The 5 Biggest Design Turn-Offs That Can Keep Your Home from Selling

'The Watcher' scene featuring Jennifer Coolidge, highlighting design turn-offs when selling a house
'The Watcher'/Netflix

You’re wringing your hands, wondering why you didn’t put your house on the market a year or two ago, when wildly low interest rates and newly remote workers caused bidding wars for sight-unseen homes, with houses going into contract in no time. Now, you list and…crickets. It can be frustrating, but it doesn’t mean your home won’t sell (in fact, pending sales are on the rise—a sign things are looking up—according to the National Association of Realtors), and there are some things you can do to shift things in your favor.

Real estate sales platform Opendoor surveyed 929 homeowners across the country—and studied listings from all over the U.S.—to uncover the top five turn-offs that dissuade someone from placing an offer. And, fortunately, some are relatively easy fixes.

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outdated bathroom, a design turn-off that keeps people from wanting to buy a house
TwoHumans/Getty Images

1. Outdated Bathrooms

Opendoor data revealed that newly remodeled bathrooms were the biggest turn-on for homebuyers, so it only makes sense the opposite would be their biggest turn-off. Before tearing everything apart, are there smaller fixes that could yield a solid return? Maybe it’s finding a more modern, round vanity mirror and painting the walls sky blue (which Zillow found made people want to offer $4,698 more for a house). Or swapping out the vanity lights—Opendoor recommends swapping them out for sleeker, updated styles that can help brighten the place and make it look more of-the-moment.

2. Ratty Carpet

Cat-clawed, stained carpets immediately make buyers think the whole home is dingy—and that what’s out of sight (and under the carpet) may be in worse condition. It can be an annoying expense—can’t the buyer tear it out and put in what they want?!—but the upgrade can make a huge difference in the overall perception of your house.

New flooring was a top homebuying wish list item, so it may be worth trading out any worn carpets for durable—yet relatively affordable—luxury vinyl planks.

3. Textured Ceilings

You’ve always hated your popcorn ceiling…and so does everyone who considers buying your home. It’ll cost about $1,000 to $1,600 to remove it, according to Thumbtack, though the prices vary, depending on the size of your home, amount of labor involved and where you live. (In our experience, quotes in Tampa, FL, were closer to $3,000 to $4,000 for a 2,000-square-foot home.)

outdated ktichen, a top design turn-off that dissuades people from buying a house
Martin Deja/Getty Images

4. Archaic Kitchen Countertops & Cabinets

The kitchen’s the heart of the home, and it’s often what sells a house. An open kitchen remains as desirable as ever, but what people pay closest attention to are the countertops and cabinets. New, streamlined cabinet fronts and a coat of paint can provide a major boost without redoing everything, and in terms of countertops, Opendoor says quartz remains the most in-demand option.

5. Old-School Appliances

That dishwasher that’s barely chugging along will get called out immediately in the home inspection, so you might as well do yourself a favor and replace it early, if it’s in poor condition. Ditto for any other major appliances. When shopping around, take a look at comparable homes in your area—what brands do they have? A real estate agent told us that can help you gauge the right level of investment for your neighborhood, so you don’t under- or over-buy (like installing a Viking when buyers in your area would be happy with an Amana).

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candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...