the odor has been present for days, weeks or months, you’re probably accustomed to the scent. This is where an outsider’s opinion counts.

Don’t brush off odors – get to the root of the problem. A musty odor can indicate a mold problem, in which a mold removal company is needed. Fortunately, replacing carpet or professionally cleaning it can alleviate some odors. Other remedies for household odors include giving the house a new coat of paint and opening windows and doors so that fresh air can circulate. And if you detect odors in your furniture and other fabrics (pillows, drapes, and blankets), wash or remove these items from the home.

house with a mold problem

4. Limited Storage Space
You may have the right price and the ideal location, but if your house lacks suitable storage space, this can scare off homebuyers. Inadequate storage space is a common problem in older homes. And while you can’t stretch your house and increase the square footage, you can make good use of the space available.

Limiting clutter is key to maximizing closet space. Sell or donate things you don’t need, such as clothes, shoes, and boxes. Bring in shelving to better organize your space. Potential homebuyers shouldn’t be greeted by an overflow of stuff when they open your closet or pantry doors. They may conclude that the house doesn’t offer enough storage space and move on. If you don’t have space for everything you need, temporarily rent a storage unit to hold personal belongings until the house sells.

5. Signs of Insects
Every house deals with the occasional spider, ant, or cricket. Just because these are common household pests, though, doesn’t mean a homebuyer wants to see them on a walk-through. Granted, you can’t control when pests make their presence known. However, you can control how often they invade your house.

Contact a pest control company and schedule a treatment, or spray the outside perimeter of your house and interior baseboards with bug spray. This can stop a summer invasion of ants and kill a spider in its tracks. Also, schedule a termite inspection to make sure your house is clear. The smallest sign of a pest problem can send buyers running.

6. No Recent Upgrades
Homebuyers love move-in ready homes – this means fewer out-of-pocket expenses for them. The more home improvements you have made, the better. Kitchen and bathrooms are the best projects to invest in when trying to sell your home. Whether you bring in new appliances, update cabinets and countertops, or install new floors, minor changes here and there make a big difference.

If it has been 20 years since your last home remodel, potential buyers may walk through the house and mentally calculate how much it’s going to cost to modernize the space. Buying a house is already expensive, with down payments and closing costs, and some buyers don’t have the bankroll to invest in upgrades. They may decide to make an offer on a comparable house with modern features, even if it’s more expensive.

Final Word

A lack of buyer interest in your home can be puzzling and frustrating. You might take every measure to improve the look and functionality of your house, but to no avail. It’s important that you think like a buyer and take a long, honest look around. This often requires a fresh pair of eyes – ask your real estate agent for advice and request feedback from buyers who tour your house. It’s easy to overlook these problems on your own.

What other problems may cause you to pass on a property for sale?

Valencia Higuera
Valencia Higuera is a personal finance junkie who enjoys reading articles on budgeting, saving money, and credit cards. She has written personal finance articles and blogs for several online publications. She holds a B.A in English from Old Dominion University and currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia.

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Comments

  • http://www.onesmartdollar.com/ Sean @ One Smart Dollar

    For my odors was the biggest turn off when we were looking at homes. If the place smells then there is a good chance they were not as clean as the place might currently be showing.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    We saw a number of these things when we were house shopping several years ago. The odor thing really was a big one for us because it made us wonder how often the place was cleaned and what else there might’ve been that wasn’t good.

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