The family I'm working with wants to live in or near Lake Junaluska just outside of Waynesville, NC. The neighborhood should be like money in the bank for sellers...or so they think. Doesn't it seem reasonable that all the seller should have to do is throw a sign in the yard and slam dunk, call it sold? Well, yeah...sort of...as long as the seller has kept up with updating and routine maintenance since the 70s when most of these homes were built. We only looked at two houses in Lake Junaluska last week but both suffered mightily from dark wood paneling overdose.
Both of the houses looked intriguing and full of possibilities from the outside. Both had been freshly painted in the past couple of years and both had great landscaping. The first one was dismissed because of floorplan. The house had sufficient square feet for a growing family but for our buyers with two small children, there was only two bedrooms on the main floor and it seemed like a poor choice to relegate the six year old child to a basement bedroom.
We approached the second home and the buyers were excited. They loved the exterior and the landscaping. "This might be the house I love" said Mrs. Buyer. "I think this has possibilities". I finally found the hidden keys in the "Hands of God" flower planter and opened the basement door. We stepped inside and found ourselves in a dark paneling vortex. "It's so old" exclaimed Mrs. Buyer. Indeed. It didn't matter that everything seems to have been kept up over the years but it sure mattered that every vertical surface in the house had dark wooden paneling. I don't know what the inspiration was for the song from "Hair"..."Let the Sun Shine In" came from, but houses like this could easily do it.
Sellers of vintage houses from the 1960s and 70s, if you do nothing else you might want to consider letting the sunshine in by replacing that paneling with drywall. Yes, it will cost money but not half as much as your house sitting on the market not selling! The eyes of the buyers will always be drawn to the predominate challenge to the house. The buyers from last week could get past the paneling to see if the rest of the house would fit their needs but most buyers cannot not.
Buyers still have a large pool of houses to choose from. If your house was built in the 60s and 70s, you are at a disadvantage already...don't compound it by refusing to do the simplest of upgrades. Get rid of the old carpet, dated draperies, ceiling tiles, retro wallpaper and vinyl flooring and for sure that dark wood paneling. Listen to your listing agent, they are not trying to hurt your feelings - they are trying to sell your house.
Did you hear that? Yes, the 70s called and they want their paneling back!