If you’re getting ready to sell your home, there’s a good chance that you’re overwhelmed by all of the information that’s how there. From how to stage your home to how to prepare your property, it can feel like there’s a million things to do! 

While you can’t transform a rancher into a Victorian, you do have more control over how your home is presented than you may realize. But in order to prioritize and know that buyers are looking for… you have to know exactly what turns buyers off. 

Here are 6 big-time turn-offs that will send buyers running in the opposite direction.

1. Cluttered, dirty and/or "fragrant" houses. 

Every seller knows exactly what we mean by this. When countertops are covered in clutter, toilet seats haven’t been cleaned, and litter boxes are left unattended, it’s hard for potential buyers to see past it. Never show your home when it’s messy! Make sure laundry and dishes are put away, the countertops are freshly wiped down, mail and paperwork are all organized and put away, and smelly dogs and litter boxes are clean or out of the house! Get the whole family involved in doing their part to make sure your home shines! 

2. Overpriced home. 

In today’s market, buying a house is no easy task! The last thing a buyer wants to worry about it talking a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing. If a buyer sees sellers who are clueless about their home’s value, they might not even bother looking at it. If they do like it, they might wait for your home to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will show you that you need to lower the price.

In the end, yes—you decide what to ask for your home. But don’t waste the professional advice and expertise of your real estate agent! It’s their job to point you to other properties in your area as an example of what your home will sell for. 

Buying a house in today's market is hard work! The last thing a buyer wants to add to their task list is trying to argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing.

When buyers see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home's value and has priced it sky-high, many won't even bother looking at it. If they do love it, they'll wait for it to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will "educate you" into desperation to later make lowball offer. Worried about setting the price too low? Request your home's value first. Also get buyer's brokers' feedback and work with your agent on an advance plan for bringing the price down if you get no showings or buyer interest.

3. Deceptive listing descriptions or pictures. 

Keep this important fact in mind: You will ultimately not be able to trick someone into buying your home. Even if you edit the photos of your home, buyers will always see your home eventually and learn the truth! If your neighborhood is described as “funky and vibrant” because the house is under the train tracks and you live in between a wrecking yard and a biker bar, buyers will inevitably figure this out.

4. New, bad, home improvements. 

Oftentimes, a buyer will tour a home that has clearly been remodeled and upgraded in anticipation of selling, only to have their heart sink. Maybe the brand new floors are bright blue—the buyer’s least favorite color. Maybe the new, pristine countertops are covered in pink tile… when the buyer loves marble. 

New home improvements that a buyer doesn’t like can be a big turn off. Buyers often aren’t able to justify ripping out expensive, brand new improvements just on the basis of style—especially if they feel like the home is more expensive because of these newer upgrades. 

Before you make a huge investment in a pre-sale remodel of your home, check in with a local broker or real estate agent. They can give you a reality check about the return on your investment, and help you decide which projects to do. Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal. They also know what buyers are looking for, and can help you choose more neutral options. 

5. Bad listing photos or no photos at all. 

Of course, it will be hard to attract buyers to even look at your home in the first place if your listing photos are bad! There are so many listing photos out there that are shockingly bad. And of course, it will never help you attract buyers if you have NO listing photos at all! 

Before you select a real estate agent, ask to see the way they are marketing their current listings online. And once your home is on the market, check to see the photos to make sure they present your home in its best light!