The biggest property turn-offs (and how to avoid them)

Published: 14/05/2019

We spend a lot of time talking about how to attract the right buyer or tenant, but not so much on what might put them off. So this week we’re looking at the biggest deterrents in getting a buyer or tenant to bite.

Damp is Number One in the charts when it comes to losing someone’s interest. Dealing with it properly, with all the paperwork, will make selling or renting a far easier process. But whilst damp is a full-on job, there are plenty of issues that are easier solved.  

Bad smells, for example, come second to damp on the list of ‘no-no’s’ compiled by GoCompare in 2018. Yes, that’s right, a pongy parlour is more off-putting than peeling paintwork, parking problems or no mains gas. So washing kitty’s cushion, bleaching the bin, cleaning the carpets or simply letting in some Hertfordshire air can remove major obstacles to getting a sale or let.

Similarly, a messy, cluttered or dirty house is worse than outdated wiring, a dilapidated neighbouring property, or a small kitchen. Whilst one man’s treasure is another man’s junk, to prospective buyers your clutter obscures their vision of their future home: box it up, give it away, sell it, or put it in the attic.  This goes for an unkempt garden as well.  An overgrown outdoor spot raises all sorts of red lights: is it unpleasant to be in or too dark to use? Tidying up and turning it into useable space will calm the 17% of people who would otherwise be a ‘no’.

Dark spaces are more disliked than small room sizes, and only one of those is easy to change. Make sure that window glass is clean (vinegar and newspaper, or hire your local window cleaner), that curtains or blinds are not making the problem worse, and that bulbs are bright and warm enough for the room, while avoiding the cold hard glare of the interrogation cell. If a hallway has no natural light, consider swapping a solid door for a glazed one to borrow some light from somewhere else.
DIY that is bad, unfinished or too niche (not everyone wants a Tiki bar in the corner of the living room), is more of a turn-off than an old boiler and outmoded central heating. Likewise, 14% of people would be put off by ‘over the top décor’. So while Berkhamsted and Tring are popular family areas, the wonderful neon pink in your daughter’s bedroom might just tip the scales from ‘yes’ to ‘no’ for someone who is immune to the imaginary unicorn nibbling fairy dust by the dressing table. Think of it like this: most buyers are not interior designers and struggle to ‘see’ what it would be like without the strong colour, the gold painted dado, or your teenage son’s spray-painted graffiti masterpiece.

While some deal breakers take time, money and building work to sort out, some of the most off-putting only require a bit of thought and elbow grease and are easily done in a weekend!