Flooring mistakes sellers make when putting their home on the market...According to Real Estate Agents

Home Builder with The Flooring Girl

This article may come in handy right now as it's spring, and many of your clients are about to put their houses on the market.  Take a look at some of the most common mistakes made...from a real estate agents' point of view. 


Note:  Some of these may make you laugh.


Originally posted at: The Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make When Selling Their House...according to real estate agents.



Over the last 10 years, I've seen tons of houses, and I've worked with so many new home buyers who are remodeling their newly purchased homes (after they close, but before they move in). I see some crazy things, and I hear so many buyers criticizing the flooring choices (as well as design choices) the sellers have made.  


Biggest flooring mistakes sellers make

It seems to me that many sellers are leaving money on the table. Sometimes, they are penny-wise pound foolish, sometimes they just don't know what will give them the best return on investment, sometimes, they don't plan ahead/don't have enough time, and sometimes, the homeowner simply doesn't have the money to prepare and optimize their house for sale. The result: They are leaving money on the table and often prolonging their time on the market.  


Note: I understand that most sellers generally want to spend the lowest amount possible to get the highest return. I also understand that some sellers can not spend ANY money until after the home closes, and I understand that some homeowners may be under water and therefore can't invest in their home.  


This article is not meant to criticize homeowners nor make judgments on their financial situation. Rather, it's to provide advice to those who are in a position to make minor improvements and to help guide sellers make smart decisions and smart investments.  


By the way, this article may come in handy: What types of flooring give you the best return on your investment?  


So, I turned to some experts when it comes to selling homes - several top real estate agents from across the country. They shared many mistakes and crazy things they've seen in homes that have been on the market. I'm sure you'll be nodding and realizing that you've seen many of this mistakes, and some of these may make you laugh.  



There are some common themes you'll see:

1) Don't Do-it-yourself. It's usually obvious. What does it say to the buyer? Simple, they need to pay to redo it (and delay their move in)  


2) Consult the experts! Their advice will help you make better selections on type of flooring as well as colors. Those experts could be a flooring contractor, stager, realtor or all of the above. And, you may find these articles helpful to know what's popular, stylish and practical.

 Please note that this article contains affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure in the right side bar (scroll down a bit).


You may recognize some of these contributors:  Bill Gassett , Anita Clark , Kyle Hiscock , Gay E. Rosen 


So, let's get started.  



Biggest Flooring Mistakes Realtors have seen from homes on the market

Laura Sheppe MillerLaura Miller - Scarsdale/Edgemont, NY Biggest Turn-offs

  • Shiny/glassy looking floors. Satin is preferred and more upscale. Many are cheapening the look of their floors with the dated semi gloss and glossy finishes. It almost looks like the floors are wet and you're afraid to step on them.


  • Hodgepodge of woods and colors. Sometimes this is a combo of species (e.g. Brazilian Cherry w/ oak), different widths, parquet or pegged floors. If there are too many differences, buyers are just ripping them up and starting from scratch (and yes, they factor that into how much they are willing to offer). Customers want uniformity.


  • Parquet flooring


  • Reds/cherry floors. Blondes are less popular but not as polarizing as reds. Many are asking how to drown out the red in Brazilian Cherry floors that are occasionally found in kitchens. In our area, dark hardwood is most popular and stylish, especially in higher end homes [side note from author: This may vary by area of country].


  • Carpet in the main living areas.




Dustin Brohm

Dustin Brohm - Salt Lake City, UT I've seen some sellers pick terrible flooring, trying to make it appeal to more people but actually doing the opposite. Usually it's just a poor color choice, but I have seen a seller tear out ALL carpet in a house and tile the whole damn thing. It was terrible, and very few buyers want tile throughout.  


They would do so much better if they consulted a flooring person, stager or realtor to see what's most popular for the area.


Brad OfficerBrad Officer - Jacksonville, Fl DIY anything! A novice/DIY wood or tile installer almost always produces a sub-par finished product. It's unfortunate that so many homeowners "practice" on their best asset.



Karen Holt HighlandKaren Holt Highland - Frederick, MD Ugh...mismatched flooring...every room different. U.G.L.Y. I think there are lots of those kinds of mistakes because homeowners don't consult anyone...they just do what they want.  







Bill GassettBill Gassett - Metrowest, MA   The worst is when a seller goes out and thinks that installing new cheap laminate floors is like adding hardwood - NOT! It actually makes the home much harder to sell as everyone hates Pergo.    






Mark SeidenMark Seiden - Briarcliff/Ossining, NY Everyone is looking for hardwood floors...even if they want carpet in some areas.   I'm amazed at how much faster houses sell when their floors are refinished prior to listing. And, they sell for more money. The only issue is that refinishing hardwood floors can be rather invasive if you already live in your home. If a house is vacant and no one is living there, it's ideal to refinish the floors before the house hits the market.  


Biggest Turnoffs:

  • Linoleum for sure.
  • The old bleached floors - they are so 80's.
  • Parquet (assuming it's the cheap parquet as opposed to the super chic parquet you find in some super high end and antique floors).
  • Inlaid floors with medallions (mixes of wood or tile) as they are too taste specific


Andrew FortuneAndrew Fortune - Colorado Springs, CO   How about carpet in the bathroom? That drives buyers nuts here! [Side note: I think it's a big turn-off everywhere, and I have come across this more often than you would think.]




Kinga MillsKinga Mills - Honolulu, HI My pet peeve is the stairs. Very few people actually buy proper stair pieces, in either laminate or hardwood, so they end up using trim pieces to finish the stairs off. That often looks unprofessional, and trim pieces are a trip hazard in many instances.    


Oh I have seen a trimmed out room too. A foot of hardwood around the perimeter of the room, with an area rug to cover the sub flooring in the middle.  


The best, however, was when the owners moved out and left the big 1.5 foot holes in the bathroom and bedroom floors that went all the way through the floors/ceiling. They used this for a grow-op. [I had to look this one up. Crazy.]


Gay Rosen - Larchmont and New Rochelle, NY Gay RosenOne of the most "off putting" things I'm seeing in homes for sale is a "mish mash" of colors in the home. There will be 3 or more different colors on the floors, so it doesn't have a continuous flow and makes the house looks smaller. It also signals to the buyer that they will need to spend more money to get the floors corrected. Floors should be consistent in color and sheen.



Joe SamsonJoe Samson - Calgary, AB I just saw this yesterday - The homeowner was going for the floating, soft feeling effect by installing laminate flooring over existing carpet. Or... they were just too lazy to remove the old carpet.  


Either way, some people just shouldn't be allowed to do DIY projects, as often it turns out that they do more harm than good. Unprofessionally completed projects can significantly decrease a home's value, and it leaves home buyers wondering about "what else is messed up in this house"?


Anita Clark RealtorAnita O'Grady Clark   Letting the kids paint the floors in their bedrooms. I have seen this twice and both times it was a disaster. [Say what? I haven't seen this one yet!]





Luanne KozakLuanne Kozak (Coldwell Banker) - Somers/Yorktown/Cortlandt Manor, NY   One thing is for sure...everyone wants hardwood and they are checking underneath the carpet to see if it's there.   Buyers are less concerned with the color of the wood. Instead, they just want to see that the house has wood. I'm hearing a lot of negatives about carpet.





Kyle HiscockKyle Hiscock - Rochester, NY   Working as a real estate agent in Rochester for over 6 years, I’ve seen quite a few flooring mistakes made by home sellers.  


The biggest mistake that I see made by sellers is replacing old flooring or carpet with new carpet or flooring just prior to a sale. Unless a home’s flooring or carpet is completely ruined, I always advise sellers to not spend the money on installing new carpeting or flooring because it's very possible the new owner will not like what you've installed.  


Instead, I typically recommend to a seller that we price the home accordingly to reflect the need for some new carpeting or flooring!  




So there you have it. Straight from the horse's mouth - some of biggest buyer turn-offs and mistakes home owners make when selling their home. Do you have any interesting stories to share? Leave them in the comments.  


Related Flooring Articles:



For more info, check out my Ebook - Discover the 6 Secrets to Refinishing Hardwood floors.

6 Secrets of Refinishing hardwood floors ebook

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The Biggest Flooring Mistakes Home Owners Make ... According to Real Estate Agents



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Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Debbie -- what an informative post/  This is a great topic.

Mar 22, 2017 09:02 PM #16
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Debbie Gartner , Superb Post and one that certainly offers some great information. As experience proves, taste is a very very subjective thing and when you think you have seen the worst, a new listing comes along and it's OMG time all over again, 

Mar 22, 2017 09:56 PM #17
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL - (561) 716-7824 - CRS, ABR, GRI

Great article and responses from the agents Debbie Gartner .  The only issue I see is that certain types of flooring  may be tied to an area.  For example, hardwood is very difficult to keep in south Florida and most people prefer tile or marble, as it stays cool.  Wood-grain tiles have also been popular of late, as they have the appearance of wood yet the feel of tile.

Mar 23, 2017 03:14 AM #18
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

The Flooring Expert has spoken and backed up with testimonials from agents what she said.

Great advice.

For all things flooring you won't do better than talking with Debbie Gartner 

Mar 23, 2017 03:17 AM #19
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Yes, this is great advice. I totally agree about parquet floors. I haven't seen them done well yet.

Mar 23, 2017 03:44 AM #20
Foster Smith Summerville
Carolina One Real Estate - Summerville, SC
Summerville & Charleston Homes for Sale SC Realtor

Great tips from the Flooring Expert! What a thorough and informative article. Thank you for sharing!

Mar 23, 2017 04:01 AM #21
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Buyers are looking for a reason to pay less. Sellers should avoid going cheap on floors to help them find a reason!

Mar 23, 2017 04:14 AM #22
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Jerry - Thx.  I'm so glad to hear that.

Anita - You are welcome.  Thanks so much for your help.

Cheryl - Yes, it's so obvious.  I completely agree.


Mar 23, 2017 04:26 AM #23
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Kathy - That is totally bizarre.

Sam - Oh yes, they should consult an expert, especially if they have lived in the home for a long time.  Sometimes, they have no idea what younger buyers are looking for as well as which areas should be updated vs. which are a waste.


Mar 23, 2017 04:47 AM #24
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Anyone planning to sell his home should read this.

Mar 23, 2017 05:10 AM #25
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.AtHomesCharlotte.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Oh, you nailed this one, @Debbie!  I can site countless times that a home that would have had hardwoods would have sold in a hot New York minute but, their laminate/floating flooring home languished on the market.  That additional time on the market cost them far more than having installed quality flooring in the beginning!  Happy Thursday, Debbie!

Mar 23, 2017 06:03 AM #26
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

One of my buyers just closed on a sweet deal because the sellers left dated flooring in the home. The house ended up being on the market for 200 days and sold for $45K under original list price. My clients put in 5" plank espresso solid hardwoods on the entire main floor (4,000 SF home). It cost the buyers $16K but the home is stunning. I think I could easily sell this home for close to $100K more than my buyers paid for it. That's how much of a difference the right flooring can make in a home

Mar 23, 2017 06:38 AM #27
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

It' nice to see an article with current updates on flooring trends.  It ma be different in a few years, but for now, this is what's happening.

And . . . laminate over carpeting!  Speechless!

Mar 23, 2017 07:22 AM #28
April Swenson
Coldwell Banker Ocean Shores Brokers - Ocean Shores, WA
CRS and Managing Broker - Ocean Shores Real Estate

Or, even laminate in a bathroom. You need to have a continuous floor because moisture and water, over time, gets into the cracks and causes rot....I've seen it too often. So, tile would be best (or even the upgraded vinyl, which I know is a bad word to some, but there are some really nice, expensive vinyl flooring available).

Mar 23, 2017 10:10 AM #29
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

The laminated wood is so affordable than carpeting. It is cheaper to put solid hardwood floor. The darker color finish can reveal dust presence. Lighter color can concel it.

Mar 23, 2017 05:16 PM #30
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

We don't think about floors that much.  If they're good, they don't get anything other than a "that's nice" and then we move on to other aspects of the house.  However, if the floors are noticed for all the wrong things, we stay glued to them and the rest of the house doesn't matter as much. 


Mar 24, 2017 07:09 AM #31
Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line

Good post with advice for sellers to take to heart.

Mar 24, 2017 07:55 AM #32
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This woman commands the subject matter quite well

Mar 24, 2017 09:04 AM #33
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Hi Debbie: It can be challenging explaining to a seller who just installed laminate a few years ago that they have ruined the house. Pergo especially.

I'm working with sellers who have carpeting halfway into their bath and small 4-inch tile in the rest. I'm trying to get them to install oversized ceramic and they are resisting. I probably won't take the listing because they aren't listening to me, and it will just get worse down the road.

Mar 24, 2017 09:25 AM #34
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Hi Debbie, I am always so glad when the seller asks me first before they go spend a lot of money on new floors. Replacing carpet is usually one of the worst things they can do. Buyers want wood and often tear the new carpet right back out.

As for laminates, some of our premium builders are using it in their $300,000 plus homes. They tell me the buyers prefer it. It looks so good I actually have to touch it to know the difference. Maybe it is region specific but if it is the right laminate it is making sales for builders.


Mar 24, 2017 12:18 PM #35
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The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers
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