Should I have it painted before selling? Opinions wanted!

mlrprincetonApril 14, 2014

We're looking to list by the end of next month. My question is: Should I have it painted before listing?

Will probably list for something like $265,000 to give you a frame of reference.

I got one quote from a painter for $3,000. (It's a relatively expensive state.) I might try to get other quotes and see if I can get a painter for $2500 but I know from friends that I'm not going to find a painter for much cheaper around here.

Painting it ourselves it not an option. Also I'm going to ask you guys for suggestions on what, if anything, to do with the kitchen cabinets and maybe some other "staging" type questions but right now I just need to know whether to contract with a painter.

It's the early 1990's builder-grade, the paint and trim are all the same pale yellow/white/beige and it's cracking around the doorframes. It looks gross to me but then again the Realtor told us the average buyer spends a mere 15 minutes in a house before deciding whether to offer so maybe these things aren't so noticeable to justify a 3k investment in just paint. Pics below. Please tell me what you guys think!!

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If your real estate market is so hot that people only spend 15 minutes before they make an offer to buy a house for 256K, and presumably skip an inspection, I'd say to go for it.
However, you say that it looks gross to you, and I'd assume that there are plenty of buyers who will offer substantially less or may make an offer on a property that looks in tip-top shape.

So, I'd say to get it painted in one of the popular colors like BM Edgecombe Gray or Manchester Tan. You can get less expensive paint color matched. I'd sign up for Angie's List and get one of their special deals, like a week of house painting for 999.00, or find a lower bid.

In terms of staging, I'd clean up and declutter as much as possible. Check out advice on staging for resale on and post on the decorating forum.

What buyer do you think would be most likely to be interested in your home?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Personally, I would paint it. I would consider it a fixer upper if it weren't. It needs to be at least move in ready with a clean look to it.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:14PM
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Can you paint the "main rooms" (LR, Kitchen, dining, hall) but not the bedrooms?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:40PM
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I would think the average buyer can easily decide to not buy a house after 15 minutes, or even less. Deciding TO buy your house is completely different, and unless it's going to be bought by someone as a cheap rental, they're going to be looking closer at things. If you're competing against other similar homes at a similar price with new paint, you will lose. So, while the paint may not get you an extra $3k, it may very well make the difference between a quick sale or no sale.

Not to mention the fact that any staging you try to do will make a much bigger difference against freshly painted walls in a popular color.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:50PM
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An investment in neutral paint will be the biggest bang for your buck for a relatively small investment. I wouldn't think of showing a home with those kinds of cracks in the wall. Mainly because, depending on the price range, you will be competing with new builds. Going into those homes can be a rather shocking contrast if you have even a small collection of unfinished projects.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:41PM
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Make sure your painting quote includes repairing, patching and priming those cracks and dents or you'll just get the same "gross" details in a brand new color. Don't assume the painters will do repairs on their own.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:49AM
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Thanks -- great advice all. Pretty much unanimous that painting is a must.

No Soccer Mom - you ask good questions! This is a crazy area--it took me a while to get used to the real estate prices. Not particularly hot at the moment, just high cost of living here. This isn't even a house--it's just a 2 bedroom, 1200 sq ft condo! Some people do buy these things and rent them out but I don't want to be a landlady. They get about $1700 a month in rent.

I feel like a lot of my neighbors are young families with a small child with some single people thrown in. This town is known for a good school system. I guess you could say it would attract people who don't really have the time or inclination to start doing a bunch of repairs--you could probably say that about condos in general. So.. I see your point--don't want people to walk in and start mentally calculating all the work they'd have to do.

Three Pink Trees--Yes! I think that's probably more accurate. It's easy when you're walking through a house to reject it right away based on whatever personal preferences.. I've done that in even just a few minutes. But the house we did end up buying, we made a couple of trips and spent a while in there each time, with hubby looking carefully in the basement, etc.

Once I get it cleaned up a bit I'm going to ask you guys your opinions of the kitchen, which is also early 90's builder grade. Too embarrassed to show it to you guys now.
Wish I could personally thank every member of Garden Web because you guys are so helpful and I've learned so much at every step of the buying/renovating/selling process from you guys.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 6:57AM
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It sounds like you answered your question:
Relatively high cost, so I'm assuming people are working, i.e. don't have a lot of time.
Relatively young.

I assume that this means that they are looking for move-in ready and, sorry for my stereotyping, they don't care as much about super quality but rather a more superficially "nice, updated" look. Think Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, granite, SS.

So, for oak cabinets, I'd say to either paint the cabinets white (a lot of work) or gel stain in a dark espresso. It's very easy with General Finishes Espresso. And add new hardware.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:54AM
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No Soccer Mom! I wanted to thank you! All the hours and hours I have spent reading GardenWeb, especially the kitchen forums, and I have never come across the General Finishes Gel Stain product. Thank you for mentioning it! It sounds like it might just be the answer to the sad builder grade orange oak cabinets here.

My husband refuses to help paint (he works a lot of hours including most weekends, which is why we can't realistically paint the whole place ourselves in time to have it listed by June) but he did say he'd look into helping me do the cabinets with this.

This might inspire me to clean my kitchen tonight enough to get a kitchen "before" photo up here, and then we can gel stain and I'll put up an "after." Maybe. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 6:48PM
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LongTime, google gardenweb and gel stain, and there will be lots of threads popping up with step-by-step directions and pictures. The gardenweb search function is not as good as just to google.

I gel stained a bathroom vanity and have to say it's pretty addictive. The first coat was really scary because it was all blotchy but then after coat no. 2, it was really nice.

Alternatively, check out this oak kitchen, no painting required :) They're linking to a tutorial on how to add the crown molding from the link below. Of course, I have no idea how complicated it is to add a crown.



Here is a link that might be useful: updating oak kitchen

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:39PM
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asm198 - Zone 6a (MO)

I wouldn't reject a home that didn't have painted walls or a builder's grade kitchen, but I would bid less than the asking price, unless I really wanted to be in that specific area.

When we were in the market for a home, I paid little attention to paint color, unless it was a bold color. What I did notice were light switches. I realize it's personal preference, but I dislike the bone/off white light switches and that would make me look at the rest of the house with a more critical eye.

Again, personal preference, but I would paint the walls a neutral grey or a slightly darker than neutral tan/brown, paint the trim a semi-gloss white and have the light switches and outlets be white.

To me, that would give the place a clean, freshened up look and would give you an advantage over other places that might be for sale in the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 6:07PM
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