Top 10 Ways To Scare Away A Potential Home Buyer

Kyle Hiscock

Kyle Hiscock | Greater Rochester NY Real Estate | Pittsford NY Realtor at RE/MAX Realty Group

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Top 10 Ways To Scare Away A Potential Home Buyer!

Top 10 Ways To Scare Away A Potential Home Buyer!

Home owners who are currently selling their home or are thinking about selling their home are likely to face challenges before and during the home selling process.  Many of the challenges that are faced during the home selling process cannot be controlled by the home owner.  Things such as local market conditions, unrealistic home buyers, and low-ball offers are just a few examples.

When buying a home, there are many things that can scare away a potential buyer from a seller’s home.  Keep in mind, some buyer’s can be scared away by very minimal things.  Many of the things that can scare away a potential buyer are things that a seller has complete control over.  Many of the things that can scare away a potential buyer are actually fairly minimal while others are significant.

Whether you’re thinking of selling your home or you’re currently selling your home, knowing what can potentially scare away a potential buyer is critical.  Below are the top 10 ways to scare away a potential home buyer.  If you have the capability and resources to correct something that could scare away a buyer, correct it immediately!

Overpricing Your Home

Almost every real estate article that you read about mistakes seller’s make when selling their home will include overpricing.  Making a mistake in the pricing of your home is a guarantee to scare away lots of potential buyer’s.

I know you’re asking yourself, how would overpricing my home scare away a potential buyer?  It’s actually pretty simple, most buyer’s will not even waste their time looking at a home that is overpriced.  You’re now asking yourself, how would a potential buyer know if my home is overpriced?  That’s also a pretty simple answer.  If you haven’t heard, the internet has drastically changed the real estate industry.  Potential buyer’s can access tons of resources online to see what homes are selling for in a given area.  If a home is listed for $20,000 more than other homes have been selling for in the same neighborhood, it’s likely a buyer will make the assumption the home is overpriced.

I know it’s hard to believe that you could be scaring away potential buyer’s before they even drive-by your home or walk through your front door.  It’s critical that you price your home right from the beginning, otherwise, you could be costing yourself thousands of dollars and also valuable time.

Poorly Taken Photographs & Video

The internet has not only provided potential home buyer’s with information on local real estate markets, but the internet has also changed the way home buyer’s are shopping for real estate.  Over 90% of home buyer’s are beginning their home search online.  Before a home buyer even considers picking up the telephone to call a real estate agent, they have an idea of what they are looking for in a home.  A sure way to scare off potential home buyer’s is by having poorly taken photographs and videos of your home online.

In most cases, the Realtor you choose to sell your home will be responsible for the photographs and videos of your home.  While this may seem like something you don’t have control over, you sure do.  A very important question to ask while interviewing potential Realtors to sell your home should be regarding photos and videos.  It’s critical that you know what prospective Realtors consider top quality photos and videos.  Ask the potential Realtors what type of photo equipment they are utilizing and also for a sample of their work.

Similar to overpricing a home, poor photographs and videos of your home can scare away a potential buyer before they walk through your front door.  In order for a home to be sold for top dollar and in a relatively short amount of time, it’s critical that a home not only receives maximum exposure online, but also quality exposure through top notch photographs and videos.

Poor Curb Appeal Scares Away Potential Home Buyer's

Poor Curb Appeal Scares Away Potential Home Buyer’s

Poor Curb Appeal

Many potential buyer’s will perform drive-by’s on properties they potentially have interest in.  Whether a buyer is driving-by to check out the exterior of your home or they are driving-by to check out the neighborhood, it’s critical that your homes curb appeal is exceptional.  An easy way to scare off potential buyer’s is by poorly maintaining your homes “curb” appeal or exterior appeal.

It’s possible that the interior of your home is better than any other home in your neighborhood, however, a poor curb appeal can lead to a potential buyer passing on your home.  A poor curb appeal can actually be improved fairly easily.  Making sure the landscaping is well groomed, bright flowers are planted, and the exterior of your home is clean are just a few easy ways to ensure potential buyer’s are not being scared away.

Over Personalized Decor

When the time comes to sell your home, one of the best staging suggestions is to depersonalize.  A surefire way to scare away potential buyer’s is by over personalizing your decor.  Even though you maybe the biggest Buffalo Bills fan, that does not mean every potential buyer walking through your home will enjoy the red and blue color scheme in your living room.  The same can be said for the mural you may have placed on your bedroom wall that reads “Always Kiss Me Goodnight.”

When selling a home, think to yourself whether or not the personalized decor you have in your home would be something the majority of potential buyer’s of your home would like or not.  If there is any doubt that potential buyer’s would not like the personalized decor, change it.  Simple ways to depersonalize a home is by painting the rooms neutral colors and by removing personal items from the walls throughout your home.

Outdated Decor

Today’s home buyer’s are less and less likely to be looking for a home that needs updating.  Unfortunately, some potential buyer’s can be scared away from a home because of outdated decor.  Even though the outdated decor could be minor and inexpensive fixes, many potential buyer’s do not want to do the updating.

When selling your home, ask for non-bias opinions of your homes decor.  If you happen to know any “millennial” aged people, ask them for their honest opinion on your homes decor.  Often times simple fixes and updating can go along way.  Minor updating such as new carpeting/flooring, updating light fixtures, and removing wallpaper can help eliminate the chances of scaring away potential buyer’s due to outdated decor.

Cluttered Space

The number one thing a top real estate professional will suggest to a seller before listing their home is to remove clutter.  A great home may actually not be selling and also scaring away potential buyer’s because of clutter.  Cleaning clutter before selling a home is absolutely critical.  A home that may not have tons of closet or storage space must pay even closer attention to clutter.

Why would a cluttered space scare away a potential buyer?  A cluttered space is one of the top 10 ways to scare away potential buyer’s primarily because it’s difficult for a buyer to envision themselves in your homes space.  A great tip to removing clutter is by asking yourself if you need/use an item in your day-to-day routine.  Whether it’s your clothing, furniture, electronics, or paperwork, think to yourself when the last time you used an item was.  If the answer was months ago, throw it out or donate it to a local charity (if possible).

Dirt & Grime

Have you ever walked into someones house or a business and thought to yourself, wow this place is disgusting?  If you’re nodding in agreement, you probably did everything you could to leave at your earliest opportunity.  A home that is dirty and grimy is a sure way to scare away potential buyer’s.

Some potential buyer’s walking through your home will probably open your refrigerator and oven.  What perception does an oven with dirty burners and an oven filled with burnt food give to a potential buyer?  It’s certainly not going to leave a lasting impression when it comes time to make a decision.  Not only can something like this provide a poor perception, it also can make a potential buyer wonder what else has been neglected in the home during the time the seller has owned it.

Before selling a home, it’s important you understand the importance of preparing a home for showings.  This includes making sure there are no signs of dirt and grime.  The main places to ensure there is no dirt and grime are the counter tops, sinks, showers, and toilets.  It’s inexcusable to lose a potential buyer because the counter tops were dirty and the buyer was scared away.

Potential Buyer's Can Be Scared Away By Foul Odors!Foul Odors

Over time, people become immune to odors that they encounter on a regular basis.  For example, a person who has had several animals living with them for 10-15 years may not realize there is a pet odor. Pet odors are a very common way that a home sale can be killed.

The problem with foul odors is that others who do not encounter an odor on a regular basis are not immune.  There is no doubt that foul odors in a home are a top way to scare away potential home buyer’s.

It’s not uncommon for buyer to walk through the front door of a home, just to turn around and leave because of a foul odor.  The most common foul odors in homes are cigarette, pet, spoiled food, and trash.  Have someone who does not live in your home walk through before listing it for sale to see if there are any foul odors.  If foul odors do exist, make sure you address the problem before potential buyers are scared away.


Mold is not good, period.  It’s undoubtedly one of the top things that can scare away a potential buyer.  Mold is bad for many reasons including the many health effects it can have on a human.  Selling a home with mold is never recommended.  Before you sell your home, it’s suggested to have a mold inspection.  This can eliminate the chance you scare away potential buyer’s in the future.

Many home owners don’t realize their home has a mold problem.  There are many areas that mold exists that are not easily seen by the naked eye.  One of the most common areas mold will exist in a home and an area you should check is attic’s and crawl spaces.  Often when a ventilation fan is installed in a bathroom, it’s done incorrectly.  In many cases the moisture is being vented into a crawl space or attic, creating moisture, which eventually leads to mold.  This is only one example of an area where mold can exist in a home but it’s important to understand that mold is almost a guaranteed way to scare away a potential buyer.

Poor/Non-Functional Major Home Components

What are major home components?  The major home components include a homes roof, furnace, air conditioning unit, windows, and electric.  The major components in a home happen to cost the most amount of money to replace or repair.  A home that has poor/non-functional major components can scare away potential buyer’s.

Many home buyer’s don’t have buckets of money laying around after closing on their new home.  The worst nightmare for a new home owner is having to replace a roof a couple month’s after moving in.  The cost of a complete tear-off roof can range from several thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.  Most home buyer’s are going to inquire about the age of a roof.  They are going to want to know whether they will need a new roof in the next couple years or if they have many years remaining in the life of the roof.

If you have a home that has older major components, make sure that prior to listing your home, they are all in working order.  Problems with major home components are common home inspection findings when buyer’s have their inspection.

A few of the major home components you should have inspected before listing your home include:

  • Windows – Ensure all windows are opening, closing, and locking correctly.  Older windows sometimes will not remain open and may need to have the sash cords replaced.
  • Furnace – Have a professional HVAC contractor clean and inspect your furnace prior to listing your home.  An HVAC contractor will ensure the heat exchanger is not cracked.  Make sure the contractor places a sticker on the furnace and provides a receipt and report so you can provide that to potential home buyer’s.
  • Air Conditioning – The HVAC contractor should also be able to test the air conditioning unit to ensure it’s working properly.
  • Electrical System – Have a professional inspect the service entrance cable to ensure there is no fraying or splitting and also that there are no double-tapped circuit breakers.

Final Thoughts

Finding a ready, willing, and able buyer is not always the easiest of tasks.  The last thing you want to have happen when this buyer finds your home is have them be scared away by something that could have been addressed beforehand.  These top 10 ways to scare away a potential home buyer are not things that should be overlooked when selling a home.  Properly preparing your home for sale can make a monumental difference.  The truth is that some buyer’s are easily scared and others are not.  Knowing what potentially can scare away a buyer and making sure this does not happen with your home sale is crucial.

Other Top Home Selling Resources

  • Top Home Selling Tips & Resources via
  • How To Sell A Home | Top Home Selling Resources via
  • Staging Like A Pro: 3 Ways To Set Your Home Up To Sell via Imagine Your House
  • Three Mistakes Home Seller’s Need To Avoid via Frederick Real Estate Online
  • Things To Put Away When Selling Your Home Checklist via Las Vegas Luxury Home Pro

Are you selling your home in Rochester, NY or the surrounding area or thinking about it?  If so, being aware of these ways to scare away a potential buyer is so important.  If you’re unsure how to begin the home selling process, contact me, I’d be happy to discuss with you the home selling process.  

In addition to the providing home seller’s maximum online real estate exposure, I’d love to share why we are among the top Realtors in Rochester, NY and the surrounding areas. 

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About the authors:  The above article “Top 10 Ways To Scare Away A Potential Home Buyer” was provided by the Keith Hiscock Sold Team (Keith & Kyle Hiscock).  With over 30 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

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