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What Home Feature Screams “DATED” to Buyers?

Real Estate Agent with Better Homes and Gardens RE Shore and Country Properties RES.0781237

Many of today’s buyers like 'light and bright' and minimalistic décor when home shopping.

                                      BEFORE - Where does the fireplace end and bookcases begin?

The word ‘dated’ is used often by the prospective buyer when the perception is one of being

  • old
  • dark
  • dingy

or having things like

  • linoleum
  • floral wallpaper
  • butcher block countertops or older style laminates
  • velvet or heavy looking drapes, curtains or jabots….

among many other things.

There is ONE home feature that gets the attention of many buyers and generally elicits a negative comment.

That would be dark trim with in some cases, the added 'benefit' of a dark paneled room or rooms.

Not only does the dark trim cause the word ‘dated’ to be uttered by the home shopper, but it also can be of a bit of a turn off. In actuality, painting the trim and possibly dark walls or paneling can be time consuming and costly, but the end result practically guarantees buyer approval and more $$$ when the offer comes in.  

                                     AFTER - NOW you can see the bookcases!


There may be homes where preservation of darker trim and wood on walls may be what a particular buyer is looking for and what might be expected in the type of home, especially with historic homes.

Generally, though, in my experience, most home buyers prefer lighter trim and now lighter paint on walls.

Homes with light grey or subtle blue/grey walls with white trim and medium dark hardwood flooring are top choices of prospects I have worked with.   Trends change, of course, but this is what is popular now.  Just imagine if the picture to the left below had all dark trim and a dark door. The look would be so different.


Paint is one of the most inexpensive remodeling costs. Hiring professional painters can drive up the cost of adding a fresh coat of paint to interiors and/or priming and painting the trim, but again, you’re selling your house…. Not your home.

You want to appeal to the broadest group of buyers and you don’t want your home to earn the DATED label which can drive down the offers or even prevent buyers from making one in the first place because they want move in condition and do not like the dark trim.

We all know how important listing pictures are. No matter how much light there is in the house or how many lights are turned on, an agent or professional photographer cannot make rooms with dark trim look UPdated.
Again, there are possibly some exceptions as noted previously.

A success story ....

A few years ago I listed a house that initially had dark trim and doors. When I first walked in, I took a few steps back. It was so dark and tired looking. I had a heart to heart talk with the young owners and told them how much lightening up the trim would help. They also had horrendous doors down this long hallway. It looked like a dungeon.  

They called in all their markers, had a weekend painting party, replaced doors, and VOILA! It was like a NEW house!   The house was a very tough sell due to its location, but we had lots of traffic and two offers fairly quickly. The pictures looked great; the house looked bright and even cleaner, though it wasn’t dirty in the place…but the perception of clean came through with all that new white trim. They also received a good strong offer.


So, if you are thinking of selling, I always recommend you consult with a REALTOR® who is not afraid to make recommendations to improve.


The picture to the right has three common buyer preferences menetioned above:

  • white trim
  • greyish blue wall paint
  • medium stained wood flooring


Now some sellers have no intention of doing any extensive painting or maybe cannot afford to even do it, but it should be mentioned and encouraged by the agent if the agent knows it WILL make a difference and have an impact.


If the seller wants top dollar, then the seller should acquiesce to buyer preferences. If not, then the property should be priced accordingly.


For expert pre-listing advice BEFORE you decide to make any changes, please contact me by email or cell 203-520-6930 for a no obligation consultation.





Dave Halpern
Dave Halpern Real Estate Agent, Inc., Louisville, KY (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

Wallpaper should have a warning label:

"Caution, this wallpaper may instantly make your house seem dated"

Nov 30, 2017 01:57 PM
Anthony Acosta - ALLATLANTAcondos.com
Harry Norman, REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker

Good afternoon Barbara Altieri 

Thank you for sharing your informatin with us.

Have a great day 11/30/2017. 

Nov 30, 2017 03:02 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Barbara- if only sellers would invest in paint when selling their home. It can such a huge difference. 

Nov 30, 2017 04:53 PM
Barbara Altieri
Better Homes and Gardens RE Shore and Country Properties - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Dave Halpern True! For some reason I have seen a lot of wallpaper with the small flowers on it lately. 

Anthony Acosta - ALLATLANTACONDOS.COM Thank you!

Kathy Streib It certainly can make a difference.... but the right colors have to be selected!

Dec 01, 2017 12:57 PM
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Happy Holidays Barbara, great information on sprucing up a home before sale.

Dec 19, 2017 05:47 AM