5 Super Common Things You Don’t Realize Are Tanking Your Home’s Value

published Aug 6, 2023
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Modern dining room
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When it comes time to sell your home, you’re likely hoping to get top dollar. Unfortunately, there are a lot of choices homeowners make that can actually hurt the resale value of their home (looking at you, DIY fails). And according to the real estate pros I recently spoke with, a lot of the biggest bank-busters are actually really common. Here are a few things that could be tanking your home’s value.

Deferred Maintenance 

You’ve probably been guilty of putting off certain routine maintenance jobs due to a busy schedule or tight budget at some point, but Nikki Bernstein, Realtor, associate broker, and team lead of The NikkiB Group at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices AZ Properties, says doing this can cost you big time in the long run. “If a buyer sees deferred maintenance, in their eyes the price goes down $10,000 for every infraction.”

She says everything from your cruddy carpet to banged-up light fixtures can raise red flags, with the biggest item being hot spots around the house. “Buyer will think it’s an expensive HVAC issue: $10,000 or more!”

Repurposed Rooms

It’s not uncommon for people to list their homes for sale because they’ve outgrown the space. To make those tight quarters work in the meantime, many people opt to get creative with their home’s layout, something Elizabeth Kee, licensed broker at CORE Real Estate, says sends the wrong message to buyers. 

“If you’re using your dining area as a home office, you might need to rethink working from home while your home is on the market,” she explains. “Take that laptop and ring light off your single placemat and instead set the entire table before each showing or open house.” If not, buyers may be unable to see it as a dining room and remember it as a workspace, which they might not require in their home search. 

Credit: Dan Forer/Getty Images

Dated Appliances, Fabrics, or Furniture 

Every homeowner has a style unique to them (and their budget). While hopeful homeowners can forgive an ugly sofa, Farah Sutton, a licensed real estate agent, says that they have a harder time looking past dated decor. “I know this is sometimes hard for sellers to hear as they think their dated appliances, curtains, or bedspread are good enough for them or match their aesthetic, but potential buyers want to be able to envision themselves in the home,” she says.

If you have the opportunity, Sutton suggests removing anything that makes the home look dated prior to listing, even if you can’t afford to replace it. “Staging is ideal, yet often expensive, so it is important to remember that having no or minimal furniture is usually better for the home’s value than having dated furniture,” she says.

Bad Lighting

It may be hard to believe, but something as small as a $1 lightbulb can impact your home’s value. Kee says that most people end up using different light bulbs in different fixtures around their home, creating a variety of lighting aesthetics throughout the property. “One bulb might look more bright/dim or yellow/blue than the next,” she says, adding that homes that are “light challenged” often sell at a discount. The solution: daylight bulbs. “Investing in new ‘daylight’ bulbs for each fixture can change a buyer’s experience instantaneously.”

Light-challenged homes often sell at a discount, according to Kee. “With daylight bulbs, a home that has limited natural light, can easily feel bright and sunny,” she says. “These bulbs can also boost natural light in homes that are already light-filled, making the rooms feel larger.”


Time and time again, agents say how important it is for a potential buyer to be able to see themselves in the houses they’re touring. Bernstein says having too much stuff in your space makes that hard to accomplish. 

“If they can’t see themselves there because there is too much of the seller, they are moving on and time is added to the sales clock, which equates to a stigmatized property,” she explains. “New buyers to the market are asking, ‘What is wrong with this property?’ The answer: Nothing, but the seller won’t let the buyer see him or herself here. The response is a lower price.”