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Selling Houses: Flooring & Feelings

Buyers think they love Italian tile and other hard floor surfaces, but they actually feel happier when they're walking on softer surfaces such as padded carpeting and padded laminate. Even so, you'll want to give some serious thought to the floors in your home if you want to sell quickly, and for the highest profit.

Flooring Colors for Quick Sales

Choose neutral, light colors for floor surfaces, because they won't clash with a buyers' furnishings. Buyers can easily paint over colored walls, but changing floor surfaces is much more difficult and expensive. Therefore, the colors you bring into play when staging your home for resale is best left to areas other than flooring.

Hard Floor Surfaces and Marketing Psychology

Always weigh the cost vs. benefit ratio before making flooring decisions. For instance, tile floors in bathrooms increases property value and sales appeal, but learning to install tile floors takes time, and the cost can be prohibitive. However, many types of linoleum simulate tile surfaces, and your cash outlay for professional installation will be considerably less. Using carpet instead of hard flooring in bathrooms saves even more money and ties spaces together for a more spacious feeling, such as in a main bedroom suite.

Install kitchen flooring before you install new appliances. Usually, you save money by hiring the same installers to put in new hard flooring and carpeting. However, that can also be a balancing act, because you want to finish painting and construction prior to installing carpet.

Carpeting and Buyers

Before making the decision to replace stained wall-to-wall carpeting, try cleaning it first. I tested a trick suggested by my carpet company owner on the badly-spotted bedroom carpet in one of our investment properties. Following her advice, I sprayed Windex directly on the spots, scrubbed gently with a brush, and then wiped with a wet rag, and the spots disappeared!

Buyers love new carpeting, especially if they get the chance to pick it out. If the existing carpeting is truly awful, rip it out and clean the floors. Then, if the home doesn't look too terrible, some investors find it worthwhile to offer the house for sale at that point and offer a carpeting allowance. Personally, I think properties show much better with all flooring in place, so we always install it.

Earth Friendly Flooring

Upscale buyers love cork and bamboo flooring. They're environmentally-friendly choices, because both are easily renewable.

Cork oak trees aren't destroyed; the bark is harvested every nine years, and they can continue providing bark for 200 years! Buyers love cork's feeling of softness under their feet, and cork flooring provides a great sound barrier.

Bamboo is both sustainable and beautiful. It's actually a member of the grass family and is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, growing to full maturity within five or six years. Buyers love the distinctive look of bamboo. Natural bamboo colors range from light tan and caramel to honey browns, and the subtle grain patterns accent both linear and horizontal planes, adding visual depth and making rooms look larger.

Using the concepts of Design Psychology, you'll either choose simple or elegant flooring for your home, depending on your prospective buyer's income level, and employing Design Psychology strategies will help you create floors that buyers won't be able to wait to walk on barefoot!

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

Professor Jeanette Fisher, author of Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars, Joy to the Home, and other books teaches Real Estate Investing and Design Psychology. For more articles, tips, reports, newsletters, and sales flyer template, see

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