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12 things that put buyers off buying your home

Bathrooms can be a key consideration for potential buyers. Could yours benefit from some pre-viewing TLC?

Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More

While a complete renovation may not be cost-effective (and, besides, people often like to put their own stamp on a place), there are a number of things you can address to give potential buyers a good feeling about your washspace.

Read on to see if there are any changes you can make to your bathroom to get the offers flowing in. Or hit the ‘Save’ button above to bookmark this handy guide for future reference.

More in this series: 7 Things Potential Buyers Don’t Want to See in Your Kitchen

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Grimy grout
You should be aiming for a space as fresh and enticing as this one. Just look at that sparkling silicone and grout – white as snow.

Yellowing streaks or, worse, black ones – which, whatever the causes, will have buyers thinking of mould or a lack of hygiene – are a real turn-off.

So if yours doesn’t quite look like this, you have a few options. The big-effort one is, of course, to re-grout and re-silicone the whole room. And if it’s really bad, seriously consider it. At the very least, remove any unsavoury silicone and redo that (you can’t just put new silicone on top, alas – it won’t stick).

For the grout, you can first try cleaning it – bicarbonate of soda and vinegar applied with an old toothbrush will go a long way. Grout whitening pens are also a thing and can be very effective (be prepared to get through quite a few, though).

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A lack of storage
If you’ve managed with a series of mismatched baskets or overflowing boxes and trays, it could be time to find a better solution.

Give your buyers the idea that even a small bathroom – like this well-appointed compact space – has scope for some proper storage. Invest in a slimline mirrored wall cabinet (neater than open shelving) and see what else you can fit in – ideally wall-hung, or you could end up making the room look smaller.

If there’s space under the basin for a vanity unit, all the better. There’s no need for anything expensive, just make it plain and functional.

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Mess
And on that note, have a proper tidy up. Clear surfaces and have nothing in sight that’s overflowing with bottles and potions (chuck everything in a box and hide it in the loft if needs be).

A good tip is to take a few photos of your bathroom. It’ll help you to see it objectively. Compare it to some of the beautifully styled washrooms on Houzz – is yours as tidy? How does that teetering pile of travel-sized toiletries look when you see it objectively? Like a dust-trap, perhaps? Clutter risks making it look as if you’re short of storage and haven’t cleaned.

Be ruthless, and go minimalist even if it’s not in your nature, and then arrange attractive toiletries sparingly. A small jam jar of flowers (try freesias or something equally fragrant) would be a savvy addition.

Struggling to get organised? Browse the Houzz Directory for a professional declutterer near you

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Unattractive accessories
It’s amazing what a set of matching towels and a fresh, also matching, bathmat can do. Hang the latter over the bath, as estate agents and prospective buyers traipsing over it in shoes will have it in and out of the washing machine no end.

Choose pale or neutral colours for towels and invest in some hooks if necessary – the entire family’s bulging towel bundle on the back of a door is not a lovely sight for a stranger.

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Tatty decoration
If you can repaint the room, do. And go for white or a pale neutral over bold shades or dark colours, which won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and can shrink an already small space.

Also bear in mind that white walls have handy connotations of hygiene and will give instant freshness. How inviting does this gleaming room look?

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Dirt
Plain and simple, you need to give that room a serious deep clean before showing it off to anyone you’re hoping to sell your house to.

Get busy with things you might usually overlook – drains, plugholes, overflows, behind the taps, dusty skirting boards and visible vents on an extractor fan. This will improve not only the look but also the smell of your bathroom.

Watch out for going overboard with compensatory odour killers, though. Strong toilet bowl fresheners can be overpowering and synthetic-smelling, as can plug-in or spray deodorisers (and then people start to worry what the scent could be masking).

Better is a clean bathroom and, as already mentioned, a fragrant bouquet of real flowers or some diluted essential oils spritzed onto your towels.

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A manky bath panel
It’s a detail you may happily, or at least grudgingly, have lived with for years. But if it’s cracked, discoloured or coming away at the edges, think about replacing it. It suggests a dated, unloved space.

No need to buy a new, flashy one – a sheet of good-quality ply, as seen here, could look great in a contemporary space (give it some matt varnish so it doesn’t instantly get ruined with water stains). Or try a length of MDF with a freshening paint job.

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A pongy laundry bin
Damp towels can get pungent pretty quickly, especially if you have a laundry bin that allows airflow, like this lovely vintage wicker number. (And people can be terribly nosy – they might open your airtight one.)

Instead, fish out laundry and get it washed before viewings start.

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A dark or dingy room
You may not be blessed with a washspace as light and airy as this one, but you can do a lot to boost the sense of light. Take this space – it’s by no means large, but fresh white paint, tiles and towels help things along.

If you have a window, clean it – you’ll be amazed at how much brighter this alone can make a room feel.

If you don’t have any natural light at all in your bathroom, if possible up the bulb wattage, invest in fresh white bath linen and give the walls a whitewash – a paint with a very light sheen should also help to bounce around what little light there is.

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Damp
If there’s constant damp in your bathroom, sort it out. Get in a professional if you’re not sure what the issue is or if there’s mould, which can be harmful, and discuss options for resolving it.

That close feeling you get in a damp room, not to mention the unmistakable smell, will not be missed by potential buyers.

In a bathroom, though, it can be as simple as not having enough air circulating. So, if you have one, open the window and get into the habit of doing so every time you’ve had a shower, along with the bathroom door, to prevent moisture being trapped in the room. Air towels properly and hang the bath mat so it can dry.

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Dodgy sanitaryware
Maybe you don’t have the budget or don’t feel it would be cost-effective to replace bath, basin, taps and loo, but you can still improve their appearance.

If your showerhead is dated and limescale-encrusted, replace it. If taps are so limescaled you can no longer clean them, consider replacing those, too (choose the same design so they’ll slot in seamlessly). Often, a new loo seat can work wonders for a dated toilet.

Light fittings are another potential quick fix. Again, choose something similar in size and the way it connects, so you’re not embarking on unnecessary filling, painting and retiling.

Find shower heads and taps for all budgets in the Houzz Shop

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Tiles that are past their best
Don’t have tiling as pleasing as this in your bathroom? Tiling is an expensive job, so think hard before committing to having the whole lot replaced, just to sell your house.

First off, if you have no tiles but feel they’d be a good addition, could you just tile a splashback and shower corner to save money? If you’re having everything pulled off the walls, there will undoubtedly be repair work and it could turn into a bigger job than you’d intended.

Tile paint may help you out in this situation as an alternative. It’s not ideal long-term, but it could freshen up the space enough to let buyers see the potential (and reassure them they won’t need to redo the room as soon as they move in, as it’s pleasant and liveable).

If floor tiles are the issue, how about a reasonably priced vinyl instead? With professional advice, you can lay it over a number of surfaces, so you won’t necessarily even need to rip everything out.

Tell us…
What would put you off a potential house buy? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

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