Selling your home

Get rid of the carpet before selling the house


The New York Times

Q: We have worn carpet in our bedrooms and hardwood floors in the rest of the house. Should we replace the carpet, change it to hardwood or leave it as is?

A: “A worn carpet connotes shabbiness, so I would definitely make a change,” said Shirley Hackel, an associate real estate broker at Warburg Realty in New York. “Happy properties are the ones that are clean and well maintained; they make buyers feel good and bring in the most dollars.” Worn carpets, on the other hand, create the opposite feeling.

The change that would probably be most appreciated by potential buyers, she said, would be to tear out the old wall-to-wall carpeting and replace it with hardwood flooring and area rugs.

And when you pull up the carpet, she added, you might find a pleasant surprise underneath.

“If there are existing hardwood floors under the carpet,” Hackel said, “they can just be refinished.”

Jayne and Joan Michaels, partners in the New York interior design firm 2Michaels, offered the same advice.

“We’d recommend wood floors with a soft rug over them,” Jayne Michaels said. “People usually like a soft rug in a bedroom but aren’t big fans of wall-to-wall carpeting. With carpeting, there are always issues with cleaning and wear. Hardwood always looks clean.”

Although you may be concerned about the cost of installing wood floors, hardwood flooring does not have to blow your budget.

“Prefinished wood floors can be a very inexpensive option,” she said, particularly if you buy them from retailers like Lumber Liquidators or Home Depot, and they will probably increase the value of your home. And any area rug you place on top — Restoration Hardware has some affordable, attractive options, she said — can be rolled up and taken with you on moving day.

If you do decide to put in new wall-to-wall carpeting, the Michaels sisters cautioned against installing anything that looks cheap. But “if you buy a wool carpet, which we’d typically recommend, the cost can add up very quickly,” Jayne Michaels said. “Especially if you want it to be soft or semi-plush.”

A good money-saving alternative, Joan Michaels said, would be to use carpet tiles from Flor: “They’re relatively inexpensive, have the appearance of wall-to-wall, and you can easily replace a tile if it becomes soiled.” And the company, she continued, is “doing nubbier and softer options now,” like the Carry a Torch pattern from the (Better Than) Wool collection, which would be ideal for a bedroom.

In the end, however, almost any new floor covering is better than worn carpeting, Hackel said.

“There’s always the question of money,” she noted, but “an old, shabby carpet is just not welcoming.”

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