No one likes to overspend when preparing for the sale of a house. When it comes to upgrades, many things can be overdone.

So, the question about the most important room when selling a house is an important one to ask. 

Knowing the answer lets you know which rooms to focus on when upgrading or staging.

So what is the most important room, then?

The most important rooms are the kitchen, the living room, the master bedroom, and the master bathroom. 

But just focusing on the most important rooms isn’t everything. 

You will also need to avoid some major turn-offs, such as, for example, limited parking or bad smells, so you can create an excellent first impression. 

Without it, your nicely prepared most important rooms won’t have much effect. 


Buyer Psychology That Shouldn’t Be Ignored Before You Focus on the Most Important Rooms

When selling a home, you might ask yourself what the most important rooms are is actually the question about what moves a buyer’s ‘psychological needle’ most when touring a property.

Most answer this question in the context of which rooms to stage. This is also important, but not as much if you ignore what is really psychologically going on.

So, a step must be accomplished before investing in upgrades or staging these rooms.

Knowing the most important rooms and staging them won’t even take effect by not being aware of what I am about to discuss. 

Not to mention that potential buyers wouldn’t even come that far and bother to look at those important and staged rooms when the step before is not done.

Fortunately, there have already been some studies carried out about that.


15 Turn-Offs to Avoid Before Focusing on the Most Important Rooms

study by the real estate developer Harron Homes found several turn-offs and turn-ons in real estate buyers of different buying stages (online and offline).

Major turn-offs for potential buyers looking for properties online:

  • Your property listing or offer not having pictures at all or having only low-quality pictures
  • 46.2% of participants were turned off if there was no floor plan
  • Only 2% wanted to see all the rooms

When it comes to a property tour, the following turn-offs were identified:

  • The majority (more than 50%) found it a turn-off if there was limited parking
  • Another one is having to share a garden or a driveway, which 30% didn’t like
  • Old-fashioned walls, such as pebble-dash
  • More than half didn’t like seeing or smelling damp
  • Dated interior features, such as Artex ceilings
  • Old-fashioned and dated furnishings, clutter, noise, and a lack of storage space
  • Pet smells
  • Unprepared rooms
  • Being followed too closely during the property tour
  • Messy gardens
  • A messy house, in general

All of the above turn-offs influence the critical first impression you need to make.

It’s unfair, I know, but unfortunately, that’s human psychology and the effects of the first impression shouldn’t be underestimated.

There is a saying that buyers decide within the first 8 seconds if they are interested in a property.

It’s rather anecdotal evidence than research-based. However, when looking at the fact that humans make decisions about other people within the first seconds or minutes, we can assume that there is some truth to it (source).

Some source of research states that 80% of potential buyers know if a property is suitable for them the moment they step inside (source).

You can influence this by changing your dressing style, conversational topics, posture, and more (source).

The same principle can be applied to the first impression a potential buyer might get when doing a property tour and seeing a house for the first time.

And not only does the house, including the most important rooms and the exterior, needs to make an excellent first impression, but also the seller or realtor who welcomes the potential buyers.

By the list of turn-offs, you could already see that you can not only mess it up in the first seconds when receiving the potential buyer but also by following them around too closely.

As already covered in my article from a few weeks ago, the buying decision is largely unconsciously made.

The study ‘Unconscious Thought Theory’ from 2006 hints at this assumption.

As stated by this study, when it comes to complicated decisions, people count strongly on their subconscious minds

And this is the case for the purchasing of a property.

What happens when you influence this subconscious decision-making process by avoiding the above-mentioned turn-offs and making a good first impression?

Your most important rooms will stand a chance to be recognized and appreciated.

Then the subconscious mind won’t have much resistance, and the conscious mind can use the well-prepared or staged rooms to justify a potentially positive buying decision rationally.

I am sure you know the saying that we buy on emotion and justify by logic. (source)

We now know the power of the subconscious that plays a large part in recognizing the soon-to-be-revealed most important rooms.

However, there is eventually one last factor that should also be done the right way. 

I mentioned already smelling damp or pet smells in the list of turn-offs. So, the impression is not only visual.

You might think of using incense sticks or a scented candle in the context of smells, but this is a bit like playing with fire. 

Depending on the personal preference of a potential buyer, it might not be liked.

Moreover, they might get suspicious and suspect that maybe you are trying to hide some bad smells that way.

To fly under the radar and avoid red flags the potential buyer raises, you can get the same job done by using fresh air and flowers.

Sound is another element that can be used to influence the subconscious mind. 

But while this might work better in supermarkets, it is riskier in a selling situation with price tags higher than groceries. 

Using music can be interpreted as a desperate try to call attention to the house.

So, now that we have the more important subconscious part out of the way, let’s get to the most important rooms that move the conscious needle when selling a house.


The 4 Most Important Rooms When It Comes to Selling a House

According to a staging report by the National Association of Realtors in 2019 (source), the most important room to stage was the living room (47%), then the master bedroom (42%), and lastly, the kitchen (35%).

The least important room was the guest bedroom, with only 8% of realtors in the study saying that this room was important to stage.

There is somewhat of an overlap between the above study and what is stated by Trulia.

According to this property listing company, buyers closely check the kitchen and the master bathroom.

Staging and/or upgrading these areas can add the most value.(source)

From my personal experience, I would also have prioritized the kitchen over the living room. 

It also reflects better the basic human needs. 

For example, you first look for cover (the house) in a survival situation.

Then you look for food and water (the kitchen), then for a place where you can make a fire (living room), and then for a place to sleep (bedrooms)

By the way, where do most people usually end up when having a gathering or a party in a house? Exactly – the kitchen.

Most important rooms according to NARMost important rooms according to TruliaMost important rooms according to basic human needs
Living RoomKitchenKitchen
Master BedroomMaster BedroomLiving Room


Pitfalls with Unnecessary Amenities and Upgrades

It’s not always a surefire way to increase the chances of selling a house by just upgrading the kitchen, living room, and master bathroom.

It depends on your neighborhood and your potential buyer group which room you should or should not upgrade and in which way.

So, it’s a good idea to also do a bit of ‘competition research’ in your neighborhood regarding what kind of amenities other properties are offering in the most important spaces.

For example, if precious wood floors in the dining area are now the local standard, you might want to do that, too.

The idea is to meet the needs and expectations of your potential buyers.


A Bonus Tip – Color Psychology

There is a little bonus tip I can give you when it comes to influencing the subconscious mind of potential buyers in the most important rooms.

According to Zillowthe following room colors can increase the selling price of a house:

  • Dark gray in living rooms or bedrooms can get you $1,755 more
  • Terra-cotta brown in bathrooms can bring in $1,629 more

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher