The Five Biggest Turn-Offs For Renters (and Buyers)

A lot of homeowners/clients don’t listen to their real estate agents and property managers, so I’ll tell you what your agent or property manager wants to say, but can’t say to you and this is it – your agent or property manager can’t get you the price you want unless your home is in pristine move-in condition.

That means no sticking drawers in the kitchen. No leaning fences. No rust-stained plumbing fixtures. I could go on, but maybe we need to make it clear. If you have even one of following “turn-offs,” your home won’t rent.

Renters can get instantly turned off. Here are their five biggest turn-offs I’ve noticed over the last few years:

  1. Overpricing
  2. Odors
  3. Untidiness
  4. Deferred maintenance
  5. Dark, dated décor


If you ignored your agent’s advice and listed at a higher price than recommended, you’re going to get some negative feedback from renters. The worst feedback, of course, is silence. That could include no showings and no applications.

The problem with overpricing your home is that the renters who are qualified to rent your home won’t see it because they’re shopping in a lower rental range. The renters who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.


Smells can come from a number of sources – pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more. You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done.

There’s not a tenant in the world that will rent a home that smells. Even so, they’ll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells. If they find anything like undisclosed water damage or pet urine under the “new” carpet, then they will walk away.


If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, renters’ are turned off.
Too much furniture confuses the eye – it makes it really difficult for renters to see the proportions of rooms. If they can’t see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

Deferred maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart. Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home. Things wear out, break and weather, and it’s your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.

Your tenants really want a home that’s been well maintained. They don’t want to wonder what needs to be fixed next or how soon the management company will get it fixed.

Dated décor

The reason prospective renters are looking at your home is because of cost and location. They want your neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean they want a dated-looking home. Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it’s from a different era.
Harvest gold and avocado green from the seventies and soft blues from the eighties are all colors that can date your home. Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag carpet and flocked wallpaper can also date your home.

When you’re behind the times, renters don’t want to join you. They want to be perceived as savvy and cool.

In conclusion, the market is a cruel reflection. If you’re guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it’s an investment that others should pay you to profit, you’re in for a rude awakening. You’ll be stuck with an asset that isn’t renting.