granite too upscale?

lyviaJanuary 18, 2012


I know I have to redo my kitchen cabinets, as stained formica with chrome edges seems to be a tad outdated. The appliances are white, with a chip or two, but fine. This is a starter home, a small 4 bedroom colonial, no basement, 1 car garage, on a 1/3 acre in a pleasant safe community. There is a LR, DR, Fam R, but smallish kitchen and no breakfast area.

So we are headed for white Ikea cabinets, and home depot level. Do we have to do granite? Is there a cheaper way? I have a mental block about getting granite for somebody else after living with chrome for twenty years.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To ensure a quick sale in a market like this, I tell my clients that your house needs a couple of "WOW" factors. Granite in a mid level home could be one of yours. Price could be another. Or a hot tub. Or over the top landscaping, or custom paint or anything that buyers in this price range do not expect to see.
Santa Cecelia granite looks good, goes with almost all kitchen styles, and can be found on sale almost all the time.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 6:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would just do a nice-looking laminate. You can get prefab slabs at HD or Lowe's for $100.

Good point from NC about the "wow" factor, though. I'm hoping for us it's the heated tile floors. :-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 7:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Where I live, granite is expected. Quartz gives the Wow factor. I would not put in laminate.. it would turn me off as a buyer and I'd wonder where else you cheaped out. But granite with IKEA cabinets would be lovely.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 7:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I know I have to redo my kitchen cabinets, as stained formica with chrome edges seems to be a tad outdated. "

Why do you "know" you have to upgrade your kitchen? It rarely makes financial sense to do major renovations for sale. The money just doesn't work out 99% of the time. Unless you are doing 100% of the work yourself or get some incredible deal on some "wow" item, you are likely to lose money. The only thing that usually pays off is fixing things that are broken.

You are better off just getting rid of all the junk, cleaning everything spotlessly, and putting a fresh coat of paint on anything that looks worn. Use the extra money to price aggressively.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 8:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What do your neighbors have? Granite would be a wow factor for most entry level homes around here.

If you put in granite, are you going to add a nice backsplash also?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with bill ... the best WOW factor for me is a good location, spotlessly clean, in good repair. Price it realistically for the neighborhood and the state of the kitchen, and think of the money you aren't spending and the time you are saving.

Here's the problem with the granite, the spa and the over the top landscaping ... granite has ceased to WOW people and it locks them into color choices they might not like, spas are a white elephant in most climates as well as a hazard to small children, and the landscaping suggests lots of yard work will be necessary.

And buyers will wonder how much of that WOW factor they are paying for ... only to have to pay extra to rip it out and replace it to get the house they really wanted.

We are redoing our counters but only because the 1980s laminate is peeling and bubbling. Replacing with butcherblock for an ecologically sensitive choice and I'm going to point that out in the ads.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Agree with LazyGardens. Do something with landscape or color selection and go with basic counter-tops.

I don't think anyone will walk away disgusted from a nice/modern kitchen vs. it must be granite for a starter. Typically, the combination with granite include stainless steel appliances, amazing faucet, sink, etc. etc.

Granite & hottub adds little WOW value to your appraisal and comps so it may get someone to bid on your home but not going to gain you more money in price vs. the other homes. Typically, the ROI is more vanity vs. value.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Are you redoing the kitchen solely to sell? If so, do you really need to get new cabinets or could you just paint the ones you have?

I personally would probably be inclined to not replace cabinets or counters at all unless the cabinets are really non-functional as opposed to just outdated or ugly. If outdated/ugly you can do a lot to improve them by painting them and putting on some inexpensive but more modern pulls. Then, if laminate is common in your competitors I would stick with the laminate.

On the other hand if you are going to the expense of new cabinets then I would probably do an inexpensive granite. When we were getting our house ready to sell (not a starter home though) we replaced the cultured marble in the master bath and half bath with granite and I was actually surprised at how inexpensive it was.

As someone currently looking at houses I've come across houses with granite or Silestone, houses with Corian-like counters and houses with laminate or tile. With the latter I know I have to factor in expense to rip out and put something else in (again, not a starter home). With the granite/Silestone - the color may not be my favorite but usually it is nice and I feel it will do. The least favorite are the Corian-like houses. They look fairly nice but I don't want it and have to convince my DH to buy a house and then rip out a perfectly nice countertop....

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My advice to get a couple of WOW factors in the home is not so that the seller can make a profit on it... they will not. But, in most markets today, 50% of listed homes will fail to sell. I recommend WOW factors not for the profitablility, but for the marketability. Even though you will not gain a 1:1 return on the investment, you will make money on the addition... how? Because a buyer is going to discount what it is going to cost to replace the kitchen and then double that amount. That is the discount the buyer will take off of the offer. It is just how a buyer's math works. If they think the kitchen redo is $7500, they will offer $15000 less.
A dirty, outdated, small kitchen will turn off buyers big time, and the buyers that do make an offer will be discounting in a big way.
Lazygardens... granite DOES wow buyers still, especially when they do not expect to see it. Nice landscaping does not have to equate to more yardwork. And no buyer is going to care that your cabinets are butcherblock. They will care that they are new and look nice.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 1:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think I'd default to granite in a modest home, especially if it's not standard in the neighborhood. This is tricky, but I think these things also have to fit in with the style of the house and the style of the room. And we can go back and forth on what that means, but I think we can all agree that there are certain houses where granite is a better fit than in other houses.

Why not go with butcher block? I like butcher block countertops myself and I seem to remember that IKEA offers several types at a more than reasonable price point.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suspect that butcher block will turn off way more people than a basic granite. I know that I might buy a house with granite, Silestone, soapstone, Corian or similar (will replace although perhaps not immediately), tile (will replace fairly quickly), or laminate (will replace before moving in). I might buy a house with butcher block but would certainly replace before moving in. It may not be rational but the idea of a wood counter top just gives me the creeps. It doesn't seem sanitary and I don't want it.

I would suspect my feeling on that is more common than the person who says "Ugh, I hate granite in this starter home. It would be so much more appropriate to have laminate."

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What do the houses you are competing with for buyers have?

All you have to do is be more appealing than them.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I heard a story on NPR about a realtor/investor that was putting granite in her section 8 rental rowhouses.
So apparently, no, in answer to your post title, granite is not "upscale" anymore.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 5:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

C9, that ia a very sweeping, generalizing comment. It all depends on the local market. If buyers are not necessarily expecting granite, then, yes, it is considered upscale for that person.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 6:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Consider using granite overlay for the countertops instead of slap granite. It is easily half the price.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Actually wood butcher blocks are naturally anti-bacterial and I read in a meat cutter's trade magazine, cultures off clean wooden meat blocks scored better than some of the modern materials facilities replaced them with. That being said, I once bought a home with wooden butcher block counters. They looked spectacular for a very short until I actually used them. I had to do all the food prep on glass boards because they stained and marred from sharp objects. I had to sand them down to clean them up. Argh.

I don't like granite, but that is a personal thing.....and no, I wouldn't tear it out of a home, but I'd growl decorating around it because it's limiting and certain natural patterns are busy. And some of the grossest ones are the most expensive. But, yeah, thanks to HGTV everyone thinks they're as necessary as electric lights and running water.

If you only need small sections of counter top, you can often get granite pieces left over, or rejected because of defects and have it re-cut.

I personally go with the spotlessly clean and in good repair mindset for a starter home. There are cheaper wow factors than a granite counter top. As usual, look at your competition and pony up to it.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the input!
seems like a lot of neighbors have remodeled with granite. The kitchen is 11x11 with three doors, so I would only need a little. There is a cabinet with a wobbly frame, and one that we close with rubber bands. And the obligatory melted finish over the range.
gotta go to work, thanks again

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 6:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can usually find Santa Cecilia for less than $20 installed.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 11:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Santa Cecilia is a nice looking granite. I like it a lot better than the Tan Brown that you often see for inexpensive granite. In fact, I just looked at a house last week (in an above average price range) that had been redone with Santa Cecilia and I considered it a big plus for the house.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you can get granite for a reasonable price I don't think it is too upscale for even starter type homes. It is seen by most people looking for houses as a big plus.

I do hate to see nice granite put on obviously old and dated cabinets, though. But since you are getting new cabinets I think granite will be a nice selling feature.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I heard a story on NPR about a realtor/investor that was putting granite in her section 8 rental rowhouses.

That could actually make sense in a rental. Initial cost would be higher, but granite is much more durable than laminate, so shouldn't have to be replaced as often - or ever.

And as far as the overlays go, you can often get an inexpensive granite for less than the overlays. And with granite, inexpenisve does not necessarily mean lower quality. Some granites are more expensive because of scarcity, but don't perform any better. In fact many of the common, less expensive granites are more durable.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 2:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"And as far as the overlays go, you can often get an inexpensive granite for less than the overlays."

That has been my experience. The slab granite price was cheaper. Now, in a different new home, I chose to replace laminate with soapstone and a deep single black Blanco sink and love it.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My section 8 comment was supposed to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Guess I needed to clarify that these were inner-city Baltimore row homes, to my recollection, and the realtor was justifying use of granite by saying something like, section 8 renters should have nice amenities, too, which to me meant that " apparently" (tongue-in-cheek) granite is not too upscale for anybody.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 6:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will admit I am an odd duck. I don't like granite or stainless steel appliances or open concept au currant whatever the latest and greatest are whining about on HGTV. It really irritates me when I see starter home couples or my first placers going on and on about their list of must haves and discount a home because they don't like the paint color or wall paper or some such nonsense.

I think clean and in good repair is more important. Nothing to me is more odd than seeing granite countertops on obviously old cabinetry.

If you are replacing cabinets, use whatever kind of counter tops are in keeping with the overall style and condition of your home and neighborhood. If you feel that granite will give you and edge over your competition, just pick something neutral or non busy, if it fits your budget.

Good Luck.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have been shopping for a home and the kitchens are the biggest problem for me. Some put granite on old cabinets, even cut out for the old, rusty sink. Makes no sense and I factor in tearing it all out.

There are the kitchen which are all white, which I hate more than anything. White cabinets, white Corian, white appliances, white tile floors - feels like an operating room.

I have tried to figure out how to deal with both these problems. Sell the new, white appliances?

I would prefer to put in my own kitchen. I mentally factor in the cost of ripping out the kitchen and deduct that from the asking price. It is hard to justify doing that when the kitchen has new cabinets, counters and white appliances. In that circumstance, I walk away from the house.

I would prefer a clean, well-kept home and let me do the updating of both kitchen and baths.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 11:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we were shopping for our home we automatically eliminated homes with new granite slapped down on older cabinets, as well as totally "new for sale" kitchens that were not to our taste (which was almost all of them we saw). We figured we would be paying for these items in the sale price, and it wouldn't pay for us to redo them.

We were specifically looking for a home that was in great shape-- except with a kitchen in need of updating. And that's what we ended up buying.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 7:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Where can you get Santa Cecilia granite for $20 installed?
Certainly not in our neck of the woods~

    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 5:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Panda Kitchen here in Charlotte... I don't know if they are franchised or not. That is $20/sq. ft. now...

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 7:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i'm not convinced that granite is necessarily the way to go.
but it has come down in price, and there are deals out there that'd make it a worthy investment.
that said, i've seen candace olsen use laminate in one of her kitchen counters.
if it is neutral enough, nothing wrong with some of the laminates out there.
when people move in a house, i think the ideal is to be able to live with it 'as is'.
and so, if your house is clean, freshly painted, not in disrepair, and neutral...
that'd be your safest and wisest bet.
there is nothing worse than hating a newly renovated kitchen, and having to change it to your liking.
maybe changing cabinet doors might be a compromise.
if there's a great sale on (neutral) granite, go with it.
otherwise, laminate has come a long way and many won't be turned off by a new countertop, laminate or otherwise.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 8:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ncrealestateguy said, "granite DOES wow buyers still, especially when they do not expect to see it."

Like the brand new, baby-poop yellow-brown granite that was in two of the houses I rejected? I think I may have said, "Oh, wow, let's get out of here."

The house we bought has laminate ... and it's on the shabby side. We'll replace it in a couple of years with something we really like.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We recently looked at a house that had just last month put in a fairly nice granite and backsplash. Not entirely my taste but acceptable. However, the cabinets were very much not to my taste and the kitchen needed some other remodeling as well (a bad prior remodeling job). The thing is that I know that I in effect am paying for the new granite -- the sellers didn't increase their price when they put it in. However, had they not put it in, then maybe they would have dropped the price. But -- I don't want those cabinets and the kitchen needs remodeling. So, if I bought it then I have to rip out that new granite which is aggravating...

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lazygarden... I would be very surprised if your decision to NOT buy this house was due to the poopy granite.
No one here has advised the OP to install some unique or unusual type of granite.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 7:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kats, you are so right. I'm seeing all over. Granite on top of old, worn cabinets. They even cut it around the old sink. Same people put granite on top of old bathroom vanities, and leave the old pink/blue sinks. It seems they think people will be so thrilled with the granite, they overlook the old stuff.

Makes no sense, a big waste of time and money.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well... yeah!!! If you're trying to decide whether or not to upgrade from laminate to poopy yellow granite with Fiesta Ware - like sinks, then yeah, it is a stupid idea. If you replace laminate with a nice nuetral granite, then, yes, it will increase the marketability of your home.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 5:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we purchased our first house almost 7 yrs ago, the only updating the sellers did was fresh paint & the kitchen-it's not large, w/ basic oak cabinets, but it had new ss appliances, tiled floor & backsplash, & granite countertops. I loved it on first sight! The bathrooms are still dated, but functional, we've replaced the tile w/ oak floors, & I still love the granite countertops-maybe not my first choice of color, but I love that it is Kashmir gold, because Kashmir was the name of our beloved golden retriever who moved in w/ us, but has since passed away....I vote 'yes' for granite, but it's only one component-general condition of the house & neighborhood are much more important...

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did anyone else see this article in the Washington Post about granite?

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to article

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 7:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are two groups of houses going on the market.
There are people that HAVE to sell the home even if they lose money. Only you know how much money you can afford to lose (or make) if you HAVE to sell... This is a very personal decision.
There are people that WANT to get a certain price and they will not sell below that price. Obviously, they don't need to sell. For these folks, they have time to dink around and see what happens to the house when it is not 'perfect' for a buyer.

If you are someone that HAS to sell even if you lose money (for many this is the case...), then your product has to be as good as the next house at a better price. If spending $2000 on granite gives you the edge, then it may be the difference between selling versus not being able to sell at all. You and your seasoned real estate agent has to really do the market research to know where this point is for each market...

I look at houses all the time because I am always looking for an investment. This is an ugly market out there. I see houses that have failed to sell for 2 to 4 years. Because of the internet, I can see the exact history of what has happened to the house. (on the market, off the market, on and off again etc.) The market history is extremely transparent. NCrealestate guy is right in that 50% or so of the houses fail to sell at all after several months.

The scary thing about that is that if the house does not sell quickly the first time around, the house wears a badge of 'unsellable'. People wonder why it did not sell and serious buyers only look at fresh products and pass up the stale inventory.

Another factor is that a buyer will NOT have the money to redo the kitchen/bath for many many years because they can't borrow the money. There are no equity loans etc. So the buyer has to imagine living in this house AS IS for many years. There are very few buyers out there that can/will put in the sweat equity and are looking for a fixer upper. So if you are selling a fixer upper, it has to be steeply discounted for a very limited number of buyer. (not a good marketing strategy)

Even if a buyer puts in the sweat equity, there is no guarantee that they can turn around and sell it at all. So the risk is too high for most people. That type of buyer is GONE!

Put your mental block aside and just do what has to be done so you can sell. Educate yourself about the local market. Once you are knowledgible about the market, you will feel better about your decision.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think a lot of this comes down to your market. I lived in another city for 10 years where laminate was not acceptable to buyers (even in a laundry room) and stone surfaces were required to get anyone to view your home (as stupid as that is, that's how it was). I now live in an area where most kitchens and bathrooms are still done in laminate- and that surprises me, too. So, when it comes to selling, I think you have to know your market really well.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 8:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I live in a "cookie cutter" neighborhood and I just updated my "builder grade" kitchen. I couldn't afford new cabinets, but I put in new SS appliances and granite countertops.

As a home buyer, which look would you prefer?

Here is a link that might be useful: More b&a pictures/Complete DIY blog

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 6:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mrs. Shayne, I think that both your kitchens look nice, however I prefer the first kitchen. I prefer wood cabinets, esp. light oak and cherry. I also like the white appliances and the laminate countertop isn't bad - except for that brown line around the edge! It is tacky. Also, the shiny metal tile things on the walls under the cabinets is horrid! I would just prefer an off-white, painted surface.

The 2nd kitchen has a nice, modern look overall, and I very much like the white cabinets, however still prefer the wood. I do NOT like granite, it is dark heavy and oppressive to me, however no doubt there are some nice colors.

I don't like stainless appliances at all. Reminds me of being in a restaurant or food servies kitchen. Blech.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 5:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Beautiful job. I would pay more for the updated kitchen!

I would need to update the first kitchen, would take that cost into account with my offer or walk away.

I lived with golden oak cabinets for 30 years and would not do it again.

Again, beautiful job!


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I prefer kitchen #1.
I LOVE wood cabinets. If the appliances already there are not adequate, it is easier to replace appliances than to replace all the cabinets.

We have these wood look cabinets in our new house. In my long term plan is to replace them with something that looks more like your kitchen #1!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We are hopefully going to move in a year or two, and when we did our budget diy kitchen 2 yrs ago, we decided that granite was worth it, since we wanted to replace the counters anyway. I think it was about $1k more than new laminate would have been.

I know that there a lot of differing opinions about countertop choices, so I just went with what I loved best (and I spent A LOT of time with this decision). I know that there are many strong opinions about painted cabinets as well, but again, we decided to change the look of our current cabinets instead of installing new stained ones.

I'm sure there will be those that would want to rip it out if it were their kitchen, but I think we did a good job with our choices and I'm crossing my fingers that someone who walks through will fall in love with it and our kitchen will help sell our condo when the time comes!


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:36PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Moving to make room for mom?
My mother is getting to the age where she should not...
Retiree - rent or buy home
We are newly retired and have a plan to sell our current...
escrow account for a repair
We received an offer on our house! The house is priced...
Seller isn't signing the sale contract
Land has been on the market for 1.5 yrs and asking...
Should we buy a home that was unoccupied for 6 years?
There is a cup-de-sac where a builder built 5 homes,...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™