7 Home Features That Get a Bad Rap in the Real Estate World

published Feb 7, 2022
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Chattanooga, TN / USA - 083117: meadowbrook 1940's kitchen interior
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I’m currently house hunting. I compromised on my current apartment (which I love) by choosing a place with no central air — instead it’s radiators and window units. While that was a relatively easy compromise to make, there is one thing I’m not willing to budge on in whatever house I end up buying: no electric stoves. I hate electric stoves. They don’t cook evenly, everything burns, it’s too easy to accidentally burn yourself. Plus I’m clumsy, so that’s a real problem for me. Apparently I’m not the only one with dealbreaker appliances or home features. Below, real estate professionals share what they see buyers shy away from on a regular basis.

Window Air Conditioning Units

“I have had people fall in love with apartments but because of [window units], opt to not purchase it. Even with all the new technology out there like Hammacher Schlemmer, which uses only 10 percent of window space, or the slim and sleek Kapsul, many buyers still get turned off by the idea of spending millions on an apartment but having to use window AC units.” Phillip Salem, Realtor at Compass

Anticipated Renovations

“Buyers are very sensitive to renovation work given the time and expense in today’s climate of supply chain issues. A majority of buyers want an easy move-in and most have no vision for renovations. Unfortunately, buyers tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive. I’ve worked with sellers that see their expensive dated wallpaper, mirrored walls, and even popcorn ceilings, and think that a buyer can simply make these changes to suit their own needs. However, buyers see a dated home, even more work, and additional expenses, which can be major turn offs.” Kimberly Jay, broker at Compass

Dated Bathrooms and Kitchens

“One common ick is a new all-black bathroom and/or kitchen. This can be a big turnoff to buyers. New dark or bright color bathroom tiles and fixtures are a sure way to keep your apartment on the market for years, as buyers don’t want to pay for something that they will need to rip out. Occasionally, I still see pink or baby blue tiles in a bathroom reminiscent of the ‘50s. As these are usually very old bathrooms, buyers know they have to redo them.” Sheila Trichter, broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg

Budget Appliances

“Dishwashers are a must and I find that buyers get turned off by the smaller dishwashers. I believe they are 18-inch units. Half fridges or under-counter fridges are a deal killer for most. I have seen it happen firsthand! Also, a combined washer-dryer machine is a drag especially when a full washer-dryer can be installed.” Michael J. Franco, broker at Compass

“Bottom of the barrel appliances — more than ever — are a turn off for homebuyers. In the age of delays and continued supply chain issues, buyers want turn-key and will pass on a house if they need to purchase all new appliances before being comfortable cooking.” Mike Fabbri, Realtor at NestSeekers International

Credit: Cat Meschia


“A big turn off is wall-to-wall carpeting and carpeted bathrooms. That’s not today’s style and many times the carpet is worn-in and stained. This leaves buyers feeling like the home is old and dirty.” —Kimberly Jay

Step-Up Rooms

“Some people fear falling into their bedrooms or bathrooms at worst, or stubbing their toes in the dark.” —Sheila Trichter

Wallpaper and Wood Paneling

“Even though wallpaper is making a return, it often ages a property; buyers will not enjoy your wallpaper and only see the labor required to remove it. Removing a decorative border may be simple, but removing wallpaper from a whole room will be a huge undertaking. Wood paneling isn’t popular with buyers, either. It could be easier to paint it in that scenario.” Lyle Solomon, principal attorney at Oak View Law Group

It’s important to remember, though, that your deal-breakers can actually give you more leverage when you’re buying a home.

“Whatever you consider to be an ‘ick factor’ should simply be a point of negotiation for you to find additional value,” says Anthony Carrino, VP of design at Welcome Homes and former co-host of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins. “For example, there is no tub in the home and you have small children. Use the fact that you need to install a tub as a negotiating tactic.”