No, it’s not common. I think it probably would be reasonable if the carpet or paint needed updating, but it’s almost never taken care of that way.
Why is that?
Generally, if a buyer doesn’t like the paint or carpet in a home then they address it in the offer price.
For example, “I really love the house but it needs all new paint and carpet, so I will offer a lower price.”
Sometimes a buyer is cash strapped and won’t have the money after closing to put in new paint or carpet. In these cases it’s usually addressed as a cash credit at closing.
It might be written into the contract to the effect of, “Seller agrees to credit buyer $2300 at closing for paint and carpet.”
In some cases that won’t work though, because some lenders don’t like to see that type of language on a contract. The reason? Well if you’re getting a loan for $138,000 the bank doesn’t like to see you getting $2300 of that back as cash in your pocket so to speak.
So in this case the workaround would be for the seller to credit the buyer $2300 in closing costs and pre-paid closing costs, and the buyer just keeps the $2300 they were going to put down at closing towards closing costs and uses the money for paint and carpet instead.
All this aside, I think the biggest reason that buyers don’t ask for the seller to put in new paint and carpet is that they want to choose what paint or carpet is being put in. They don’t want the seller picking the colors and textures for their new buy. The buyers want to pick it on their own.
A special note to sellers:
Paint and carpet matter.
A house will sell based on its size and condition, what neighborhood it is in, how big the back yard is, etc. But it’s the paint and carpet inside that brightens the interior and gives the buyer that final “yes” signal.
I was showing property last week under similar conditions. Great house, great neighborhood, and the price was right. But the house just seemed “too dark” for my buyers. And it was…lots of muted browns and tans.
If the home had been painted in neutral colors or off-whites it certainly would have spoken to these buyers more strongly.
I think the upshot is that while paint and carpet won’t add value to a home, what it will do is net a faster sale because the home will “speak” to more buyers that are on the fence about it, or are trying to decide between two houses.
If you’re thinking about buying a new house and you know you’ve got a week or two of painting ahead plus contracting for flooring before you can even move in, that’s a turn off.
Also, as in the examples at the very top of this article, if a home really does need paint and carpet, the buyer is going to take it off the asking price. Would you rather have the buyer take $5000 or $10,000 off the price because the home is not looking its best, or get full price?
Lastly, one of the reasons I stated for buyers never asking for paint and carpet is because they want to choose the colors and textures. But if you do it ahead of time, before they ever see the house, they will have no problem with it. Funny, isn’t it?
Image by Kablis. See the Kablis portfolio on Flickr.