8 red flags putting off buyers when you're selling a house

No matter how much you entice buyers, these things will leave a lasting impression

Exterior of a red brick detached house with tiled roof
(Image credit: David Giles)

If you're selling a house – or are thinking about putting your home on the market – the last thing you want is to put a buyer off with something that can easily be avoided.

When preparing to sell a house, we tend to be heavily preoccupied with wanting to add value to our home. However, no matter how much you glam up your space for potential buyers, you might be surprised at how it's actually the little things that will make it or break it for them.

It's not enough to simply avoid pointless home improvements that won't add value to your home, in fact, these issues are a lot more basic than that.

Exterior of a red brick detached house with tiled roof

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Things that will put off buyers when you're selling a house

Daniel Copley, consumer expert at Zoopla says, 'When your home is on the market, you'll want to give it the best possible chance of selling. It can help to view it with fresh eyes from the perspective of a buyer.'

Here are the things that will likely put off buyers, so you can avoid them.

1. Clutter

It's time to bust out your go-to storage and organisation ideas for this one.

'It may be obvious, but remove clutter and clear crowded spaces,' advises Daniel Copley at Zoopla. 'In fact, some sellers are now investing in temporary storage so they can ship out larger pieces of furniture – making their home feel more spacious and allowing buyers to picture their own belongings in situ.'

In this case, it might be worth figuring out how to organise your self-storage unit while you're at it.

Blue alcove with built-in storage

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

2. Kerb appeal

'Many sellers underestimate the impact of their home's exterior,' says Daniel Copley at Zoopla. 'Buyers will be forming opinions on your home even as they walk up your street. Kerb appeal is very much living and kicking.'

red brick mid terraced house with white windows and turquoise front door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Bold wallpaper and trendy paint finishes

While you may love your bold feature wall ideas, they won't always hit the spot for every potential buyer.

'Wallpaper is usually extremely personal to the homeowner and often it is patterned,' explains Elaine Penhaul, director of professional home staging company, Lemon and Lime Interiors.

'This can often clash with a prospective buyer seeing the potential of the room as it is often too bespoke to the furnishings and people living within the current space.'

Not to mention the hard labour involved to remove wallpaper and get the room to the potential buyer's own taste. At that point, they probably won't bother.

Dressing table with ikea shelves

(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Lee)

4. Lack of maintenance

Some buyers will be put off by the idea of any DIY. Robin Chatwin at Savills recommends running a quick maintenance check throughout your home prior to a visit from a potential buyer.

Go on, replace that lightbulb and fix that loose door handle.

Three pendant lights suspended from a ceiling with two wooden shelves in the background

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Lack of attention to detail

When preparing your house for selling, it's best to get stuck into a spring clean so you don't miss any precious corner of your home. Tackle the limescale build-up in your bathroom and dust and wipe down every room.

Cream utility room with cleaning supplies

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Lack of garden upkeep

Cleaning up your garden sounds like a task and a half (trust me, it is) but it's well worth it in making your house more sellable. Mow the lawn, cut back any trees and bushes, and clean your garden furniture.

garden room with lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC / Clare Lloyd-Davis)

7. Damp and mould

'Damp is probably the biggest turn-off when a potential buyer is viewing a property,' warns Tim Leonard, personal finance expert at NerdWallet. It's so crucial that you tackle how to get rid of damp prior to any viewings and treat it properly.

'Fail to address the issue and it is not only likely to reduce buyer interest, but could also come back to haunt you on a survey.'

Large white window with blue blinds and flowers on top of windowsill

(Image credit: Future PLC)

8. Temperature

First impressions matter, people. Not only is kerb appeal important, but the temperature of your home as well, in building a favourable impression from a potential buyer.

'The optimum level of comfort in regards to temperature can help avoid bad impressions, and also questions about whether the heating system works properly,' assures Tim Leonard at NerdWallet.

radiator in white room with plants

(Image credit: Future PLC / Hannah Argyle)

We know it's virtually impossible to run the perfect home, but it pays to ensure you're not accidentally making any of these crucial mistakes that are easily avoidable in your pursuit to sell your house.

We wish you the best of luck!

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike. 

With contributions from