This is a question I've faced many times in my career. Sometimes, the answer is a simple, "No, it really looks fine to me. I wouldn't bother." Other times, it's rather obvious that the carpet is in need of replacement before we can list the house. Maybe it's just really worn, with traffic patterns throughout, or maybe it looks like someone changed their oil in the living room.
Regardless of whether it's advisable to replace the carpet, here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind:
If you decide to replace carpet with different carpet, be very careful to select something neutral enough that it won't turn off potential buyers. I showed a house once with what appeared to be brand-new PURPLE carpet. It's hard to imagine this, but it actually looked okay with the seller's stuff. However, purple carpet doesn't have a broad market. Stick with something light (think tan colors).
If you go with carpet, get something high-grade and go ahead and upgrade the pad. The pad can make a noticeable difference when people are walking around the house.
Some people who have bad allergies want nothing to do with carpet, so you might really be better off going with hardwood flooring, or with a nice tile. PLEASE note that I said "nice" tile. Cheap tile can make the entire house look cheap, I promise you. Go with the larger tile, preferably laid at an angle. It looks way nicer.
Regardless of which type of flooring you decide on, I would strongly advise you to get it done professionally. I've shown hundreds of homes, and it's always easy to tell when someone attempted to do a "homemade" floor installation. I have had clients who are capable of doing this in a seamless way, but it's rare It might cost you a few extra bucks, but it will make a huge difference when you're looking to sell.
Flooring is not a good place to cut corners, since it's one of the main things that your potential buyers will focus on when they're looking at your home.
I hope this is helpful. If you're considering selling your home in the Austin area, please feel free to call or email me anytime. I would love the chance to help.
You can visit our website at http://www.austintexashomes.com to learn more about us, or to search the Austin MLS and set up automated home searches.
Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancoulter/
If you're looking for a home in the Austin area, you can also visit my primary website at www.austintexashomes.com. Thanks!