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When selling your home, it’s vital that you entice buyers rather than actively frightening them away.

With this in mind, it pays to know the things that are most likely to deter prospective buyers. If you can ensure your home contains none of these major turn-offs, it stands to reason that your chances of selling for your asking price or above will be much higher.

Below, using our experience as estate agents operating in Hertfordshire, Borehamwood, North West London and the surrounding areas, we take a look at the turn-offs that are most likely to make buyers look elsewhere…  


Not only does damp on ceilings and walls look unsightly, it can also smell and cause long-term damage that can be costly to repair. It might also suggest to buyers that you don’t take the maintenance and upkeep of your property seriously enough – this, in turn, may make them question your credentials as a seller.

Rooms exposed to warm air, humidity and high levels of condensation – for example bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry/utility rooms – are usually the most at risk of experiencing damp.

Like so much else, prevention is better than cure when it comes to damp. Keep rooms well-ventilated, open windows in the bathroom and kitchen to prevent steam being too much of an issue and turn on extractor fans to ensure damp doesn’t become a major problem in your home.

Bad smells

Unpleasant odours are, unsurprisingly, another major turn-off for buyers. A recent survey by Go Compare found that bad smells were second only to damp when it comes to deterring prospective buyers from purchasing a property.

Bad smells are off-putting in a general sense, so it’s no surprise that a home with questionable odours would put buyers off. This could come from food, pets, cigarettes or damp.

Luckily, bad smells are something that rest entirely in your control. If, for whatever reason, your home has some unpleasant odours, there are steps you can take to eradicate them. You may want to open all windows and doors, spray air fresheners around or employ air diffusers at strategic points.

What’s more, simple steps like not smoking inside your house or avoiding food that might pong a big – such as strong cheese or a Full English breakfast – the night before a viewing will help matters.

If you have pets, it may be best to send them elsewhere while viewings take place to ensure the potential for bad smells is limited.

Slow broadband

In this day and age, fast internet access is a must-have for many buyers – even more so for those who work from home (which, trends suggest, is a growing number of us). If your home can offer speedy broadband, would-be buyers are likely to be pleased and this should improve your chances of getting your home sold.

Nowadays, it should certainly be a key part of your sales strategy. Unfortunately, if you live in a broadband blackspot or a place where internet speeds are frustratingly slow and buffering is common, this could be a major turn-off for buyers.

Of course, there isn’t much you can do if slow broadband is an issue, but for the areas we operate in at Owl Search that shouldn’t be a problem. London and its suburbs have some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country, with the need to be connected at its peak in one of the busiest, largest and most important cities in the world.

Dodgy DIY

As you’d expect, prospective buyers will be eagle-eyed when they come to view your home, on the lookout for any little flaw. If there are any half-finished, botched or half-hearted DIY jobs, there is a good chance these will stand out like a sore thumb.

Make sure, before you bring your home to market, that you rectify any rushed or haphazard DIY work, or start again from scratch completely. Wonky shelves, poor paintjobs and tatty skirting boards will only harm your chances of selling quickly and for a decent price.

Poor levels of cleanliness

A dirty home will have no appeal whatsoever to prospective buyers. If you want your home to sell, it needs to be clean, well-maintained, tidy and attractive. It needs to entice buyers rather than frightening them off.

It might sound obvious, but sometimes the cleanliness of a home is overlooked, with the mistaken assumption that buyers won’t be inspecting every nook and cranny, and some dust or dirt or scraps of food here and there can be got away with.

Quite the opposite. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to clean your home to the highest possible standards, it may be a wise move to call on the services of a cleaning company or professional to give your home a thorough once-over. While this will cost you a little bit in the short-term, it is likely to bring rewards in the long-term.

To find out more about how Owl Search can help to get your home sold in the various areas we operate in, please get in contact with us on 020 3432 3888.

We also offer free and instant online valuations for sellers who would like an estimate of their property’s current worth.

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