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Biggest Homebuying and Renting Icks

Purchasing a property is one of the biggest financial commitments that a person can make. When it comes to buying a home, there are many factors to consider, such as location, size, budget, and the age of the property.

Reasons for moving properties can vary. First-time homebuyers are looking to get their feet firmly on the property ladder, other buyers may be looking to downsize, and some will be looking to move house due to their jobs. Whatever the reason, one thing they can all agree on is that the property they’re viewing is somewhere they can see themselves living.

Homebuyer ‘icks’ are when a homebuyer is put off from purchasing a property due to factors within the home, such as the decor the current owners have gone for. This survey digs into what homebuyers and renters are looking to avoid in a property.

Key findings

What are homebuyer ‘icks’?

Homebuyer icks occur when certain features or design choices within a property can put off a prospective buyer from purchasing the property. [1], ‘7 Things About Your House That Could Give Buyers ‘The Ick’’ This can of course vary due to the personal taste of a home buyer, so, while one person may love a red bedroom, others may find it rather distasteful. 

Over 6 in 10 (62.7%) would avoid viewing or buying a property if it required repairs or renovation 

Would you avoid viewing or buying a property if it required renovation?
Yes 62.7%
Maybe - depends on the price 26.9%
No 10.3%

With over 6 in 10 (62.7%) homebuyers agreeing they would avoid purchasing a property if it was in need of DIY repairs or renovation, it is important for homeowners who are looking to sell to ensure all home projects are up to date, as this could put off a huge portion of prospective buyers from purchasing the property.

Typically, homebuyers who are prepared to purchase a home that requires lots of work will save money, however, whether this is worth it in the long run needs to be assessed, accounting for the cost of labor and materials. 

Homebuyers are most concerned about kitchens, while renters care about bedrooms the most

Room Buy Rent Both buyers and renters
Kitchen 31.2% 25.5% 27.7%
Bedroom 28.0% 31.7% 27.2%
Bathroom 17.1% 23.5% 17.6%
Basement 9.7% 5.6% 8.0%
Yard/Garden 8.9% 4.3% 7.1%
Garage 3.1% 6.9% 3.9%
Other 1.7% 2.3% 1.7%

The kitchen would be the biggest room to put a prospective buyer or renter off purchasing a home, with almost over a quarter (27.7%) saying that would put them off a property, closely followed by 27.2% saying a bedroom would be the reason they wouldn’t look to purchase a home.

Interestingly, more than one in three (31.2%)  buyers said the kitchen would be the biggest issue, - on average, a kitchen remodel costs $25,896. In comparison, however, for renters, 31.7% said the bedroom would be the biggest issue. As most renters are unable to change the decor of a property, this could likely be a contributing factor.

For buyers, the bedroom would be the second room which would be enough for them to avoid viewing a property, with 28% agreeing this room could give them the ick. For renters, however, they said the kitchen (25.5%) would be the second most room to give them the ick.

Would any of these decors rule a property out for you?

Home design trends

Image source: Self Financial using Midjourney.

A buyer's worst nightmare for decor would be an avocado bathroom, the green bathroom suite, of which 35.6% of buyers said would rule out a property for them. 

This trend was followed closely by a modern farmhouse-decorated property, with 29.8% of buyers saying this type of decor would rule out a property. This trend gives a modern spin on the classic farmhouse, with minimalist design, white walls, and flea market-weathered furniture.

The third decor design that would rule out a property is traditional, with 27.7%. Indicating to the 18th & 19th centuries, traditional design incorporates classic art and antiques, and is influenced by European decor.

Similar to buyers, renters' biggest ick would also be an avocado bathroom with 4 in 10 (41.3%) which is 6% higher than buyers, agreeing this bathroom trend to be the biggest decor reason to put them off a property. 

Followed by the Scandinavian trend (28.9%), which opts for minimalism in the home, with natural colors, wood, and house plants to add a natural feel. Third is the modern farmhouse trend, with 28.2% of renters saying this would put them off of a property.

Avocado bathrooms

The green bathroom trend really began in the 1970s, [2] Sheer Luxe ‘Trend Watch: Green Bathrooms however, it lost its popularity due to homeowners opting for light-colored bathrooms with an emphasis on minimalism, to create more space.

This trend most recently came back in 2023, [3] The Guardian, ‘Holy guacamole: are you ready for the return of the avocado bathroom suite?’ with more people opting for colorful bathroom suites. However, the survey respondents have revealed that this is the most likely trend to put them off purchasing a property, so it may well be best to give that colorful bathroom suite a miss. 

What stops buyers from purchasing a property?

Focusing on buyers, the survey asked respondents what factors may stop them from purchasing a property.

If you were looking to buy a property, what in this list would put you off from buying it?
Damp or mold 47.9%
Walls peeling 46.8%
Rat or mouse traps 40.5%
Being able to hear traffic/trains close by 36.8%
The current owner is a smoker 35.3%
Dated decor 25.8%
Bath/shower in a bedroom 25.5%
Lack of curb appeal 23.4%
Political signage 23.0%
Having an open-plan living room and kitchen 20.4%
Current owners had a pet(s) 19.7%

Almost half of buyers (47.9%) said that damp or mold would put them off from purchasing a home and that is no wonder, damp and mold are very serious problems in properties and can impact the health of those living within the home [4] Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ‘Health Risks of Dampness and Mold in Houses’ It is important as a homeowner to keep on top of any mold or damp issues. 

A further 46.8% said that walls peeling would put them off from purchasing a property, as this can sometimes also be indicative of damp and mold within a property. Just 4 in 10 (40.5%) said rat or mouse traps would put them off from buying a property,  since that would be a clear indication of a mouse or rat problem.

What stops renters from renting a property? 

Focusing on renters, the survey asked respondents what other things may put them off from renting a property to see what things can sometimes be unavoidable.

What in this list would put you off from renting a property?
Damp or mold 49.1%
A bad vibe about the landlord 47.7%
Rat or mouse traps 42.8%
Dirty tenants 41.7%
Walls peeling 41.7%
Carpet in the bathroom 40.0%
Current tenant is a smoker 33.3%
Being able to hear traffic/trains close by 30.5%
Political signage 26.6%
Dated decor 21.0%
Bath/shower in a bedroom 20.3%
Camera door-bell (Ring etc.) 20.0%
Curb appeal 17.8%
Having an open plan living room and kitchen 17.1%
Current tenant had a pet(s) 15.4%

Almost half of renters (49.1%)  agreed if there was damp and mold in the property that would put them off from renting a property, as this needs to be sorted by a landlord for a property to be habitable. 

A further 47.7% also said if a landlord gave off a bad vibe then that would put them off from renting a property. It is important to have a reputable landlord that renters feel comfortable renting from. Another 42.8% said rat or mouse traps would put them off from renting a property.


Data is analyzed from a representative survey of 1,096 Americans (7/18/23) questioning what would put them off from purchasing or renting a property in 2023. The survey was split in two with homebuyers being asked about purchasing property and renters who are looking to rent their next property, to see what would give them the ‘ick’ that would put them off of a property. With ick meaning having feelings of disgust or adversion, this has to be something that would potentially stop potential homeowners/ renters from moving into a property.

The survey asked questions on which rooms, features in the property, as well as structural impacts on the property, giving an overall idea of what ‘icks’ sellers and landlords should really look out for before selling or renting a property. 


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