Seller’s Conundrum: Drop $$ on New Carpet or Just Be Lazy and Drop?

No, you don’t always need new carpet.

I recently read an article by Marni Jameson, a syndicated writer carried in papers around the country, and my own Denver Post. Her column insisted on the need for buying new carpet in order to get the highest price and fastest offers when selling your house:

“Why don’t I just give the new buyers a carpet allowance and let them pick what they want?”

“That’s lazy talk.”

From an Appraiser’s point of view, I have to disagree and say that sometimes new carpet really does not matter.

Before you run off and tell your real estate agent/broker that “Paul said I don’t have to get new carpet,” I must clarify that I stated “from an appraiser’s point of view.”

As a real estate Broker, I think there could be value in new carpet FOR CERTAIN PRICED HOMES or in different market conditions.

Marni’s article did not identify the price of the house. If the house is considered a “higher-end” home, new carpet could be helpful in getting your highest price. But we also have to define “new carpet.” You see, many sellers are going to be tempted to install a lower grade carpet if it is just there to make the house look better long enough to sell it (she even suggests this). Unfortunately, this may leave a savvy buyer thinking they need to replace the carpet (again) because it’s cheap carpet they don’t want to live with. If you, the seller, spend the extra money to get decent carpet, will it increase the sales price enough to justify the extra expense and furniture-moving hassle? I would expect to get at least triple the amount of the cost to go through the effort involved.

…Then what color do you choose?

What if the beige that your broker recommended (for its neutrality) is the one color your most-qualified buyer most hates? In higher-priced homes, the buyer might be planning to rip everything out anyway. But even more notable is that I have never appraised a high-end home with poor-quality carpet. Maybe I’m just lucky.

For lower-priced homes – which are already getting multiple offers within days of hitting the market – new carpet is not always necessary to get a high price. I know that the Colorado market is one the craziest in the country. Two counties north of the Denver area were ranked in the top three in the country for job creation this year by the Wall Street Journal. Currently, homes listed under $350,000 are receiving multiple offers and selling within one week; usually closer to three days. This is regardless of their condition.

Obviously, a home that has been completely renovated (like a ‘fix-and-flip’) will sell for more than one that has no updating but the idea of new carpet getting a substantially higher price than worn carpet that has been cleaned, or offering a carpet allowance, is not necessarily true.

In a typical or “stable” market where there is a balance between the number of homes for sale and the number of buyers, new carpet might be a bigger factor.

But in most of today’s markets, it’s probably just not worth the hassle.

One other caveat…

If your household contains a pet or two (or more!) then there is a much better chance that you truly need to replace the carpet. If there have been ‘accidents’ on the carpet then that means urine has seeped into the pad beneath the carpet and the smell in your home may be the driving factor – more than the carpet’s appearance.

Ask someone with a fresh nose to visit your house and tell you (honestly) whether they detect any unpleasant odors when they arrive and wander around. If they do then there’s a good chance it’s coming from your carpet (or your drapes and other fabric surfaces). Even professional cleaning will rarely address the problem, especially with cat urine. You don’t want buyers fleeing your home because of this… replace the carpet!

Dogs & Cats will leave their 'mark' on carpets in your house

Dogs & Cats will leave their ‘mark’ on carpets in your house

Are you a Buyer?

Remember – all this is ‘food for thought’ for you, too…

  • How does a home smell when you walk in to tour it?
  • Do you want to replace the carpet yourself anyway and thus worn-out carpet is something you can happily look past and ask for a ‘carpet allowance’ during negotiations?
  • Do you know how to tell if you’re looking at high-quality or low-quality carpet in a house?

To learn more about factors that affect the value of homes and impact the home-buying and home-selling process, check-out REOT’s eBook “Buying The Recession-Proof House.”

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