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The ROI of Installing New Carpet

If you’re trying to sell a house for a client, you’ve probably taken a look around the property for the quickest ways to boost its value. High on the list: that dingy old flooring. Whether it’s scratched hardwood, faded linoleum, or worn carpet, it’s got to go.

But what should you replace it with? It’s a trade-off between the time and money it takes to install, what prospective buyers are looking for, and how much it’ll add to the value of the house. Here are a few things to think about.

The Quick Facts

Carpet is easier, faster, and cheaper to install than almost any other flooring surface, short of just painting the plywood subfloor — and we don’t recommend that! Add in the discounts that realtors can receive through Sloane’s pricing, and you can expect a return on your investment of as much as 50 to 80 percent. Want to know more? Keep reading!

The Importance of Flooring

When you show a house, it’ll either be staged or empty — it’s rare that you’re showing a house with the previous owner’s stuff in it. If the house is staged, the furniture might not line up with the furniture that used to be there. Signs of wear tend to show in between the furniture, where people walk, so they’ll be visible more than they were before.

If the house is empty, that problem is exacerbated even more. The floor will be the first thing a prospective buyer sees when they step inside the house, and it will make an immediate impression.

If the flooring is faded, worn, smelly, or stained, your clients will be immediately put off. You can tell them that you’ll replace the flooring before they move in, but the first impression was already made — and it wasn’t a good one.

If the flooring is fresh and new, it will show them that the house isn’t someone else’s old home, it’s their new one. A clean floor is a clean slate, a blank canvas where they can start to build their new lives.

Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are the most popular flooring choice for selling a new home, and for good reason. They’re attractive, durable, and go well with almost any style of home or decor.

The major downside to hardwood floor is its cost. Prices can range anywhere from $5 to $15 per square foot, plus another $4 to $8 per square foot for installation. In a large home, that’s potentially tens of thousands of dollars that you’ll have to pay up front.

Installing wood floors can also be time-consuming. Wood expands and contracts in different temperatures and humidity levels. If you take wood from a cool, dry hardware store to a warm, humid home, it might expand and crack.

To prevent this, the wood is allowed to “acclimate” — it sits, unwrapped, for a week in the new home before it can be installed. Installing new wood floors is a process that takes 10 days to two weeks, during which time the house can’t be lived in or sold. If you need a quick turnaround, wood may not be the best choice.

Tile, Stone, or Marble

In some climates, the humidity and heat will cause wood floors to warp over time, so many homeowners prefer the cool durability of a hard stone or tile floor. Tile can last a very long time, and most of the cost of a tile floor comes from the labor involved, so the return can be good.

The downside of a hard floor like this is that it’s by far the most expensive option in terms of upfront costs, costing anywhere between $20 and $50 per square foot. If your tiles are small (more of them to install), irregularly shaped, or arranged in specific patterns, installation costs can balloon quickly.

Carpeted Floors

Carpet is quick and affordable to install. Carpet can be purchased right off the rack at a warehouse showroom, then installed within a day or two. It doesn’t require a perfectly smooth subfloor or meticulous measuring, since excess carpet can simply be cut off the edges.

Carpet is also often the preferred choice for families with young children. With modern stain resistance, spills are less and less of a concern, and carpet is much more forgiving on clumsy young knees and elbows — not to mention vases and glasses knocked off of tables.

Carpet has the additional advantage of offering a huge variety of styles compared to other flooring. Stone and tile come in different colors, but they’re all a hard, cold surface. Hardwood comes in different colors, but all of it looks and feels like wood.

On the other hand, carpet comes with a wide array of styles and textures. If you’re carpeting for a home office with a rolling chair, you can choose a dense carpet pad and a tightly woven Berber style to maximize durability. If you’re looking to carpet a master bedroom, you can choose a luxurious cut-pile instead.

At Sloane’s, realtors in our Registered Industry Partner program can save 10 percent off of all carpet purchases — that’s in addition to the 50 to 75 percent that we save you when compared to retail prices. At a cost of less than $3 per square foot, carpet can be an extremely affordable way to turn around a home quickly.

The downside of carpet is that many buyers think of carpet as a less premium option than a hardwood floor, at least in the main living areas. In bedrooms and kids’ rooms, carpet is still king of flooring.

Consider the Neighborhood

Spending $15,000 to install marble flooring in a neighborhood where the average house price is $125,000 doesn’t do you any good — it will just drive the price of your home past the price point that anyone’s looking for. Make sure that the flooring you choose matches the price range of the home, or it’s just money down the drain.

In the end, the decision of which flooring to install in your property before you sell is going to be a judgement call, based on the style of the home, the neighborhood, the climate, the buyers you’re hoping to attract, and a number of other factors. Go with your gut!