Trends vs fads in real estate – part 2 of 2

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Trend vs Fad

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This is a continuation of the Trends vs Fads topic . The original post emphasized general market trends and what a long-term trend looked like.  This post is more about identifying upgrades that take advantage of long term trends.

When we invest in our homes there are almost always two goals in mind: we want to enjoy the changes ourselves, but we also want to know that what we do will have a positive impact on our home’s value when it comes time to sell.

Long-term trends and short-term fads in the housing market..

Fads vs Trends..Trend: Going Green..

With natural gas, electricity and oil taking bigger bites out of our wallets, going green is more for just the environment. Home buyers are thrilled when they see things like solar paneling and smart home features that let them regulate things like heating and cooling from remote locations. Given global warming issues and potential price spikes for energy, this is trend that is happily here to stay.

Fad: Humungous showers with no bathtub..

I know we all love those fancy huge showers with their multiple shower heads. Its a wonderful luxury, IF and only if it doesn’t displace the only bathtub in the house. Sacrificing a bathtub altogether for a large shower is something that could come back to bite you later on. There are substantial number of people who do insist on having a bathtub in a home. Families with small children still need bathtubs. Also, this is a trend that has a faddy aspect to it that may indeed pass. In the 80s and 90s, massive whirlpool baths were as popular as these large showers are today. Now they are considered space vampires and are often used as extremely extravagant towel hangers.

Fad: Wallpaper..

Wallpaper comes in and out of fashion. It’s back again. But there is one thing that never changes: NO ONE likes to remove it. It’s a messy, time consuming and potentially expensive job that turns a simple paint job into a monster for most buyers. So if you are thinking of sprucing up your home for a sale, try to avoid the temptation of wallpaper. Always remember that many an agent (including yours truly) has witnessed potential home buyers run away from the perfect house in horror because of how much of the stuff they would have to remove. If you must use wallpaper, try to limit it to a single accent wall – In one room only!

Trend: Built-ins..

One of the good things to come out of the tiny house craze is that their efficiency relies on built-ins. This is something of throwback to the smaller homes of years gone by.

Older homes often have an array of nooks and crannies with pull-out drawers and shelves that are built into the original construction. We are rediscovering that built-ins are a great way to extend a small space into something more livable. Since smaller spaces are a trend, this is all to the good. Investing in permanent shelving and under-staircase storage and the like is a plus that won’t go out of style. Just keep it classic, keep it practical and as timeless as possible.

For some examples of built-ins and furnishings that do double-duty. See my Pinterest board “Nooks and Crannies”  Its something that I’m adding to as I go, so it will grow over time. It has quite a few great ideas that practical, fun and efficient.

Fad: Flooring stains that are not natural..

I know that several colorful stains are a new big deal in hardwood floors. Gray stains are very popular. Just be careful here. If you pick an unusual finish, make sure that it is something that can be sanded and refinished later should this trend turn fad on you. Nothing is worse than having hardwood floors stained in such a way that it can’t be walked back.

A cautionary tale on this topic…
About 4 years ago, I had two clients looking for a high-end townhouse. One really lovely home had one fatal flaw: pickled hardwood floors throughout. This finish was all the rage for about 5 years. Unfortunately, it was 2012 and not 1995. There is no fix for this finish except to pull up the flooring and start over. My clients rejected the townhouse based almost exclusively on the cost of pulling up and replacing all the flooring.

Trend: Kitchen cabinets in natural wood and clean lines…

If you are redoing the kitchen and plan to sell within a few years, consider keeping the cabinets simple, clean and classic. I would also give a thumbs-up to natural wood with a nice stain.

Cabinets can be painted by buyers, but stripping paint off of kitchen cabinets is like trying to remove tons of wallpaper. Keeping them stained gives buyers the option to paint or not.

Think timeless, not trendy. In the 90s “Euro-style” cabinets were all the thing. Today, they are the curse for buyers and sellers everywhere. Sellers hope the other great features of their home will obliterate the negative impact of these cabinets and buyers can’t wait to rip those dated things out of the walls and replace them with something from this millennium. Looking to the future, some of the very slick cabinetry that looks great now, may go the same way.

Trend: high-end countertop surfaces..

These include the ever-popular granite, quartz, soapstone, and stainless steel are great choices. If you are thinking of resale down the road, you might want to stay away from more porous surfaces such as marble, as they stain easily. Tile is nice, but is high maintenance. Most buyers really like to see solid surface without grout lines.

Trend: double vanities with storage room..

There is nothing worse than getting in your partner’s way while getting ready for work in the morning. For baths that have the space for it, a double vanity is a winner that home buyers love. And if one partner is a bathroom hog, Its also great for ensuring a long and happy marriage. Keeping divorce lawyers at bay is always money in the bank.

Just for fun..

This doesn’t mean everything has to be dull. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than a sea of beige. Using contrasting neutrals works well for big-ticket items like flooring, cabinets and countertops

For pops of color think area rugs, pillows, accessories. For a built-in color pop, think of things that are easily replaced like a colorful backsplash which is an inexpensive weekend project for a new buyer.

I hope these are some helpful ideas that get home sellers thinking in terms of what future buyers are looking for. Once again, though some of this is subjective, it is based on what I’ve seen over the years working with home buyers.

Further Reading:

Trends vs fads in real estate – Part 1

Here are the home improvements with the best payoff

What renovations will pay off when I sell?

Upgrades to get your home ready to sell

Learn these 4 secrets to boost your home value

Home Improvement mistakes that impact real estate value


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