Red Flags Home Buyers Watch For When Browsing Through Listings

4 Red Flags in For-Sale Listings Might Turn Off Home Buyers

By definition, red flags are anything that might indicate danger or a problem. Most of today’s home buyers start their search for a new home online, and they narrow down the list of homes they will ultimately visit based on the information and images available to them in for sale listings.

Once they’ve found what they want, today’s home buyers also move fast, so it’s crucial that you set up an accurate and enticing real estate listing. In fact, the right listing could help you attract multiple buyers and create a competitive bidding environment. Check out these four things that send up red flags that might prevent home buyers from considering your listing.

Make Sure Your Listings Don’t Have Home Buyer Red Flags

No photos, low qualify photos or bad photo subject matter

It’s been shown that 32 percent of people (see infographic below) will increase their offer on a home by 1-5 percent if the home is staged. The average costs of staging a home is $675 and is well worth it for showing purposes.

If professional staging isn’t an option, make sure at a minimum that your home’s furniture and décor is clean and well-coordinated. The point of staging your home is to help potential home buyers envision their life in that house with their furniture.

Take professional quality photos for your online listing. Potential home buyers who are browsing through Redfin and Zillow want to see real and accurate photos of the house and yard. They want to be confident that “what you see is what you get” when they drive up to the home for a showing. Miss the mark with real estate photography and home buyers might see red flags and walk away.


Potential home buyers want to see details about the home, but they want the details to be factual, not a string of exaggerated statements. Exaggerations are red flags to buyers who wonder what else about the home isn’t as you’ve said it would be.

Present your home in a flattering and positive way in for sale listings but avoid superlative (and largely unproveable) statements such as “the best.” Whatever you say in your listing should be reflected in the photos you choose to be in your listing. Saying just a few short sentences can frustrate the potential home buyer and have them forgetting about the beautiful home you are trying to sell.

If photos don’t do your listing justice, say so. Tell the story of your home as it’s served you and your family. Help prospective buyers to see the happiness, love and friends who have aged this home to perfection!

Saying “as-is” in your listing

Very few homes require no repair, renovations or updating. Saying “as is” red flags your listing as suspect. Even if you think it’s obvious, don’t point out specific improvements a buyer might have to make upon move in. What seems obvious and necessary to you might be optional to someone else. Instead of pointing out things that need to be updated, point out the character of the home. Additionally, include the details about the home that make it unique and homey.

Highlighting your pets

Photos full of indoor pets, pet cages, food bowls etc. are red flags for prospective buyers who might worry about related odors, wear and tear or other pet-related conditions. Including that the previous homeowner had 4 dogs, 3 cats, and a bird is not going to help a listing. Prospective home buyers with allergies may be turned off by the thought of pet dander around the house. Even if the previous home buyers did have several pets, keep it out of the listing. Invest in a thorough cleaning and disinfecting.

Pro Tip: Make sure every sentence in your home’s for sale listing has value, is positive in nature and is informing the reader of something new. Avoid negatives or red flags that might keep the perfect buyer from ever exploring the property.

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