Dated decor, especially in the bathroom, can turn off buyers and make it impossible to sell your home. (Susan Biddle/THE WASHINGTON POST)

I’m interviewing real estate agents in preparation to sell my townhouse. Both brokers interviewed so far recommend painting my dark wood kitchen cabinets white. Painting wood seems nonsensical to me, but she says white shows better. Similarly, she recommends replacing the (old, but functional) toilets with white ones, even though one of the bathrooms also has a bathtub and shower of the same (robin’s egg-blue) color. What do you think?

We think that these brokers are giving you sound advice. From the way you phrased your question, we can tell you haven’t renovated your home in quite some time, or perhaps ever. The look must be dated: The dark cabinets in the kitchen and the robin eggs blue color of the bathrooms must be from the 1970s. It will be difficult to sell this house, even in “as is” condition.

That’s what your brokers are trying telling you: You have dated decor and that painting cabinets and changing toilets may help you sell this house faster.

What you need to understand is that potential buyers may walk in, take a fast look around and then walk out when they see how dated your home is. The only thing they’ll see is how much work it will take to bring your home up to the expected standard. Since you probably have not redecorated your home while you have lived there, having a professional painter paint the cabinets and whitewash the walls, and having a plumber replace some toilets may change the overall look and feel to your home. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way toward getting buyers to come, stay and put a bid on a home. Even if they choose to repaint, if the fresh coat helps you sell your home faster and for more money, it may be worth it.

For not too much money, you might sell your home far faster, and perhaps might get back all the money you put into fixing up your home for sale.

You may have maintained your home perfectly and know that everything in the home is in perfect order, but decor is still a huge part of selling a home. So keep an open mind and ask for their help in identifying if anything else should be done to your home. Most home sellers get defensive when brokers tell them that they should fix up their home for sale. Others simply dismiss their broker’s observations. The truth is that most good brokers have a pretty keen eye on what buyers are expecting to see.

Frequently these brokers will only say something to a seller when they truly see something that is a huge issue. While we don’t know what else about your decor seems dated, you should ask the brokers to make other suggestions. Once you add up the list, you can decide what is worth doing and spending to get your house sold quickly.

Most sellers need to declutter, pack up family photos, clean off countertops, box up and clean out closets, clean out basements and attics, install higher wattage lights, buy solid light colored towels and comforter bed covers, and get rid of any furniture that makes it hard to walk around a home.

If you take their advice to heart, we think you’ll be better off when trying to sell your home. Good luck.

Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar + e-book series called “The Intentional Investor: How to Be Wildly Successful in Real Estate” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them at