“What do you mean it’s outdated?”

It’s a difficult conversation to have, but unless your home was built in the past 10 years or less we’re going to have it at some point.

Usually, you’ll say something like this:

“We’ve lived here for 25 years and we replaced the roof and the furnace, and we just got a new dishwasher a few years ago. We’ve maintained it perfectly.”

“But we do have an updated kitchen.”

“What do you mean our basement isn’t finished? I hung that paneling myself.”

In the real estate world, maintaining and updating are two entirely different things.  Maintenance is done to address things that wear out or fail, while updating is done to reflect changes in tastes.

You’ve been very comfortable there, I know. And it shows.

But that foil wallpaper in the dining room and the fuzzy wallpaper in the powder room were all the rage in 1975.  Today’s buyers don’t do much wallpaper. And when they see yours, they start calculating in their minds how much it’s going to cost to get rid of it.

And that kitchen you updated in 1982 with almond Formica cabinetry is entirely out of style.

In my experience, homes start looking outdated in 15 year cycles. Trends change, colors lose favor and décor gets tired.  Additionally, it’s about the same time that systems like furnaces and air conditioners start going bad and roofs need to be replaced.

So a home built in 1965 conceivably could have had major refreshes three times, or at least a major overhaul in the last several years…or you’ll need to prepare yourself to hear about how outdated your home is from almost every buyer that walks through the front door.

You can’t take it personally.  It isn’t so much a reflection on you as it is evidence that most of today’s buyers are looking for homes that they consider to be “move-in ready.”  The buyers willing to pay the most for your home aren’t interested in doing the projects they’d wished you’d done before selling the house.

Let’s face it. Over the years you’ve likely thought about doing some major renovations. Maybe you wish your master bath did have a soaking tub, or that your closets were bigger. Maybe you wanted to refinish your wood floors but didn’t want to deal with the mess. Maybe you thought about changing the green and pink shag carpeting in the kid’s old bedrooms, but then figured, “what for?”

Renovations and updates can cost a lot of money, and maybe you just couldn’t justify it at the time. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to cost you now.

Your neighbor’s home that sold for a record price last month had a 3-year old kitchen with new appliances and granite counters on top of new cabinetry. It had completely remodeled bathrooms, new carpet and fresh neutral paint inside and out. It had new windows. A new roof. And it probably had a new furnace and water heater, too.  That’s why it was worth 20% more than yours.

In order for the buyer of today to fork over top dollar for your home, it needs to be updated completely like they do it on TV.

Just because it’s outdated doesn’t mean you can’t sell it.  You’ll just have to be realistic in your pricing to give potential buyers a reason to tackle the projects you haven’t.