St. Louis Home Buyers Get Picky About Home Condition

St. Louis sellers who prepare their home for market get higher offers

Home sellers in St. Louis are discovering just how choosy home buyers can be. Despite reduced home inventories, home buyers are holding out for properties that are updated and move-in ready. The trend may be surprising home sellers who thought they were in the midst of a seller's market, but the buyers are not reacting favorably to their home.

Mark Gellman, co-founder of The Gellman Team, explains that part of the issue is simple economics. "With today's historically-low interest rates, most buyers would rather leverage their purchase power and buy the nicest possible home, instead of facing updates and repairs that would come out-of-pocket after closing. For example, buying home with an updated kitchen or finished lower level might cost them $30,000 more - but at today's rates that's only $140 a month."

Unfortunately, some home sellers attempt partial upgrades in hopes of justifying a higher price. Neil Gellman explains why this doesn't work. "Short cuts are not the solution. There is no benefit to adding granite countertops to a kitchen with old appliances and old cabinets. A seller may think that by adding granite to an outdated kitchen, they can price the home higher. But in reality, they now have an outdated kitchen that is overpriced. The same is true for bathrooms; it's counter-productive to add costly upgrades, and leave original brass fixtures and brass shower surrounds.

Home sellers may choose to not make updates because they fear making a mistake by choosing the wrong paint color or carpeting. However, The Gellman Team recommends painting rooms and replacing worn carpeting with neutral, contemporary colors, such as earth tones. Lighter shades, such as tan or sand, are ideal for making small rooms appear more spacious.

Vacant homes are not exempt from needing updates, and for best results on the market, they should be staged with furnishings and neutral decor. "Vacant homes that are staged present a better first impression to buyers," says Neil Gellman. "Staging also reduces the distraction that can be caused by minor cosmetic issues."

Mark Gellman emphasizes that home sellers should make necessary updates before placing their homes in the market. "Here's an example. Always remove wallpaper or be prepared to reduce the price. We consistently see homes with old wallpaper linger on the market. Eventually the home is taken off the market, the wallpaper is removed, and the home is re-branded. We monitor these homes, and in many cases they are selling for 10 percent less than what they would have, if the wallpaper had been removed in the first place. The home's first impression as a new listing cannot recaptured. You can try to re-brand with new carpet, paint, granite and so on, but it isn't as effective after the home has already been on the market."

The Gellman Team offers the following home improvement suggestions for St. Louis home sellers:

1. Consider a home pre-inspection and make repairs

2. Remove wallpaper

3. Paint rooms with neutral colors

4. Replace outdated appliances with stainless steel appliances

5. Replace carpeting in bathrooms with ceramic tile

6. Re-glaze old bathtubs

7. Use brushed nickel or bronze finishes when replacing fixtures

8. Use granite when replacing countertops

9. Replace carpeting if wear patterns or stains exist

10. Refinish damaged hardwood floors

11. Remove clutter

12. Service air conditioner and furnace

13. Pay attention to landscaping and curb appeal

14. Re-seal driveway, repair or replace broken concrete

The Gellman Team at Coldwell Banker Premier Group provides real estate services to home buyers and sellers throughout St. Louis and the surrounding area. They stand among the top 10 teams for all Coldwell Banker affiliates in North America. They are ranked #1 in the greater St. Louis are out of approximately 9,000 agents. For more information about The Gellman Team, visit their website at or call 314-336-1991.