With a combined 30 years experience selling real estate, Jim and Donna Soda always have known they need to keep up with current trends.
They didn't, however, expect they would need to spend major amounts of their time convincing clients with fairly new homes that they would have to do substantial renovations in order to sell.
It's a situation that many Realtors have found themselves in today, and it isn't a comfortable one.
Take, for example, the home at 6809 Belmont Court in the Country Club of Lakewood Ranch. It is a step below a full-blown mansion and at $1.597 million, it offers an extremely attractive quality of life. The home is 5,656 square feet and is four bedrooms and five and a half baths on a .44-acre lot.
In this case, the home was built in 2006 and was gorgeous when Jim and Donna listed it more than a year ago. The problem? The home was Mediterranean in design.
"Everybody loves their home," Donna Soda said. "So we spend a lot more time trying to get sellers to understand (they need to renovate)."
Jim Soda explained that Mediterranean is out of style, and according to industry experts, is not coming back.
"Yellows and golds are out and grays and whites are in," he said. "The new construction now is open, and there is no formal dining room.
"Millennials want a streamlined look, open areas and no arches. They want things bright and it's all about developing your own space for each member of the family, such as rec rooms and man caves. To compete, you need to take away that Mediterranean look, the dark granite and the orangey cabinets, the pink backsplash tile and the brass hardware."
Eventually, the owners at 6809 Belmont Court agreed to a renovation and spent $100,000. The exterior and interior were painted lighter colors and most of the arches were squared off. Much of the flooring was replaced, especially areas with carpets. The counter tops went from granite to quartz and LED lighting was installed throughout.
Although the Sodas say buyers aren't likely to recoup much of the renovation costs, their house will move much faster.
While it used to be that buyers would look at a home and imagine what it might look like after they added new kitchen appliances, changed the flooring or knocked down a wall, today's buyers, according to the Sodas, want move-in-ready conditions.
"People want to put up their toothbrush, change their clothes and head for the golf course or the beach," Jim Soda said.
Donna Soda said the market gives most buyers that opportunity because they have so many choices with so many new and existing homes available in the Lakewood Ranch area. If they don't like, say a black refrigerator, they don't worry about changing it because they can find a home a few blocks over that has stainless steel.
"More buyers also are watching HGTV and they also go online (to look at homes), so they get all these ideas," she said.
While the home at 6809 Belmont Court is just one example, the Sodas say sellers, no matter if their home is listed for $200,000 or $2 million, need to consider upgrades if their home doesn't fit today's trends. Donna Soda said that doesn't mean they have to spend $100,000, but they should find ways to "freshen up the house."
"A lot of people now want Smart Houses where they can control everything with their iPhone," she said. "Technology changes things so fast."
Jim Soda said sellers need to make sure the landscaping is all trimmed back and nice.
And, please, no plastic towel racks.