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Ryan G. WrightOct 26, 2016 11:08:06 PM4 min read

Top 5 Things That Scare Off Home Buyers

Many of our clients who qualify for loans wonder what they should focus on when it comes to the rehab. One important thing to remember is that you’re fixing up the house to be sold, therefore the more appealing you can make it to the everyday home buyer, the better.

Just in time for Halloween, we’re taking a look at the top 5 things that scare off potential home buyers, so you’ll know exactly what to avoid while rehabbing and reselling your property. Follow our advice and your next REI project will send prospective home buyers flocking to check out your property, rather than run screaming in the other direction.

1. Outdated/Non-Functional Major Home Components

When it comes to the home essentials, you need to make sure they are fully functional and completely up-to-date. The major home components include:

Roof: Most home buyers inquire about the age of the roof right off the bat, and a roof with not much life left to it is certain to scare off potential home buyers.

Furnace: Having a professional HVAC contractor clean and inspect the furnace will give you an excellent idea as to how much work you may or may not need to put into an upgrade.

Air Conditioning Unit: The HVAC contractor will also be able to inspect the air conditioning and let you know if it needs any repairs or upgrades.

Windows: Old windows can definitely turn off a prospective buyer. In addition to ensuring all windows are fully functional, investing in window upgrades makes a huge difference.

Electric: Have the electric system in the house thoroughly inspected to make sure there are no double-tapped circuit breakers. Pay attention to the service entrance cable to make sure there’s no fraying or splitting.

Secondary home components, or the more aesthetic/cosmetic components, also need to be updated:


Light Fixtures

Ceiling Fans

Cabinets and Counter Tops

Kitchen Appliances

These updates are well worth the investment and will prevent buyers from running away screaming from your property.

2. Wallpaper

Ever read the famous spooky short story The Yellow Wallpaper? Believe it or not, any wallpaper in the house is typically a nightmare potential buyers will want to avoid. Nowadays, home buyers want more of a blank canvas to put on their own personal touches. Wallpaper is difficult to remove and adds another chore to a buyer’s to-do list. On top of that, wallpaper is very personalized and the odds of the next buyer having the exact same interior decorating taste is less-than-likely. You can stage a room, but it’s always best to let the new buyer do any substantial interior decoration of the home.

3. Popcorn Ceilings

When you look up at the ceiling, there’s something prospective buyers will never want to see: acoustic popcorn. The nightmare behind popcorn ceilings, similar to outdated fixtures, is that it badly dates your property. Though a fix-and-flip will typically be an older home, it definitely doesn’t have to look like one. More successful investors make money on rehabbed properties by giving homes a full upgrade to make them appear as current as possible. Though it can be costly (and messy) to remove the overhead popcorn, you’ll find that this extra step in your rehab will yield tremendous results when you put your property on the market.

4. Dirt, Grime and Clutter

The perfect ingredients guaranteed to scare the daylights out of your potential buyers.

Clutter: This is relatively easy to eliminate and avoid. When the time comes to stage your home, remember that less is always more. Potential buyers love an open space: open in the literal sense and open to the buyer’s imagination so that they have room to envision living in that home and making it their own.

Dirt: Always remember to clean up after rehabbing. Nothing can turn off a buyer more quickly than seeing projects partially completed or the aftermath of a job scattered around the floor.

Grime: Even after you thoroughly clean the property, grime can still be tough to get rid of. If you’ve tried everything to remove it, I highly recommend you add it to the list of items to rehab. Replace the tile or appliance if grime proves a stubborn guest. You’ll want to quickly evict it before your prospective buyers show up.

5. Poor Curb Appeal/Misrepresenting the Home

Remember in our previous blog post we mentioned not underestimating curb appeal? It’s so powerful, it bears repeating. If a buyer is frightened off by the exterior of the house, there’s no way they’ll be willing to set foot inside, no matter how immaculate and incredible the rehab updates are. It’s absolutely essential to make sure your property puts its best face forward: new exterior paint, all exterior repairs completed and an upgraded and beautifully landscaped lawn will go a long way with potential buyers. Just as important as a lovely exterior is making sure you do not misrepresent your property when you put it up for sale. Be honest and upfront in your pictures representing the property. If you don’t, it will create a poor reputation which can spread to other buyers and scare them off before they even give your property a chance.

What’s even more terrifying than the list presented is not taking advantage of the wealth of tools and resources The Investor's Edge has to offer. In addition to funding and 100% financing options, we also provide personal account advisors and project managers to help you with every step of the rehab and resell process. Learn how all of this works by attending our next webinar.