Messy lockdown lives are putting people off buying new homes, with clutter caused by home schooling and people working from home leading to some sales falling through, according to a leading estate agent.

Struan Douglas, Managing Director of Edinburgh-based Purdie & Co, said sluggish sales in some parts of the country following the most recent lockdown are, in part, down to sellers failing to properly prepare their homes for sale.

Untidy children’s bedrooms, littered with books and homework jotters, and public rooms being used as impromptu offices by homeworkers are mostly to blame, according to Mr Douglas.

In some cases, sellers have become so caught up in lockdown life, that they don’t dress in the morning and there are stories of some showing prospective buyers around their homes in their pyjamas.

Mr Douglas said that while property sales in Edinburgh have held up throughout the pandemic, in other parts of the country, some local property markets have experienced slower growth.

He said: “One of the problems is that, with sellers and their children being at home all the time, their properties look more ‘lived-in’.

“Most people will make an effort to tidy their homes ahead of viewings, but it’s not easy when they are holding down busy jobs and their children are being home-schooled.

“As well as making homes look untidy, the clutter of books and documents on floors and laptops and PCs on kitchen tables with lots of wires everywhere can make rooms appear smaller.

“If people have been eating at their workstations and there are dirty dishes everywhere, that can contribute to an appearance of general chaos.” 

A recent study showed that many prospective buyers will be deterred from making an offer for a property they like if it is cluttered and messy. The worst offences, according to the survey by an online property portal, were unclean carpets, used dishes on surfaces and pet smells.

Decluttering, vacuuming, and hiding evidence of pets were more likely to result in a sale, according to the study of 2,000 adults, with smells of baking bread and freshly brewed coffee said to be most appealing to prospective buyers. Maybe the lockdown banana bread craze helps!

Another survey by property website Zoopla found that 47% of people were put off by shabby gardens, which could influence their decision to buy as well as how much they were prepared to bid.

The difference between an unkempt and a well-maintained garden could be several thousands of pounds on the final selling price, according to its research.

Mr Douglas said: “Most people spend around 70 minutes tidying their homes before showing them to prospective buyers.

“It makes sense that sellers will want to show their homes to their best advantage, as a matter of general pride but also to maximise its potential value.

“Some people, for whatever reason, adopt a ‘take us as you find us’ approach which is fine with family and friends, but not with a business transaction.

“No one underestimates the pressures of lockdown and many people are struggling with motivation. We have heard stories of some sellers inviting potential buyers into their homes for viewings still dressed in their nightwear and dressing gowns.

“While those people are very much a minority, we would urge everyone selling their homes to make a little effort to vacuum, clear surfaces and tidy away children’s homework and work equipment ahead of viewings.” 


For more information on selling your home please call Purdie & Co on 0131 346 7240 or visit