Before you put your house on the market, perhaps you’ll swap out a few light fixtures or go over the trim and baseboards with a fresh coat of paint. But how about what not to do? It’s little things, from the awkward appliance to elaborate architectural details, that can rub a potential buyer the wrong way and end up costing you the listing price you wanted. They might not make a huge dent—$1,000 here, $3,000 there—but those small mistakes can add up. So we asked Zillow’s home trends expert, Amanda Pendleton, to share some features to avoid.

A Way-Too-Bold Exterior Color

yellow home with blue door
Photography by DP Productions/Getty Images

Zillow’s paint color analysis found that houses painted yellow sold for $3,400 less than similar homes, so save the hue for smaller moments, like window treatments and wallpaper. Psst: Brown dining rooms and red kitchens also made the list of things to steer clear of (they knock off $1,600 and $2,300, respectively). 

Inconveniently Placed Appliances

A microwave drawer sounds nice in theory (built flush into the cabinetry and seamlessly fit under countertops), but the $1,000 investment doesn’t always appeal to the majority of buyers who prefer the traditional above-range placement or simply one that’s higher up on the wall. Zillow found that listings with this addition sell for 1 percent less than homes without. 


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Over-the-Top Garage Amenities

A tidy basement or garage is nice to have—no need to go overboard with the organization. Listings touting bike rack storage, specifically, sell for 2.9 percent less than expected and take nearly 11 days longer to sell, according to the company’s data. 

Too Many Curves

blue and wood arch detailing on wall
Photography by Trevor Smith

Arches are still the It silhouette when it comes to murals, mirrors, and cabinets, but as far as incorporating them into a home’s structure goes, think twice. “Not only is the carpentry work costly, but homes that mention them in their listing descriptions sell for 1.3 percent less than similar homes and take two days longer to sell,” says Pendleton. However, if you’re lucky enough to have original arched features, she notes you can keep them around.

Mint Green Cabinets

mint green kitchen
Photography by Tracey Ayton; Design by Marrimor

Homes with a mint green kitchen could sell for $1,830 less than expected, per Zillow’s 2021 interior paint color analysis. “Our research finds recent and prospective buyers were overwhelmingly turned off by this polarizing color in a common area,” notes Pendleton. Consider playing it on the safer side with a warm white or cream tone.

A Breakfast Bar

wood breakfast bar
Photography by Seth Smoot; Styling by Rosy Fridman

These bar-height counters can be convenient, especially when you’re feeding a troop of grown kids or guests in the morning, but they are falling out of favor with buyers (homes with them sell for 1.3 percent less than expected). “They don’t work for toddlers or older homeowners, who need lower seating options,” Pendleton points out. Her advice: Go with an eat-in island or breakfast nook.


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A Kid-Focused Backyard

While little ones might go wild for a waterslide, their parents likely won’t feel the same. Homes with this pool addition sell for 1.6 percent less than those without, likely because they only appeal to a limited number of people. Your home can still feel fun without looking like a theme park. 

Coffered Ceilings

green living room

These elaborate indentations can create the illusion of a lower ceiling height and increase the formality of a space, “which doesn’t always square with the taste of today’s younger buyers, who are looking for homes that feel more relaxed and approachable,” says the pro. So skip the detailing but bring on the paint (our top picks include Benjamin Moore’s Bird’s Egg and Sherwin-Williams’s Iron Ore).

This story was originally published in September 2020. It has since been updated.