Sutton Quantum

Top Home Buyer Turnoffs

For some home sellers, receiving constructive criticism about the look and feel of their home can be hard to hear.  It can feel personal when you get unsolicited advice about what not to do or what to change before selling, but in this market it’s so important for sellers to equip themselves with every possible advantage. With a little bit of time and hardly any money you can easily correct any issues that may deter a potential buyer - BEFORE you put your home on the market. Curious? Read on!

Dirt, Grime & Bugs

Also known as the Trifecta of Filth. You would think that having an immaculate house before a showing would be a no-brainer, right? You’d be surprised at how often this crucial step goes unnoticed. Kitchens and bathrooms are the biggest culprits, so make sure to pay close attention to tidying grout, countertops, and sinks in these areas right before a showing. If nothing else, make sure your home is spotless from top to bottom, and consider investing in a professional deep-clean. If you’re serious about selling your home, this extra work is a must!


Home odours are the number one turnoff for potential home buyers. The worst part? Your home may smell without you even knowing it. Cigarette smoke, pets, cooking odours and mildew can form a dizzying cocktail of scents - none of which will entice a buyer to commit. Common sense comes into play here - if you know you’re going to have a showing, maybe hold off on cooking your famous pan-seared garlic salmon the day before. Ask someone who doesn’t live there to come over and take a whiff - and take it personally if they tell you the truth! Try to avoid air fresheners or perfume that may only mask the scent and could potentially be more offensive. Once again, it may be worth investing in professional cleaning to make it smell fresh and clean.

Pets Wandering

This may be controversial to some, so bear with us. If you have a cat or dog they’re probably your best friend, but keep in mind that many people are irritated, allergic, or frightened of animals and won’t react well to having them walking about the house. Instead of keeping them in a room that the viewer then won’t be able to inspect, see if you can keep your pets elsewhere during a showing - either at a friend’s house or at a kennel - or at the very least, keep them in a crate for the duration of a showing.

Dim Lighting

You know the expression “mood lighting?” Not quite what you’re going for, but be aware of the kind of mood the lighting in your home sets. Buyers want to see a home that is bright and vibrant, so great lighting is key. Go through your home and replace any dim or dead lightbulbs, and consider bringing in extra lighting fixtures if necessary.If you have small or minimal windows, you can still make the most of what natural light you do have by removing heavy drapes, making sure windows are clean, and repainting certain rooms in bright, neutral shades. Trim back any branches or shrubbery that block out sunlight, and if possible replace any double-pane windows with broken seals (look for a foggy residue on windows that you can’t clean away).


You may be seeing an upswing in the number of homes that have wallpaper, but for many buyers this trend will be lost on them and all they’ll see when they view a fully papered room is an eventual problem they’ll have to deal with down the road. The thing about most wallpaper is that it’s a very personal decorative touch, and when a potential buyer sees your home they’ll want to be able to picture themselves and their furniture in the space. Whatever you do, don’t try to paint over it as this doesn’t often turn out well and will make it difficult to remove the paper after the fact. Instead, remove the paper and repaint the room a bright, neutral shade.

Poor Curb Appeal

In most cases, it’s what’s inside that counts - except for when you’re trying to sell your home. Not only should your home “mesh” well with the others on the street, but if you can get it to stand out then all the better. No need to worry if you don’t have a green thumb - plant a few colourful annuals or buy some decorative planters, and cover your flower beds with a fresh layer of mulch (opt for the neutral shade instead of the bright red kind). Maintenance is key, so make sure you spruce up your unkempt yard, sagging doors, or peeling paint. If you can, take a serious look at your roof and gutters, as these can be pressure points for buyers. Many homeowners don’t clean their gutters regularly either, so make sure pay attention to them as well.

Sellers who Stay for Showings

It’s understandable that you would want to stick around for a showing in order to answer any questions, but more often than not this only serves to make the viewers feel awkward or uncomfortable. If you’re selling by owner, don’t hover and make sure to give the viewers some space. Otherwise, make alternate arrangements for yourself during the showing.

Dingy Basement

You want your entire home to be warm and inviting, and this goes for your basement as well. If your basement is unfinished, even painting the cement floor or installing low-cost carpeting can make a world of difference to buyers. Clear out your junk and storage in the basement to show how much space there is for their own junk and storage.

Swimming Pool

This is only partially a turnoff, as many buyers are certainly looking for a home with a pool. But at any rate, unless they have a home with a pool in mind the buyers will either see a pool as an added expense and will almost certainly minimize the number of potential buyers who may otherwise have been interested in your home. No matter what, make sure your pool is clean before any showings.

Converted Garage

If you’ve turned your garage into a home office, an extra bedroom, or anything other than a space for a car or outdoor equipment, consider converting it back before putting your home on the market. Most homeowners will want a garage, especially if street parking is at a premium or if your neighbourhood has bylaws that prohibit street parking at certain times of day.

Popcorn Ceiling

It’s not as bad as a shag carpet, but that speckly-textured ceiling all the rage in the ’80s and ’90s is a relic from bygone days. It dates your space, and not in a good way. Removing the popcorn texture will take a considerable amount of time and preparation, but it will be more than worth it to potential buyers.