Trends Cost Sellers Money
Written by PJ Wade
Every new and widely-adopted trend changes what's considered "standard." When this happens in real estate — inside or out — a seller's non-trend or off-trend house or condominium unit may become "substandard" in buyers' eyes.
Sellers who expect top dollar for their property must ensure it makes an on-trend impression with homebuyers, especially millennials.
In interior design, the trend toward ensuite bathrooms combined with the trend to "spa-like" bathrooms has put expensive-renovation pressure on sellers' existing bathrooms. No matter how nice they are to use, if bathrooms don't have the magazine-look buyers lust after, their "this is a gut job" reaction means renovation cost and inconvenience to buyers and the home gets a "too dated to love" mark against it.
To understand what buyers expect, sellers benefit from taking a long hard look at their main rooms after spending a few hours binging on home-renovation shows or pouring over home-decor magazines. Get it?
If the resale house or condominium unit doesn't have spa-like bathrooms, an oasis-style master bedroom suite, and an airy (that means new, larger windows) open concept (down come those kitchen, diningroom, and livingroom walls) central living space, buyers will only see massive, expensive renovations to achieve these "must haves." The result?
Buyers may dramatically under-value your house or condo or ignore it altogether. Ask local real estate professionals about the type of buyers who would be interested in the delayed gratification of paying for your "slightly dated" home's location and then undertaking extensive renovations themselves. Will they pay you top-dollar?
Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to renovate, so it's annoying to sellers that these are the only rooms that add value to a home. These key rooms may even decide whether a property sells at all.
The last renovation may seem a recent memory to sellers, but they must check the calendar. If it was more than 5 or even 10 years ago, this time lag puts sellers out of phase with millennial buyers — your home reminds them of their parents' or grandparents' place. Not a way to add value or evoke a "dream home" atmosphere.
- If the last renovation was fairly recent, on-trend paint and other cosmetic staging touch-ups may be all that's necessary for great return on this investment.
- If your home decor pays homage to the 20th Century, discuss 21st-Century renovations options with real estate, construction, and staging professionals.
Hone down what needs to be done to an effective cosmetic minimum after any necessary repairs. Usually sellers aim for the best potential short-term return on decor investment, not on long-term construction returns.
As well as kitchen overhauls, here are a few common "out dated" problems:
- Paint color trends now change every year in sync with fashion. The "shades of grey" look is out and color is back. If you have older beige or pink-green color schemes, buyers may discount your home's value dramatically.
- Wallpaper is in again, but if you don't have current wallpaper styles (including ease of removal), you've got a home that represents hours of scraping — not a task most buyers want to spend top-dollar to inherit.
- Stainless steel appliances and brushed nickle finishes were mandatory for years, but they are beginning to fade in popularity. Gold is the new hot metal color even though it hasn't made it to appliances yet. Buyers want new, matching, preferably high-end appliances. How do yours rate?
- Floating bathroom vanities or at least vanities with slender, exposed legs are the new norm. Old chunky cabinets, especially those without double sinks, will generate expensive "gut job" reactions from buyers.
- Solar panels and gas fireplaces have come down in price and so have increased in popularity in many locations. Skip these trends and your home may be considered "out dated" even though you have a new furnace and a classic wood-burning fireplace. "Needs up-dating" responses from buyers mean they see renovation dollar signs instead of the value that sellers believe they live with.
Staging can add cosmetic cleverness, but there still may be a few renovation projects necessary. Staging distracts from negatives and enhances positives with strategic furniture placement, scaled-down furniture, wanna-have pieces, and refreshing repaints. These elements can do a lot to enhance market value, but they can't overshadow a seriously out-of-date kitchen or a poorly-maintained exterior.
A real estate professional's thorough evaluation of market value for your property should include a list of simple and more-complex up-dates that may add to your bottom line.
Remember, sellers should concentrate on what target buyers want in their "dream home," not on what sellers have been comfortable living with for years.