Real estate agents work hard to make sure sellers understand the importance of cleaning and decluttering a home, but making a seller understand it’s also important to depersonalize a home for sale can lead to some uncomfortable situations.

“You want buyers to feel as though they could make themselves at home, move in and be comfortable,” said Maura Neill, a Realtor at RE/MAX Around Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia, in the article “7 things that could turn off homebuyers” by Marcie Geffner. “If you request that (the sellers) take something down, they could view that as offensive.”

The list of potential turn-offs for homebuyers listed in the article included —

  1. Live animals: Realtors reported instances in which a rabbit roamed freely through one home and another in which monkeys “flung their feces when we would show the house,” Courtney Self, broker/owner of Hunter Mason Realty in Torrance, California, said in the article.
  2. Animal-head trophies: People with strong anti-hunting sentiments won’t be impressed by those deer and elk heads mounted on the wall.
  3. Flags: Neill recounted seeing a Nazi flag on the wall of a teenager’s bedroom in one home, but other flags also can be offensive, such as Confederate flags, which many people associate with racism or bigotry.
  4. Sports memorabilia: Leaving lots of New York Yankees collectibles lying around isn’t going to make a diehard Boston Red Sox fan feel very comfortable.
  5. Nudity: Pornography, artwork, and even baby pictures can be offensive to some.
  6. Locked rooms: Buyers expect to see the whole house, not just the parts the seller wants them to see.
  7. Drugs: Some states have relaxed laws, but marijuana and other drugs remain federally illegal. The presence or evidence of their use, including odors, can deter buyers.

Speaking of odors, no homebuyer wants a house that stinks. However, sellers can get used to living in a home that has strong odors and might not realize their presence.

In another article by Geffner, “Don’t sell a smelly house,” Neeraj Gupta, director of product research and development at ServiceMaster Clean, offered some advice to sellers. Gupta said the best way to find out whether a house smells okay is to “ask someone who doesn’t live there to come inside and give an opinion.”

A real estate agent working with a seller, to avoid risking one’s relationship with that seller by being too honest, can instead pass along comments from colleagues who bring buyers to see the property, according to the article.

Are there any other buyer turn-offs you’ve come across that aren’t listed? Share them in the comments below.