Home Selling Your Home Preparing to Sell Your Home? 8 Issues That Scare Off Buyers.

Preparing to Sell Your Home? 8 Issues That Scare Off Buyers.

by Craig Barrett
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Have you ever thought about what issues can break a home sale?

It makes no difference if you’re selling your home in San Diego, CA, or if you are thinking about listing your New England beachfront property, you’ve probably got a lengthy “honey-do” list to get through. And although you want the home to look its best when prospective buyers turn up at your doorstep, there are a few of the less obvious issues you should undertake before listing your home for sale.

Here are 8 of the most common reasons that could scare off buyers.

1. Roof

According to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Assoc., (NRCIA) “Roof deficiencies are the most common problem reported by home inspection associations. 39% of homeowner’s insurance claims are because of roof problems.”

A roof’s life span depends on a few factors—location, climate, installation, and the material used. A slate, copper, and clay or concrete roof tile should have a life span of more than 50 years. Asphalt shingles will last roughly 20 years, and architectural shingles will last possibly 30 years. If your roof has “end-of-life” issues, then you might be well advised to either replace it or get it certified as being in good condition.

It may just be the factor that makes or breaks the deal. Something to think about. 

2. Gutters

If your home has gutters, and although they may look in good condition, without actually climbing up a ladder and looking at them, you can’t be sure. Are leaves clogging up the gutters? Have you noticed a decrease in the amount of rainwater coming out of the downspout? Is rainwater flowing over the top of the gutter and not running away as it should? 

These are all questions you need to answer before listing your home. A couple of hours spent cleaning the gutters will pay dividends later. If you don’t have any gutters, then it may be worth the investment to have them installed. Seamless gutter costs range from $6 to $35 per linear foot installed. This may be an expense you could do without, but it will be money well spent if it helps you close the sale.

3. Windows and Doors

Buyers will open and close doors as they walk through your house. A few may even open some windows. If any of the doors squeak upon opening or closing or if a window is stuck and cannot be opened, it will raise a red flag to any buyer who is looking for a well-maintained property. It only takes a few minutes to check that all the doors and windows are in good working order. Walk around with a can of household oil and put a few drops on each door hinge, and any that were squeaking should be silent. Check your windows all open and close easily. If not, add that to your “must-do” list.

4. Appliances

It’s been said that the kitchen either makes or breaks a sale. The appliances in your kitchen are going to be one of the high items on a buyer’s list to check. Are they all the same color and coordinated? Stainless steel appliances are always a good choice, as are black – but whatever color they are, make sure they are in excellent condition, clean, and working. The garbage disposal, if there is one installed, should be working and not too loud when it is switched on. If it is a few years old and noisy, then install a new one. It could make all the difference.

If any of the appliances are showing signs of age, then consider replacing them. Complete sets of kitchen appliances are always available at discounted prices, and that could clinch the sale.


Your air conditioning system is one of the biggest repair concerns of any potential buyer. How old is the system? How much longer will it last? Has it been serviced regularly? 

All questions that could be on a buyer’s mind. 

The average air conditioning system should last between 15 and 20 years, but regular maintenance and servicing must be done to keep it in pristine working order. 

Filters need to be changed on a regular basis – every 1 to 3 months, depending on the quality of the filter. If you have a permanent whole-house filter, (the one in the bottom of the air handler) then this should be cleaned or exchanged in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

You should have the system checked by a licensed HVAC contractor, before and after the summer season, and have any repair items carried out. Your A/C system will last much longer, and you can alleviate any fears the buyer might have.

6. Termites

Termites can cause tremendous damage to a home. As a seller, you are normally required to disclose any previous infestation. 

The buyer will more than likely schedule a termite inspection prior to closing, so why not anticipate the situation and add a termite warranty from a reputable company and put your buyer’s mind at rest?

A word of warning—any sign of termites can, more often than not, mean that any offer to purchase your home will be withdrawn.

7. Foundation

Everything good in life needs a strong foundation to survive. This is particularly true in the case of your home. The foundation has to be strong enough to support the whole structure. Any defect or damage that may jeopardize the integrity of the foundation must not be ignored.

Any cracks that are visible in the walls need to be inspected. The most commonly observed cracks are known as “stair-step cracks”, generally very narrow, usually confined to the joints between concrete blocks, and are not considered serious if they are only seen over a few joints. If, on the other hand, the cracks run all the way up the wall, then that could mean a foundation repair is called for.

Vertical cracks, sometimes large in size, could be the result of soil settlement. They often allow water penetration and must be repaired.

Horizontal cracks are a serious problem indicating heavy pressure from water-saturated soil exerting external forces against the wall, and they need immediate repairs. 

Any cracks that are visible should be investigated and remedied before you put the house on the market.

8. Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless, colorless, and tasteless radioactive soil gas. It is formed when uranium, radium, and thorium break down and decay in the soil. The result is radon gas, which permeates up to the surface and into the air that we all breathe. 

You can’t see, smell or taste radon. The only way you will know if there is radon in your home is to have a test performed — and there is no level of radon that is safe. Testing for radon is easy and relatively inexpensive. Local health departments may be able to offer kits for free or at a reduced price. Kits are also available at home improvement stores. 

If after you have conducted the test, you discover raised levels of radon, don’t panic—the problem is easily fixed. A radon mitigation contractor should be able to do the job for between $800 to $2,500. 

You can prevent concerns about radon, by having a test performed and keeping the results on hand to show your buyer.

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