Carpet Credits do not help sell your home

I think most people know that offering a carpet credit does not work…except that many sellers and real estate agents still fall back on the language “$5,000 allowance for carpet” as a lazy way out.

1) It doesn’t work because once people see filthy, pet stained carpet, they don’t buy the house period unless it is a super discount of well over the cost of replacing carpet.

2) It doesn’t work because the seller’s idea of what carpet will cost and the buyer’s idea of what carpet will cost is not nearly the same.

3) It doesn’t work because many areas where there is carpet in the home will not be replaced with carpet by the new owner. If there is nice fresh clean carpet there, they will buy the house and change some areas to wood later. But if there is dirty filthy carpet there then they have to come up with the money right away to put wood, and that is usually not practical for many people buying a home.

Back in the 90’s through 2004 or so the answer was easy. You went to Home Depot and said “Realtor Beige” and you were done. But Realtor beige went out of style. Realtor Beige was replaced with caramel colored or sage frieze, but that fad only lasted about 18 months on the sage and never worked for higher end homes.

If you have filthy carpet then you have to replace it with clean carpet. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on that carpet for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the buyer may cut it out and throw it away in short order in some, but not all, of the places where you put it. You need a nice clean blank canvass that someone can live with for two to five years. If you have a higher end home costing $700,000 or more…stop reading now. This is more for the standard $450,000 or less townhome or split-entry or tri-level. Once you get to a full and newer two story home costing $650,000 plus…different answer. This answer is also good for condos, apartments and rental properties.

Below is a picture of the carpet. I might not choose this color, which is a fleck blend, but this carpet is so low in cost that it only comes in one color. 🙂 You want to minimize cost and maximize clean and odor free and utilitarian type serviceable for most people…i.e. neutral as to color but not too white-light.


Let’s jump straight to cost since cost is the reason why I use this carpet over and over again. It is a Home Depot product called…uh oh. They don’t have it anymore. 🙂 I am writing this post for a client so I will proceed with a suitable replacement carpet and update the costing. The carpet I was using was only 55 cents per square foot and then it went up to 62 cents a square foot. But the option is not currently available and the lowest priced replacement is 90 cents a square foot. Let’s allow $1.00 a square foot for a “twist” carpet. There are several options at Home Depot between $.90 and $.98 cents a sf. The benefit of a twist carpet is it has a thicker look without added cost and the padding is not meant to be bouncy thick. So you can use cheap padding at about $4.50 a square yard.

Rough cost for a whole house of 1,200 to 1,500 sf is $2,500 all things included IF you do it the way I am suggesting below. Of course not all of the floors in the house are carpet. The bathrooms and kitchens are not carpet. The last 1,750 sf house had 1,460 sf of carpet. That is the one in the picture. The one I’m working numbers for up right now is a 1,500 sf house so I’m estimating 1,200 sf of carpet. The total price should come out the same at $2,000 to $2,500 as the carpet price went up but the house is smaller.

I haven’t found anyone that can beat Home Depot prices and I’ve shopped around. Once I found someone who could match the price with a higher quality carpet, but higher quality is not always better as many of those colors have gone out of style…as in too light or too white. You are better off with current color cheaper carpet.

Get new padding!!! Often we are trying to freshen up not only look but smell. Even without pets you have “dusty old house smell” or cooking odors stuck in the carpet and padding. Not worth the savings usually to not get new padding.

TO GET LOWEST COST pull the old carpet and padding out yourself. Leave the tack boards (wood strips around the room edge with nails sticking up.

1,200 sf of carpet at 90 cents to a dollar a sf is $1,200. Padding should be about half that cost, so $1,800 for carpet and padding. Usually Home Depot has a whole house installation special for about $100. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. That special may not always be running, but let’s assume you have some flexibility in timing. STEPS are additional! so if it is a one level condo or apartment or a 1 story home you can still bring it in for $2,000 including installation and tax. Steps cost about $8 each for a simple box step. The properties I have done are either a 14 step tri-level or a one flight up 2 story. But a lot of steps like an extra full flight up or down you have to add $8 per step or thereabouts.

In the job I am costing and the one in the picture there are about 14 steps for a total extra cost of $110.

So “Hall Up, Master bedroom and closet, 2 additional bedrooms and closets, additional up hall closet, family room, and stairs”. $1,200 carpet, $600 padding, $110 for steps, $100 for installation is $2,010 which is exactly what it cost for the house in the picture including the tax with the cheaper carpet. So plan on $2,500 for a little wiggle room.

If you are a seller, spending $2,500 for new carpet is MORE EFFECTIVE than giving a “$5,000 carpet allowance”. Your home will sell faster and for more money and cost you half as much or less. A buyer thinks carpet will cost at least $10,000, so they won’t like your $5,000 offer for new carpet. Don’t be lazy. Spend the $2,500 on new carpet vs a “sorry my carpet is dirty credit”.

17 thoughts on “Carpet Credits do not help sell your home

  1. What perfect timing! I am just now starting the process of replacing my old, dingy carpet in my 3-bd 1,400 sq. foot house with the exact carpet that is shown in your photo (mine is from HD and called Fireworks Explosion). LOL! Bought the house April 2010 and the carpet was the CHEAP ‘realtor beige’ and already starting to look worn. I have two active dogs and with regular self shampoos, I was able to stretch it out to last until now. I put that same ‘speckled carpet’ my newly completed mother-in-law unit (former garage) and it looks great! Fantastic value add for the price! I liked the color so much that I tested it out in my living room by putting down a huge leftover piece as an area rug and it hides the dirt tracked in by muddy paws wonderfully!! There are original hardwoods throughout the house but all bedrooms, hallway, and living room are covered with carpet (each room has different color and cut though). I’m replacing all rooms with the speckled except for the “pet (bed) room” which will have old carpet replaced with removable rubber tiles (like what is used in gyms and playgrounds) laid over hardwoods. Beats carpet and will save the hardwoods from scratches. Total cost for carpet, padding (medium grade), and labor is a hair over $1,600 (install is special price of $37 for ENTIRE job!!!) and that is for a *nice* grade of the flecked carpet in main part of house – not for the cheaper cut I used for MIL unit. I’m THRILLED because I’ve been waiting 4 yrs. for new carpet! It’s my tax refund ‘gift to self’ 🙂 My house will finally feel like a *HOME*!

  2. Thanks for the comment! Yes, I am familiar with “fireworks”. It’s almost the same as the one I was using which was called Intensity in Parchment, except fireworks has an extra dash of caramel color added.

    Thanks for the confirmation on the pricing! Yes I have seen the installation advertised for as low as the price you paid of $37. I don’t know how they make any money on this. 🙂

    Sometimes if the seller just can’t afford to put in the carpet, I pay for it and get reimbursed at closing. It just makes no sense to put a house on the market with dirty pet stained carpet at this price. When I see a home on market with dirty pet stained carpet I just shake my head. It’s a shame really when it only takes one day to transform it into a nice clean move in condition house.

  3. Adding a note for the client I wrote this for. The base trim, and we didn’t use any on the house in the photo, costs 75 cents a linear foot. This for the 3 1./2 inch high Craftsman Style flat boards we talked about. The door frame pieces if you take out the traditional dark wood or blonde wood doors and match the outside trim piece is 2 3/4 inches wide vs 3 1/2 inches, so probably a little less than 75 cents a linear foot. All trim pieces are already white when you buy them so you only have to touch up the nail holes.

    • Thanks client for whom I wrote this post. 🙂

      The 90 cent carpet is called Palmetto in Sandalwood, but I need to choose my new favorite since my old one is no longer available. This one has a little of “the fireworks” color in it I think, so I have to view them in person again before I order anything besides the now discontinued Intensity Parchment I was using. Still hoping they might bring that back since it was only 62 cents vs 90 cents to a dollar, and I liked it a lot.

      • In regards to all of the ‘speckled’ colors available at Home Depot in particular, I’m starting to go a bit (OK a lot) crazy comparing them because, in my opinion, they’re all very similar shades. I guess the difference comes in the quality and cut. I am not carpet expert by any means whatsoever but I’m learning a TON about carpet from various sources, including this conversation. So now it’s choosing the right specked color that I’m stuck on sadly. Too many good choices!

        • FlyinIrish33,

          I focus more on color because I know the homes I am using them for in the case of sellers and the clients in the case of buyers. For instance the client whom I wrote this for will be changing all wood colored doors and trims to white. Fireworks and Palmetto in Sandalwood have the exact color in the fleck that they are removing from the wood in the house. So makes no sense in their case to pick that up in the carpet.

          If I am doing an 80’s house with caramel colored wood then I would use the ones with that caramel colored fleck. But the one I was using went better with white windows, white interior doors and white base trims.

          It’s not a matter of better generally speaking…just better for which house. They are all “good” and fairly neutral in that price range. I don’t think it comes in purple. 🙂 Supposedly purple is “THE” color for homes in 2014…but I’m not buying that theory. LOL!

          This Color of the Year chosen by Pantone and repeated in stories all over the internet…I don’t think it’s going to work in Seattle.

          • Yes, “better for each house” makes perfect sense. It just dawned on me that I should be considering the door and door frame colors I’m upgrading to when selecting the carpet color that is going to be beneath these doors. I knew I was NOT going with the brown-stained hollow core look I have now (which was horribly and unprofessionally done I might add!) but hadn’t really decided on a final wood color for the doors yet.

            Oooooh, no! I am *NOT* a purple person but maybe that color will take off here. Right now, the popular choice is blue & green LOL!

  4. FlyinIrish33,

    We ran out of space on that stacking. Hate stacked comments. Anyway…my worry for you is the dogs and “twist” carpet. You said you put something in one room for the dogs, but are they really that contained? The old “realtor beige” carpet you have was probably not this “twist” carpet. Twist is more like a version of the old “shag” and will likely get pulls if the dogs catch the raised twist with their nails.

    • Yep, I’ve been considering lots of options during the carpet selection process in relation to the dogs. So far the large remnant I’ve had in the living room of the Fireworks Explosion seems to be holding up just fine and the dogs spend about 80% of their time in that room. What I *DON’T* like about it how easily it packs down (all lays down to one angle) so easily & quickly after vacuuming. I’m hoping that the more expensive brands of same speckled colors are worth considering because they are better quality fibers, type of cute, density, etc. The higher grade samples of the speckled I’m looking at are definitely a more dense pile but the cut needs to be right (definitely nothing looped). Thinking a cable or frieze cut with relatively short pile height (shag might be too long & well . . . shaggy) but high density. This is a high-traffic area with potential for high stains.

  5. Do let us know what you decide!

    Every time I have used this type of carpet in the past it was to freshen up a home that is going on market and not for a client who plans to stay in a house. Moving OUT carpet vs moving in and staying carpet. That is why even though I wrote this for a buyer client for unique reasons, I wrote the post from the standpoint of a seller who should use this carpet instead of a “carpet credit”.

    I will say in response to your most recent carpet that I have had trouble several years ago with twist or frieze carpet in a solid color at low cost. The color sometimes doesn’t stay constant through the installation and that is why I moved to a carpet with a fleck in it. It hides imperfections better, and as you say, dirt as well. Though I don’t see them get dirty, since I use them for seller clients immediately prior to the home going on market.

    • Makes sense. Since I’m the owner and not moving anytime soon, the factors important to me are 1) Durability 2) Hide imperfections (i.e. dirt) 3) Cost – probably in that order. I’m willing to pay more for the carpet (vs. cheap stuff I put into my mother-in-law) because I’m going to be here a while and I need the carpet to hold up well now so when I DO go to sell (5 yrs?), I may not have to replace it at that time. But I’m more concerned with the ‘here and now’. Don’t want it looking matted now OR come sell time. By virtue of having dogs who are big on shedding but not overly active INDOORS, I do vacuum often and shampoo at least 2x/year standard. Willing to do the work to maintain nice flooring that won’t need replacing in less than 5 yrs.

      • The life expectancy of carpet is not very long, even for the best of carpet. I remember seeing somewhere that carpet should be replaced every 8 years or so. Add dogs and better to go with something you know will have to be replaced when it is time to sell. Too many people with allergies.

        The trend now is toward hard surfaces and mostly wood products. But those are pretty expensive and too expensive to put in as a “getting ready for market” strategy. One of the reasons I don’t recommend expensive carpet when getting a home ready for market is the trend suggests that the buyer may get rid of all or most of the carpet on the main level when they move in or within the first 3 to 5 years. They need something nice and usually new enough to hold them until they can afford to do whatever they want with the flooring.

        My thoughts are if the carpet that lasts longer costs twice as much…better to put in carpet twice than live with the same carpet for twice as long.

        • Makes sense. Because I have hardwood floors throughout, my plan is to put new carpeting in now and with the dogs it will likely be ready to replace shortly before I’m ready to sell. Then, instead of putting money into new carpet, I will put it into refurbishing the hardwoods, which should bring higher resale value. Since the floors have been well-maintained from previous owners and I will be preserving the good quality by keeping them covered while I’m here, there shouldn’t be an extravagant expense to bring the hardwoods up to a really nice quality. If I didn’t have the dogs, I’d be enjoying the hardwood flooring now but it’s not practical with them. I’m happy with the carpet; just want newer than what I have for my own enjoyment.

  6. We are getting ready to replace our carpets in a house that has been a rental to prepare it for selling. Thank you so much for the tip!

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