Poor furnishing choices deter home buyers

Sellers must focus carefully on their furniture choices if they hope to get an offer on their homes; buyers need to look beyond them

Estate agent with keys and a mini house

When it comes to buying or selling a house, there are a million and one things to be thinking about, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that a home's design is one of them. And while obvious decorative choices, such as neutral colours for walls and flooring, can sway the likelihood of a potential buyer putting in an offer, you might be interested to know that a seller's furniture – which will obviously be taken with them when they move out – can deter buyers from proceeding altogether. 

In fact, a recent survey discovered that an astounding 25 per cent of British house-hunters said they would walk away if they didn’t like the seller’s furniture. 

Amongst the 1,000 UK residents surveyed by Heal’s, the top three most liked design features are real wood floors, granite worktops and oversized mirrors; by contrast, the least desirable feature is words displayed or painted on to walls, while outdated bathroom accessories (think fluffy toilet seat covers) and taxidermy are also enough to lose sellers an offer.  

table showing the most liked design features

The research also gave some positive results: clean-cut Scandinavian style was cited as 33 per cent of respondents' preferred look. However, the Mid-century modern look that was so popular five years ago is no longer seen as desirable.  

graph showing least liked design features

Kate MacNay from Heal’s commented on the findings: 'As potential owners struggle to visualise the space in any other way, it’s best to opt for timeless designs that showcase the best use of your space. When thinking about quality interior items, consider neatly tailored sofas, statement lighting and plump cushions as these will stand out with simple elegance and enhance the natural ambience of your home.'

These results highlight a greater problem for both buyers and sellers, however. If we assume that a proportion of buyers are being put off properties because they don't like a sofa that won't be there on completion day, it stands to reason that many, many people are wasting an inordinate amount of time, energy and money going to viewings that are never going to go anywhere, and in doing so are missing out on buying a home that might, beneath the surface, be perfect for them.

For sellers, it's more serious. If a property languishes on the market or is poorly presented, it's likely that its price will have to be dropped in the long-run or that it will only receive low offers from more experienced buyers who know how to play the market.

In other words, while sellers need to play the game and go for neutral, tasteful decor and furnishings, buyers need to look beyond it.