5 Outdated Bathroom Features Buyers Always Notice

Maybe it’s the lack of square footage, but when a bathroom is outdated, it can totally look like a time capsule preserving the trends that dominated decades ago. And even though it’s a small space, buyers are paying extra special attention to bathrooms these days.

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“In my experience, buyers tend to really care about two things: bathrooms and kitchens,” says Geneva, Illinois real estate agent Alex Lee

If you’re prepping to sell, a deep clean plus a few updates to the lighting, vanities, and shower area can add thousands in perceived value to your listing, Lee says. But you might be wondering: What features in a bathroom scream outdated? Here’s what real estate agents pointed out.

Once a luxury in the 1980s and 1990s, jacuzzi tubs today can give potential buyers the “ick.” When buyers see them, they almost always mention they’d never use the jetted tub features, says Ian Katz, a licensed associate real estate broker with Compass in New York City. These behemoth bathtubs take up a lot of space, can be costly to repair should they break down, and require a lot of extra cleaning because mold can muck up the jets. Today’s buyers are also more eco-conscious, and jetted tubs require a lot more water than a standard tub. On top of all this, Katz says his clients have safety concerns when it comes to having a tub with electronic functionality. 

Grout that appears to be in poor condition can immediately catch a buyer’s eye, says Nicole Beauchamp, a licensed associate real estate broker in New York City. She recommends all sellers have the bathroom deep cleaned before its listing photo is shot. She also says to pay special attention to the grout in between tiles, because when it’s discolored it will stick out. A baking soda and water paste with hydrogen peroxide can help with stubborn grout stains. Reglazing bathtubs pays off, too, she says.

They had a good run, but fixtures like sinks, toilets, and tubs in pastel colors like baby blue, pink, peach, and green may only appeal to a niche buyer who likes fads from the disco era.

“This was a trend back in the 1970s, and it’s the opposite of the neutrals that buyers love today,” says Olga Verkhotina, a Monterrey, California agent with Over The Moon Realty

If it’s a tub that needs a new color, a cost-effective fix is to get it reglazed in white, she says.

Carpet in the bathroom was another design fad in the 1960s and 1970s, Verkhotina says, and you likely won’t find it in new construction or recent remodels. Not one to usually dictate your design choices, the Centers for Disease Control even warns against carpet in the bathroom because it can trap moisture and contribute to mold growth. Plus, knowing that carpet in bathrooms hasn’t been trending for several decades, buyers will probably wonder what other updates are past due. Replacing carpet with tile will instantly add value to the space, Verkhotina says. 

Mirror mirror on the wall. And on the ceiling. And near the toilet?! Fainna Kagan, a licensed associate real estate broker in New York, says she’s baffled by the ‘80s and ‘90s trend of wall-to-wall mirrors. 

“I’ve shown apartments where even the ceiling in the bathrooms were mirrored and that’s the first thing the buyer notices,” she says. If there’s sheetrock underneath, pop off some of those mirrors, Kagan suggests.

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