Just to clarify the other good answers.
Do it for your benefit and taste
Don't try to guess what the next buyer will want
Don't try to recoup your expense when you resell, i.e. if it needs updating it does either wood or carpet
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I don't think it necessarily has to be "hardwood" myself. You see lots of fabulous engineered flooring these days in "top of the line" homes, as well as the product of choice for the rest of us. Hardwood does, however, matter more if the you are trying to be "true to a certain vintage". The answer to this question would be specific to 1) why you are considering wood flooring? 2) How long you'll be in the home? 3) What is conforming for your particular neighborhood/vintage/etc? 4) Cost of the project?
Wood flooring is quite popular now and has a high "return on investment" (ROI).
Best of luck,
Janeese Jackson, Principal Broker
Real Estate Resource
If you are going to live in the home for some time, you should have it the way that you want it, if wood floors is what you want then get them. If you are going to be selling the home, while it will probably help to sell, you will most likely not recoup all the cost of the wood floors plus the install. So the real answer to the question is in personal preference. Overall, wood and tile will last longer than carpeting and if you suffer from allergies it may help. Keep in mind though that real wood dents, scratches and does show age over time. Enjoy your home while you live in it is my advice and input.
Wow! This is a good question... Hmmm... Cost effective... To you or me? I would have your Realtor do two C.M.A.'s... One showing the adjustment for wood floors and one not. That's what I would do. =)
For the short term.......carpet definitely has the edge!
If you don't already have wood floors, then aren't we looking at a 1970s-1990s "contemporary?" In which case, for "cost effectiveness," I would ask your agent and a designer to collaborate on ideas.
As others have pointed out, life's too short to live with floors you hate, regardless of how "cost effective" it might be.
Good answers! My added insight is that hardwoods or high quality engineered flooring is a good investment in your home. It is easier to keep clean and looks wonderful. And it can be quite cost effective to install. None the less, I am not one to require an unnecessary expense if you are preparing your home for marketing right now. It will sell, and you may see offers come in more quickly, but it has not been my experience that you will recoup your investment if you are only doing it for resale purposes.
My suggestion is to take a good look at your home over all. If your current flooring (which I am assuming is carpet) is worn through...then replacing it might be necessary. You can compare the cost of purchasing and installing hardwoods or engineered flooring vs putting in a new carpet. If you are going to be living in your home for a while, even as little as another year, then if you love hardwood floors by all means install them.
Karla Divine, Broker
Divine NW Realty