Q & A: Can a Seller Just Credit the Buyer for Needed Improvements & Repairs?

Q:  Doug, we are currently considering selling our home, and we have had a couple agents recommend that we do some things before we get our home on the market.  Specifically, they recommend new carpeting, paint, landscape tune up, and new appliances.  We have lived in our home for over 20 years, and we think it looks fine.  We think if a buyer wants new carpeting, or paint, or appliances we would rather just credit them the money so they can pick out what they want.  Is this smart?  Jim M, San Ramon

A:  Jim, this is a common question we get from sellers on a regular basis.  Your thought process is completely logical and understandable.  However, buying a home is not a logical endeavor.  It is an emotional purchase first and foremost.  90% of buyers buy what they see, not what could be.  There is a strong preference among buyers for homes that are “turn key”… homes that don’t need work.  Like everyone else, buyers are busy and stressed, and are generally not excited about having to do work before they move into a house.  Fresh paint and new carpeting can do wonders to transform a house and improve its appeal to buyers.  In fact, even if the buyer tears out all of the new carpeting you just put in, it can still be the best money you ever spent. Buyers will have a more favorable opinion of your home and will generally pay more for it because it will have more emotional appeal, even if they don’t like the color of the carpet or paint.  I have even had buyers over the years indicate that they want to buy a “fixer upper”, but who end up passing on homes that need only cosmetic improvements because they just did not connect emotionally with them.  So my strong advice if you want top dollar is to do recommended improvements to improve your home’s appeal.  The payoff can be huge.