The 10 Rules Of How I Met Your Carpet

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September 22, 2015 by Jeff Lowen

When my agent showed me your house for sale. I walked in and the first thing I thought was… 🙂

I get asked by prospective home sellers all the time about what gets the most bang for the buck. Questions like, “Should I replace the carpet or just sell ‘as-is,’ maybe offer a credit? What about carpet cleaning? Well, here’s 10 simple Rules to answer this age-old question and put it all to rest.

Rule #1 – The carpet must be neutral. Neutral is beige. That’s it, period. If the carpet is white, blue, green, purple or any other color, or if it’s stained, ripped or worn; it’s going to ding the value of the house a lot more than the cost of new carpet. Did you get that? It will end up costing you more in the long run.

Rule #2 – If the carpet is neutral, not worn, less than 5 years old, have it professionally cleaned. Note: If you have pets that walk on the carpet, that’s 3 years. I know… It hurts. This isn’t a guarantee you won’t have to replace it. Just a probable solution.

Rule #3 – Curb appeal, carpet and the flooring, the entry way, along with paint, is one of the first things a buyer will notice. When selling a house, you want the WOW! You can’t always count on the school district, the neighborhood, or any other external factors. Work on something you can control.

Rule #4 – Carpet is one of the least expensive upgrades that will increase the value of a house. This equates to saleability and getting the most amount of money the market will bear.

Rule #5 – If the carpet is old, stained, worn, or even the wrong color, most buyers will think the house either needs work or the owners have not taken care of it. Regardless of any upgrades like, windows, remodeled baths, new water heater, or an HVAC system. This puts a dark cloud not only on the other features of the house, but buyers tend to equate the condition of the house with the condition of the neighborhood. And once your buyers don’t like the community, no amount of credit will sell your house to them less than giving it away!

Rule #6 – Banks that are selling their foreclosed homes are installing new carpet, paint and doing other repairs, because they realize the massive return on their investment doing this will offer.

Rule #7 – Most Buyers are visualizing living there and don’t want to waste imagination to see new carpet in the house they are viewing. Why? Because it’s a hassle and they don’t have to! They want “move in” ready. For a few bucks a month on their mortgage, they won’t have to move all their stuff in, then move all their stuff out to replace the carpet so they’d rather buy the foreclosure down the street that has new carpet, paint and smells like new. Yes, SMELL hits a buyer in the face long before many things do, and covering up a pet smelly carpet with an air 5-choosing-carpet-1freshener is asking for trouble. But wait!! What are you talking about? Buyers buy houses that need paint and carpet all of the time. You’re right! When I’m looking for investment property, that’s exactly what I’m looking for, because the market kills the value of a house when the carpet isn’t neutral and clean like new, or new. I’ve bought a house for 60% of its value, just because the seller didn’t want to carpet and paint. Hey… I thought it was crazy, too!

Rule #8 – What if the new buyers want their own flavor of carpet? Are you prepared to sell for 10-20% less than what your neighbors sold theirs for? Buyers don’t want just a discount for anything that needs done, they want the cost of pain and suffering because they will have to do it after they move in. When you sell with an agent, it’s a retail world. Buyers want new and don’t like to be stumbled by something as basic as the carpet. Their attention needs to be on a little “wow factor!” Keep the buyers eyes and minds on the positive attributes of the home, its great features and benefits, and the neighborhood, and you soon discover that more than one buyer wants it. Cha-ching! Don’t make the mistake thinking a buyer will put in their own carpet and move all their furniture and inconvenience their family and pay you a full market price. Yes, Mr. & Mrs. Buyer, we want you to work for free… New carpet leads to higher sales price and can help lead the market in the neighborhood, setting a new benchmark and encourage multiple offers in many cases.

Rule #9 – Selling “As-Is” only works if the house is priced below market value. As in Rule #8, buyers want a discount if they are expected to do any work. Remember this: The real estate market has a built-in buffer that takes this into account. Buying a home and knowing upfront you’ll have to spend your time doing some work, coordinating the work, paying for the work and materials; means you’ll want a good chunk of equity going in the door.

Rule #10 – With all this said, don’t let a buyer discount the value of your house simply to save the effort of the finish work. Faucets, light switches, lighting, outlet and switch plate covers, and similar little things. Putting in new carpet will keep their mind off big items, and wouldn’t you rather negotiate over the color of a $10 box of switch plate covers than the hit you’d take with bad carpets?

You’ll be rewarded for replacing the carpet. Now, if you’re asking what style? What type? Go see a new model home. Ask your carpet installer what type of carpet the investors and house flippers are using. That’s the ticket!

Ready, set… go replace some carpet.

Side note: According to Homewyse, depending on where you are, carpet can cost $2 to $5 per square foot installed. And just in case you were thinking BIG, $6 to $10 psf for hardwood flooring.

Another Side note: Now, if this article didn’t make a dent and you’re hell bent on the shampoo job, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. Your local neighborhood carpet cleaner will base their approach and price on the type of carpet, and some can be cleaned better. Also, an fyi… approximately 98% of wall-to-wall carpeting manufactured these days is synthetic.

Here’s a trick my carpet pro taught me… Burn it! Snag a little piece from an inconspicuous area or if you have an extra piece somewhere, use it.

Caution: This is best done outside in an area with good ventilation.

If your carpet is made from a synthetic fiber, it will melt and stick to the side of the lighter. If your carpet is made from natural fibers, it will burn and crumble.

You should also pay attention to the smell of the burning carpet fiber. If the burning fiber smells like celery, it is nylon. If it smells like asphalt, it is olefin. If it smells sweet, it is polyester. If it smells like burning paper, it is rayon. If it smells like charred meat, it is acrylic. If it smells like burning hair, it is wool.

And if you smell too long, call 911! All kidding aside, be careful or call a professional!


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