These 4 Red Flags Could Prevent You From Getting the Best Offer on Your Home

An empty vacant 1950s mid-century modern bungalow style house in the mid-west of United States with old fashion period kitchen.
YinYang / Getty Images

Even in a seller’s market, having a home that appeals to the most buyers can help you get your home sold quicker and for the best price. So it’s important to be aware of the top red flags buyers look out for when searching for homes.

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Opendoor surveyed homebuyers about their biggest turn-offs, and identified the home design elements that could be costing you that offer. Plus, we’re sharing how to address these issues on a budget.

Outdated Kitchen

An outdated kitchen was the No. 1 buyer turn-off, with 71% of buyers saying it would deter them from moving forward with a potential home purchase. Doing a complete kitchen renovation can get expensive, but there are smaller projects you can take on to make your kitchen look more up-to-date.

“One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to give your kitchen a facelift is to replace the knobs on your cabinets and drawers,” said Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer with Opendoor. “You can find drawer and cabinet knobs at your local improvement shop, hardware specialty brands or vintage shops for less than $10 a knob.”

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Another option is adding a fresh coat of paint.

“Adding a fresh coat to your cabinets reduces the need for a full renovation and can save you thousands of dollars,” El Sanyoura said.

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If you go the DIY route for this project, make sure you do the proper prep.

“Prep and prime your cabinets correctly so your new paint job is sure to last,” El Sanyoura said. “The main costs involved are the cans of paint, which will run you about $50 to $100 per can, and the cost of the brushes, which are typically less than $100.”

Another cost-effective project is to update the fixtures.

“The accessories of a kitchen can have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the space,” El Sanyoura said. “Consider changing out fixtures, like your sink faucet and lighting, to enhance the space without breaking the bank. Both range in price and quality — you can find kitchen faucets starting for as low as $80, and lighting fixtures for about $100.”

If you have more of a budget, El Sanyoura recommends upgrading your kitchen countertops and appliances.

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Prepare: Renovations To Make — and Skip — Before Selling Your Home

Outdated Bathroom

An outdated bathroom was a turn-off for 66% of prospective buyers. Fortunately, you don’t have to do a complete renovation to give your bathroom a fresh look. Adding something as simple as a new shower curtain can make a big impact.

“Many homeowners will keep the same shower curtains for years and years, making their bathroom appear more outdated than it actually is,” El Sanyoura said. “Changing your shower curtain more often can change the entire look of your bathroom and will keep you from spending large amounts of money on new wallpaper or tile. Depending upon length and size, you can find a shower curtain for less than $50.”

Another cost-effective upgrade is changing out the hardware.

“Just like in the kitchen, switching up the knobs and handles in your bathroom is the easiest way to give it a fresher feel,” El Sanyoura said. “Knobs and handles can run as little as $10 a [piece]. In the bathroom, consider also upgrading hardware like towel rings, toilet paper holders and robe hooks to give the space a more updated look.”

Outdated Carpet

Over half of buyers (59%) said outdated carpet could make them think twice about buying a home. Although it can be costly to replace your flooring, this upgrade tends to have a high ROI.

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“On average, it costs about $0.22 per square foot to remove old carpeting in your home,” El Sanyoura said. “If you have carpeting throughout your entire home and your home is 2,000 square feet, it would cost you at least $450 to have the carpet removed. This is before factoring in labor and service fees, which can run you an additional $100 per hour. This puts you at $1,000 before you even consider putting down new flooring.”

However, if you can budget for this project, it’s likely that you’ll be able to recoup the cost.

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“Going through the process of updating flooring in your home can increase its sale value by up to 106% on average,” El Sanyoura said. “This is especially true if a seller’s carpet is visibly dated and stained, and if other homes in the area do not typically feature carpet flooring. That said, every home is different, and measuring ROI on flooring alone can be challenging.”

Old Appliances

Half of the buyers surveyed by Opendoor said that they consider old appliances a red flag when shopping for homes. Although replacing appliances can be pricey, this is another upgrade that tends to have a high ROI.

“Replacing outdated appliances with new ones can significantly increase the value of the home before selling,” El Sanyoura said. “This is because major appliances like the stove, oven, washer, dryer, refrigerator, etc., can easily cost a homebuyer thousands of dollars, and can be a headache for them to obtain upon moving into the home. Having new appliances in the home upon selling reduces stress for the buyer and increases the home’s potential value to the seller.”

When choosing new appliances, El Sanyoura said to opt for sleek, stainless steel appliances, as these tend to appeal to most buyers. She also said you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get appliances that will impress prospective buyers.

“While it is important to have updated appliances, it is not necessary to buy the top-of-the-line options,” she said. “Not overspending on the most luxe brands will ensure you see a return on your investment.”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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