Don't let a "blooper room" botch your home sale

A real estate listing catches your eye and you decide to scroll through the images. The pleasant exterior drew you in, and you may be intrigued by photos of a spacious kitchen or other attractive features – only to gape in horror at a picture of a dated, decrepit bathroom.

Problematic spaces can be particularly glaring in listings that are otherwise appealing. Lambeth Hochwald, writing the home design site Apartment Therapy, says real estate agents have started referring to these as "blooper rooms," warning sellers that they could dissuade a buyer from making an offer.

Blooper rooms are troublesome because they essentially put the listing in a gray area where it will attract fewer people. Buyers looking for a fixer-upper are more likely to be attracted to properties that need more extensive work, since the price will be considerably lower than a home with limited problems. Those looking for a move-in ready home will be turned off by a room or other area that will necessitate a renovation.

An outdated space can easily reduce the appeal of part of a home. Some examples may include a cramped kitchen or an older laundry room with an oversized utility sink. Jay MacDonald, writing for the financial site Bankrate, says buyers can also be turned off by any appliances, ceiling fans, or other fixtures that date the property.

Features of a bygone era will not only reduce the aesthetic appeal of a home, but create more work for any future owner who wants to remove them. Buyers confronted with garish paint jobs, tacky wallpaper, wood paneling, or popcorn ceilings might opt to continue their home search instead of making the commitment to update the room.

Natural light is an attractive quality in a home, so potential buyers might discount a property if they find it too gloomy. Hochwald says dank basements and dark bedrooms can be particularly deterring. Janet Wickell, writing for the financial site The Balance, says some options for improving the light in a room include cleaning the windows, installing more or better light fixtures, adding a more reflective coat of paint, or trimming tree branches that block light.

Grime or clutter is never appealing in a home. While a dirty bathroom is especially egregious, any neglect will reflect poorly on the property. Pat Mertz Esswein, writing for the financial site Kiplinger, recommends packing up non-essential items and stowing them away, possibly in an off-site storage locker. Don't forget to organize any built-in drawers, cabinets, closets, or other areas buyers might check out.

Decluttering will also help you remove any personal items which can distract potential buyers. MacDonald says you should get rid of family photos, unique decorations, and other personal touches that will make it harder for buyers to envision how they'll use the home. Jamie Wiebe, writing for Realtor.com, says some features, such as hunting trophies, might be especially unattractive to certain buyers.

Consult with your real estate agent to see if your home has a blooper room. Some areas can be fixed fairly easily, while others may need a more intensive remodel to correct. You can also consider lowering your price to account for the renovations a buyer may wish to complete.

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