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  • Mike Gratland

What Types Of Flooring Provide The Best Return On Investment

Often, homeowners ask me which types of flooring are the best investments, or which provide the best ROI (return on investment) for your home in Ventura and LA County?

I work with a lot of new homeowners right after they close on a home, so I see all the changes they make.

And I work with a lot of families who are putting their homes on the market.

I also see a trend to fixing up the home 2-3 years before homeowners intend to sell. I think this is really smart as you get to enjoy the improvements you make and sell at a higher value. It also helps you balance out your expenses over a longer period of time.

Of course everything needs to be evaluated in the context of the condition of the home and it’s neighborhood. The “standards” are different based on what you are comparing against, but here are some general guidelines.

1. Sanding and refinishing existing hardwood floors is almost always your best investment. If you have hardwood floors, you are in good shape – hardwood sells and it helps define the value of your home. If you have hardwood floors, and they are beaten up, your first consideration should be to refinish the floors. You will most likely get your investment back three fold on this…and, it makes sense.

First, refinishing hard wood floors is not that expensive…and usually costs less than people think. It is amazing how much better your home will look if you refinish the floors. You have the option of changing the color or leaving the same color. Lighter colors make the space look larger and more airy and informal; darker colors are more dramatic and give the home a more formal and sophisticated look. Satin finish is usually the preferred sheen (90-95% of my customers choose this) and it tends to show the scratches less than a semi gloss finish.

Second, if you have pet stains in the hardwood, they can usually be fixed by replacing these sections and weaving the hardwood in, and after they are refinished, you will never even notice the new pieces (assuming you hire a professional).

Third, if you have hardwood underneath your carpet, by all means, rip up those carpets and refinish the hardwood…you have just found a gold mine. Hardwood sells; very few customers want carpet…not to mention that your carpets are probably dirty and may include your smell…and the buyer will want to rip those out anyway. And, believe it or not, it is almost always less expensive to refinish your hardwood than to re-carpet.

A potential buyer who sees carpet is wondering “how much will it cost to rip out the carpet and add hardwood.” This factors into whether or not they even make an offer not to mention how much that offer is for. So, if you have hardwood under the carpets, show it off…and you will automatically improve the value of your home and how many people are willing to make an offer. It is usually a no brainer.

Fourth, if your floors are beaten up and you don’t refinish them, many will assume that you don’t take good care of your home, and that they are likely to find other hidden issues during the inspection.

2. Add hardwood flooring to key rooms, if you can afford it. Most homeowners in Ventura and Los Angeles County strongly prefer hardwood for the main living space or common areas such as living room, dining room and family room. Many prefer hardwood for the master bedroom, too. If you have hardwood in those areas, you are set, if you don’t, you may want to consider investing in hardwood for those areas – provided you have the budget to do so. You will definitely get back that return on investment – probably at least two fold. I understand that many selling their home do not have this luxury, but if you can afford it, by all means invest in the hardwood flooring (rather than carpeting) for those areas.

3. If your carpets are dirty and/or smelly, it’s usually best to replace them. Please note that trading up to hardwood, will usually get you a great return on your investment (unless of course you live in an area where hardwood is not the norm), but replacing the carpeting will not improve your selling value. Rather, it will allow you to capture the potential selling price of your home in good condition. It will probably also enable you to sell your house sooner as it will appeal to more buyers…or said another way, prevent buyers from being turned off by your home.

My guess is that you will get back this investment and just break even. (But, if you don’t do it, you will likely need to lower the price of your home and it may stay on the market longer resulting in another price reduction).

Always select a neutral color for carpets as that will appeal to the largest set of potential buyers, and generally lighter is better as it will make the space look larger and cheerier, and it gives you a sense that the home is clean.

4. Kitchens are tricky and it’s best to consult a stager for opinions. We have all heard that kitchens and bathrooms sell…and this seems to be very true.

But, usually kitchens are the most expensive area of the home and a full kitchen remodel will not give you a full return on investment. Generally speaking, most reports claim that you get 70% return on your investment. And, this is why it’s usually better to invest in your kitchen if you are just moving in or planning to stay put for a while.

However, if your kitchen is rather out of date, this may be a hindrance to the sale, you should consider your options. Sometimes, it is not worth it to do anything because the next homeowner will completely gut and redo the whole kitchen (so why invest more money if it’s like putting lipstick on a pig?). Other times, it is worth it to make some minor enhancements to either eliminate an eye sore or bring it up to an acceptable level. For example: