7 Crazy Things in Your Outdoor Space That Can Freak Out Potential Buyers

When you list your home, you want everything inside to be perfect, or as close to it as possible. So, you scrub the kitchen and baths, clear out the clutter from your closets and put fresh flowers in all the right places.

But, while doing all of this, don’t forget to give some TLC to your outdoor space. Not only will potential buyers most certainly check it out, but what they find there could make them walk…or run. Here, realtor.com serves up a few true stories of things that have turned off buyers before.

1. Spiders

A North Carolina real estate broker remembers touring a property once with some enthusiastic clients. An offer seemed likely to happen, and then they ran into massive spider webs and spiders.

Not only were they all over the exterior siding of the house, but they also were hanging between trees. It was clear that no one had been to this home for a while, and the clients couldn’t see past it.

2. Ants

A Texas real estate agent was walking around the backyard of a home recently with potential buyers when she stepped into an anthill, which shows a definite neglect for pest control.

After that, the numerous other ant beds all over the yard were impossible to ignore. It certainly didn’t leave her clients with the best impression.

When a homeowner doesn’t take care of their yard, which is clearly visible, it’s not a leap for a buyer to question if other home maintenance also was ignored.

3. Fresh kill

An agent in Canada recalls recent clients who were interested in properties with lots of acreage, with a price point of more than $1 million. More specifically, they were shopping for newer homes, with cabin-style features.

While the buyers weren’t the outdoorsy type, they still liked the idea of a space outside the city with a rustic, outdoorsy feel. But when they arrived at one property, they immediately felt the vibes that a hunter lived there, and it wasn’t difficult to see why. In the backyard, a recent kill—a big buck deer—was prominently strung up, and still being worked on.

The clients asked to leave. Sellers should keep in mind that what’s normal or acceptable to them isn’t always going to be OK for everyone else.

4. Squatters

While dead animals and live pests are sure to freak out potential buyers, you’ll also want to be sure and keep wayward people out of your outdoor space. Several years ago, a Las Vegas broker was showing a client a home, and when it came time check out the backyard, they noticed it was a complete mess.

They decided to walk the property anyway, because the client felt it had potential. Then they noticed a blue tarp, with legs and boots sticking out from underneath. The real estate agent called 911, thinking it was a dead body, and within minutes, several police cars arrived. It turned out to be a homeless person (alive, but fast asleep), and needless to say, the client passed on the property.

5. Confusing smells

When a Colorado Realtor toured the property of a potential client, he noticed a door on the barn had several padlocks and warnings to keep out. Of course, he asked the seller why, and was told it was his marijuana grow.

The agent suggested he just keep it locked and remove the signs, but the seller had to have the signs, and he also said that the last Realtor didn’t address the smell or grow space. As a result, a string of would-be buyers complained about the pungent, skunk-like odor.

6. A real-life pet cemetery

In New York City, a real estate salesperson didn’t lose a deal because of a property’s odd outdoor environment. But maybe that’s because his clients didn’t realize what was in it. The brownstone that his clients purchased had previously been inhabited by four generations of the same family.

The backyard was a jungle—completely overgrown—and you could hardly walk 2 inches. Not until they did a renovation did his clients cut all the weeds back, and that’s when they saw all these strange little stones. A few generations of the previous owners’ dogs were buried in the back yard.

7. Mysterious holes

A Portland home stager still vividly remembers getting super-creepy vibes while walking through the house of a new client. The client asked him to look at the back yard for his opinion, and once he went outside, the client showed him a very large hole he had dug that was about 6 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 6 feet long, and it looked just like a grave.

The client then asked the stager to guess what he thought the human-sized hole was for, seriously expecting to get hit over the head with a shovel at any second.

That’s when the stager faked a phone call on his cell, said he had to leave and did so ASAP. Moral of the story: If anything on your property makes visitors think Silence of the Lambs, your home’s probably not going to be a quick sell.