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The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House

| Mar 28, 2018


In my yearlong house hunt, I’ve toured countless homes, and that first visit is a lot like a first date. It can be going great, right up until you spot your personal deal killer—like a pack of cigarettes in her purse, or white socks with sandals. Check, please!

Same thing happens when shopping for a house: The tour could be going swimmingly until you turn a corner and bam, you see that room that brings the possibility of living there to a grinding halt.

So what is this ominous, deal-killing room? It turns out there are more than one. Peruse the list below for the common offenders—not just my own, but ones that real estate agents have noted make buyers cringe en masse. Hey, it’s better to know than not so you can make some changes, right?

The empty room

“Empty rooms can kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” says real estate analyst Allison Bethell of New York–based

A room devoid of furniture leaves the buyer wondering what the space can be used for. And any of the room’s imperfections will also stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, extra sitting area, or guest bedroom.

The dark room

One of the biggest turnoffs for a buyer? “A dark room,” says Desare Kohn-Laski, broker and owner of Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, FL.

The reason is simple: No one wants to walk into a home and feel like they’re trapped in a dungeon. Even if the rest of the house is flooded with light, one dark room can make a whole house seem dark.

For starters, open all the curtains and blinds before showing a home. If the room doesn’t have much light, paint the walls a light color and add a mirror to make it appear larger. Updating the lighting also goes a long way in adding to the brightness of a room.

“Finally, put a plant in the room, because plants need light and buyers often realize this, even subconsciously,” says Bethell.

The icky bathroom

A big offender in this category: carpeted bathrooms.

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