The One Room That Makes Home Buyers Pass, Even if They Love Your House

When it comes to selling your house, it’s all about the first impression. Today’s buyer is more informed — and pickier — than ever before. They want reclaimed hardwoods and neutral paint colors, and they’re not willing to compromise.

Even when there’s a seller’s market, it’s vital that you stage your home to sell. Realtors recommend taking down personal photos, abolishing clutter, removing furniture, and deep cleaning every single room. But is there one thing lurking in your home that will make potential buyers head for the exit faster than you can say, “make an offer?”

Every buyer has different requirements when it comes to choosing a house. But there are some rooms — and one in particular (page 5) — that are guaranteed to scare buyers away.

1. Empty rooms

Empty Living room in an old building, Apartment with parquet flooring

Your homebuyers won’t be able to see themselves in the home. | ah_fotobox/iStock/Getty Images

Let’s face it — most home buyers aren’t that creative when it comes to imagining the potential. If you have a house full of furnished rooms and one that’s awkwardly empty, it might scare people away for no good reason.

Stage your empty room as an office, guest bedroom, craft space, or even a simple sitting area. A little effort goes a long way to selling your house faster and for more money.

Next: Not even a family of bears will buy a house with these.

2. Dark rooms

Dark bedroom

You’re definitely turning off buyers. | runna10/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Unless you happen to be targeting vampires, showcasing dark, cave-like rooms is a big turnoff for buyers.

Even if your room isn’t full of natural light, you can fake it as much as possible. Open all the curtains and blinds, make sure the walls are painted in light colors, and add a bunch of standing lamps in shadowy corners. One trick for making a room appear bigger is to hang mirrors across from windows to reflect as much light as possible and make the whole room look larger.

Next: When this room has carpet, buyers will run the other direction.

3. Scary bathrooms


All they’re seeing is dollar signs. | Piovesempre/iStock/Getty Images

Bathroom renovations are pricey. Homebuyers won’t necessarily demand high-end finishes, but if your bathroom still has carpeting or mildewed tile in the shower, you’ll need to address those issues before listing your home.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a house you’re not staying in — replace the carpet with peel and stick tile and hire a professional to do a deep clean. The small amount you spend will be worth it when your house sells in a hurry.

Next: It’s easy — and free — to clean up this problem.

4. Cluttered spaces


Your clutter tells buyers there isn’t enough storage. | AG-ChapelHill/iStock/Getty Images

Piles of stuff everywhere sends a message to buyers: where there’s clutter, there’s not enough storage.

Even if you have tons of closet space, an overabundance of disorganized items signals to potential buyers that there’s not enough space to stash everything. Before you put your house on the market, box up anything that’s non-essential and leave your home as sparse as possible to make it appear larger.

Next: This is the room that’s most likely to scare away potential buyers.

5. Outdated kitchens

Old, dated kitchen with wood cabinets, laminate counters and old appliances

An outdated kitchen is a huge turnoff for buyers. | oneillbro/iStock/Getty Images

The biggest turnoff for buyers is the one that makes them see the most dollar signs.

A full-scale kitchen renovation costs anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000, making it the priciest area to remodel in your home. Most homebuyers know that undertaking a kitchen renovation is so much more than just slapping on a coat of paint, and unless you happen to have a money tree growing in the backyard, they may not be willing to make that kind of commitment.

Your best bet? Update the kitchen as much as you’re able by doing simple things like replacing countertops, painting cabinets, and upgrading the lighting. Even these cheap fixes could be the difference between a sale and a pass.

Next: The buyer might be frightened of this space.

6. Scary basements

Scary unfinished Basement Pipes

Don’t make them think your basement is haunted. | Marbury/iStock/Getty Images

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about a dark and windowless basement. If there are windows, make sure they aren’t blocked by mountains of boxes. Treat your basement like you would any other room of the house and make sure it’s clean and presentable before your first showing.

Next: Help buyers imagine living in your house by clearing out this space.

7. Overstuffed closets

Overstuffed clothing in wardrobe or closet

Only keep the essentials in your closet. | DLMcK/iStock/Getty Images

Like cluttered rooms, overstuffed closets make it look like your house is too small even if it isn’t. Pack up most of your items prior to putting your house on the market. Your goal should be a completely empty closet where potential buyers can imagine storing all of their own things.

Read more: 7 Reasons Why You Still Can’t Sell Your House

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