Will you help me sell my house???

mpagmomMarch 10, 2013

I'll try to make my long sob story short. We sold our house the first day it was on the market, but then the deal fell through due to the buyer's job loss just before closing. Unfortunately, we'd just moved everything out, but we didn't worry too much because the buyer said he had a verbal offer of a new job and we would close when he got the written offer. That never happened so we put some furniture back in the house to make it look not so empty, but by then it was almost Thanksgiving and Christmas and the housing market was slow. We were the second choice house at least 3 times. One couple looked at it FOUR times before buying a higher priced house. Grrrr. Anyway, it's off the market for a short time while we try to figure out what to do. It's a nice house in a good neighborhood, but I feel like now that it's been on the market for so long that it's tainted and we'll never get a good price for it. They say kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, and this isn't a kitchen that will necessarily sell a house. It's smallish for the price range, but has maple cabinets, a nice laminate countertop, and a nice backsplash. It has a vinyl floor that is in OK condition. Houses in our neighborhood do not have granite countertops, but we end up competing against a lot of houses that do. When I mentioned to a prospective real estate agent that it would cost $3000 (including a new undermount stainless sink) to install granite in our kitchen, he highly recommended it. He said buyers thought granite cost more like $10,000 so it would pay off. I want to elevate my house from something buyers like to something they have to have (wouldn't everyone???). So what do you all think? I'll post pictures, but it will only be one per post so bear with me!

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By the way, we've already removed the fake floral items and added some cuter stuff. Here's another picture.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:39PM
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Have you considered lowering the price or giving an allowance for kitchen items. Then buyers can pick their own granite.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:44PM
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Below is a picture of the breakfast nook that shows the floor better. I really don't want to go through the hassle of replacing the floor. I'm thinking about a lighter/cheap granite and saw one called giallo vitoria which may also be called santa cecilia light. This is a pretty good picture of it.

I was thinking about a plain white subway tile with a colored grout.

I have a nice-looking faucet I could use. I bought it clearance and was going to use it in my basement but changed my mind. I haven't gotten around to selling it on ebay yet. I may install it regardless of what else I do.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Realism, we already did lower the price by $5000, and our price is a little lower than a house that just went on the market down the street that is smaller/not as nice. Their kitchen is bigger, though. I had the same idea about an allowance but two different agents told us buyers don't want to have to do anything. I trust their knowledge of our market because they both have a lot of experience in our area.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:52PM
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Buyer's are frustrated aren't they? Being in the gardenweb bubble its hard to remember that the vast majority of people out there have no clue when it comes to kitchens. They just see granite and are happy.

I say you go out and choose the least expensive granite that looks halfway decent in your kitchen. Perhaps you can search your stone yards for a remnant which would be even cheaper.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I seriously question the realtor's advice in this case. It looks like a great open layout, and the countertop is nice. Sink is a bit of an issue IMO, but an easy change for a buyer.

I would not spend $3,000 to put in cheap granite as that might turn off more buyers than it would attract (people who would otherwise think switching out the countertop and putting in their own new granite and sink would be easy, would no longer think so).

I would do a $3K drop in price instead of sinking money into the house.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I don't know that granite is the answer. You can always try it and see, but it may be money wasted. That is a very nice kitchen and the counters and floor seem to match well with the appliances. All are indicative of price point and as you say these are the norm in your neighborhood, you should be able to leave them as is. With that being said, upgrading to granite may be a selling point if you were only competing with your neighborhood. What are the houses selling for in your neighborhood? Are you in the ballpark? How many houses in your neighborhood have sold (and what have they sold for compared to asking price) during the time your house was on the market?

Has the RE agent given or requested any feedback from any of the prospective buyers (especially the ones that have been multiple times)? It would be very interesting to hear why they went with a higher priced house vs. yours. Then you might have a better idea of what your next steps should be. You'd hate to spend $3K on granite, when the drawback was something totally different like the size of the bedrooms or the size of the yard, etc.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:00PM
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I would talk to more realtors. If I were buying your house, I would think granite would be a waste of money. The kitchen is cute and clean and perfectly move-in. It's fine. I'd rather live in it for as long as possible and then decide how to make it my dream kitchen, including ripping up those cabinets (but that might just be be - I like cabs that go up to the ceiling, and I wouldn't want to keep the arched doors). Maybe wait it out a bit? Or take it off for two months if you can and then put it back on? The housing market everywhere seems to be picking up a bit. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:01PM
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I agree w/ AboutToGetDusty, if I were buying the house I'd take out the cabinets and the granite would thus be a waste of money.

We bought our FL house last year w/ a newly redone kitchen (because we liked the rest of the house) and I wish they'd just left the kitchen alone. The layout is bad and the cabinets are not the quality I would have put in and now because it is "new" I feel bad tearing the whole thing out and am going to wait at least two or three years to do so. I'd much rather they'd given us a credit or just kept the price lower and not wasted the money to put in something "new" that isn't what I want.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:21PM
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put in granite counters. My shop has put in inexpensive granite for sellers many times. There has been several occasions where the couple came back to us for tops in their new home while commenting that the new counters really helped sell their old house.

Many realtors will tell you the kitchen sells the house. with an inexpensive granite I'd expect your kitchen to come in under $3000.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:24PM
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Realism, you are exactly right about the bubble! I didn't want to do anything to the kitchen because if I bought the house I'd want to make major changes. I don't like raised peninsulas and would eliminate that at the very least. But people in the real world just want granite and don't care what it is.

To try to answer your questions, mydreamhome, our price is right based on recent sales and what is currently on the market. Our listing expired so we talked to some of the best agents around to get more opinions. About 5 houses were for sale in the neighborhood when ours went on the market and all sold the same month ours did. Then we were the only one in our neighborhood until last month when a few more were listed. The highest priced one (asking $60,000 more than us but it is bigger and newer) went pending last week, but we don't know for how much.

We have seen all the feedback available from prospective buyers, and quite a few mentioned wanting granite. All the new construction around here now offers granite standard because the price has come down so much. Many of these homes are big and cheaply built. Ours is a higher quality home but is a little older (built in 2000).

The one couple that went for the higher priced house was only going to be in the area 5 years and thought the other would be easier to sell. I assume that being on the market 6 months hurt their opinion of how easy it would be to sell our house. Really, it sold right away the first time!

AboutToGetDusty, people in my area do not have dream kitchens. I've only known a couple people ever to rip out a kitchen and those have been original kitchens from the 1920's - 1960's. I am completely with you about the style of the kitchen, but the non-TKO world I live in doesn't think like we do!

BTW, this agent wasn't recommending granite at first, but when I told him how much it would cost he said he would definitely do it for that amount. He has shown our house to 4 prospective buyers (one of whom came within an inch of buying it) and a couple ended up going for new construction.

To put the cost into perspective, houses in our neighborhood sell for $275,000 to $350,000. Starter homes in our area are much older and smaller and range from $80,000 to $120,000.

This post was edited by mpagmom on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 0:10

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:27PM
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I think we all need to stop thinking like people who are kitchen obsessed. The average buyer of an average home doesn't possess 99% of the knowledge the readers here have. The average buyer sees granite and thinks "oooh expensive."

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:29PM
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I cross-posted with a couple of you!

Beagles, I'm with you 100%, but people around here don't tear out kitchens. Or even countertops apparently. I've never liked the kitchen much, but we bought the house for the yard and the neighborhood.

Oldryder (or anyone else), do you have any suggestions for the granite if I go ahead with it? The price group A granites I liked best were the one picture above (giallo vitoria), verde butterfly, and the ever-popular uba tuba. I thought the lighter one would be better with the white appliances (and nobody replaces appliances around here either!) and help with the smaller, window-less kitchen.

Well said, realism! It's hard to remember how normal people think, though.

This post was edited by mpagmom on Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 22:40

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:36PM
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True, if I bought your house, I probably would want an old kitchen and a lower price, so I can renovate it how I want it. However, it depends on who your buyers are. If they are slightly above lowest entry level, most people these days want granite and they want move-in ready. Sadly, they also want SS appliances, even if they are the cheapest possible. In fact, you can buy a package of 4 SS Frigidaire appliances (electric range, OTR microwave, DW, and fridge) for less than or about 2K.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:43PM
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Nosoccermom, I've been wondering about the appliances as well, but I don't see that happening. The dishwasher is a nice Bosch, the slide-in range is GE convection, and the french-door refrigerator isn't that old. And you're right, the agents we talked to said buyers wanted move-in ready in our price range.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:57PM
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I agree that your granite choice will enhance the cabinets and are better with the white appliances. The last house I sold was 7 years ago, and that is a long time, but I did just what you are planning on. I put on an inexpensive but nice granite. I left the bisque appliances.

I also agree that you totally have to think outside the Garden Web box on this. I am doing a flip right now and I really have to restrain myself. I saw the pictures of the comparables in the neighborhood and at least where I live, the ones that fetched the most per SF were sort of updated but not in Garden Web style. Any granite was good. If you really need stainless steal appliances, you can get used. BUT, you have a slide in range and that is more expensive to replace.

I know that feeling that people are going to want to change the kitchen and not like your cabinets etc, but that is probably totally false. Go to open houses, as many as you can. Look at the pictures on the MLS of the ones that sold and are for sale. Your realtor can e-mail you the links. I just did this and was surprised because I get stuck in my TKO world. The buyers do not know about the only true kitchen, walnut bookmatched cabinets, etc. Not everyone knows about full extension drawers! And none of them think granite is out of style and they should get marble!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:15PM
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Thanks, chinchette, for the vote of confidence on that granite. Does white subway tile with not-white grout sound good? This is not a granite I would choose for myself so I really need second opinions. I think I'm asking the wrong crowd because we are all brain-washed (in a good way).

I look at all the listings in my area, and the kitchens are nothing like what you see here. For comparison, this is the kitchen down the street (the competition I want to blow away). They only have 8-foot ceilings and I have 9-foot.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:24PM
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And here is the sale-pending house that was listed for a whopping $67,000 more than mine. The house is much bigger, 5 years newer, and has quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances. But by golly that looks like vinyl flooring!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:32PM
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I see that the laminate is rubbed on one end. What if you installed new laminate. There are beautiful selections. Get a new sink and faucet. But I see that your backsplash is holding the counters down. Either way you go, with a counter, will you have to redo the backslash too?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:35PM
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do you really think the kitchen is the weak spot that's preventing a sale? If so, then I'd do the following: leave the range/microwave side of kitchen alone.pull fridge out and carve back into your stud space to recess a few inches. At the same time remove the upper cabinet and order a deeper upper fridge cabinet and side panel for the right side. Look into a retrofit kit from frigo and get a new cover and panel for the dishwasher if possible. Probably leave the counter and get a stainless sink that could replace what you have[it's beige] in the existing opening. For me,if I were the picky or scrutinizing person they are describing it would be the white appliances and the handles that don't coincide/ then the beige sink. The fridge is probably not going to be replaced-but has the most obvious different handles,so by getting a panel on the dishwasher that will smooth over that side of the kitchen a bit and the stainless sink will work with the stainless handles of fridge. The most questionable thing is the protrusion of fridge and incorrect upper cab and lack of panel-can you handle tending to that as mentionned?In reality-a complete stainless appliance package is probably what would be better as you have creambacksplash,wood cabs and pewter counters-the white is ho hum in the space....but you're probably not feeling like replacing all appliances.I wonder if the fridge maker would have white handles to replace the silver tone?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:35PM
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Well they have the white appliances too. I like that their fridge is built in a bit more, but yours might look better on the MLS from a different angle. Your range is sexier than theirs.

I would not do subways because they won't jive with your cabinets and are an added expense. What is the back splash currently? Can't tell from the picture. You can leave what you have. Is it tile? Stone? I can't see what the bottom row is. The color would work with the granite, at least from the picture. Richer than white would be.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:41PM
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If you are going to make a change, I would probably vote for stainless steel appliances. I think they'd make a bigger impact in changing the look AND if someone wanted to redo the kitchen or update it themselves, they could keep the new appliances since that's not really so much a personal aesthetic choice.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:46PM
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enduring, I'm not sure I know what you mean about the laminate being rubbed on one end. As far as I know it is in good condition and it is nice as far as laminate goes. Could you be seeing light bouncing off it?

I know the sink is a definite loser, but I haven't looked to see if I can find one the same size and how much it would cost. I wouldn't think the sink would be a deal-breaker, though. The faucet can easily be replaced. One of the benefits of going granite is getting a new SS undermount sink. My $3000 estimate included the sink.

I am assuming the backsplash would have to be replaced if the countertop is. The current backsplash is a travertine-look ceramic or porcelain with a real stone mosaic between the the upper lighter tile and the lower darker tile. It relates pretty well to the floor but not much else.

I was thinking white subway would relate to the appliances and all the white trim in the house.

I was just looking online at a Samsung suite of appliances for about $2000. It is tempting! I agree the stickout fridge would be better from a different angle. These are rather horrible pictures from our old listing and the new ones will be professionally done. But again, I don't think anyone around here thinks twice about the refrigerator sticking out because all the kitchens are like that.

beagles, thanks for the vote for the stainless. I don't think my husband will go for it, but I could possibly try to sell these on craigslist and see what happens.

We have had potential buyers comment about wanting granite, but we've never heard anything about the appliances.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:01AM
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This is tough. A year or so ago, I was a buyer looking at a house in this price range, with houses about this age. I ended up buying one with un-updated everything in the kitchen because it was a better price. But I also ended up with a great living room/ entrance, a huge yard with expensive landscaping, etc. It's odd where people choose to spend their money.

So, what would I do? The upgrades of granite, new backsplash, stainless appliances, new sink and faucet could easily run you $8K, maybe more. Do a cost benefit analysis. Spending the money may make your house sell faster, but it probably won't get you much more money from move-in ready, reasonably well off first time buyers. Also, I am one of those crazy people who believes price is everything in the market. If you don't have the house priced right, you get the wrong kind of traffic, house doesn't sell, etc. Set the price where you can sell it at and be done with it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:38AM
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herbflavor, I missed your post before. You got me thinking about the mismatched appliance pulls (which never bothered me) and I was looking on bestbuy.com at the appliances in their Samsung kitchen for about $2100. And look at the only choice for refrigerator and dishwasher in this particular deal. (The refrigerator is white, even though it doesn't look it)

At least they both have blue LED displays!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:39AM
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My hunch is that's a newer handle design for the fridge.... the dishwasher doesn't sell much so they are putting it in the deal...[I don't know anyone who gets a samsung dishwasher].Samsung has other models-that's just what one vendor is showing at one point in time.Shop around some more-scratch n dent/craigs list. I've seen people selling matched stainless appliances on craig's list.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:50AM
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Thanks for the input, Julie.

The house is priced right according to every agent we've talked to. There are lots of comparable sales in the neighborhood and some higher. It sold the first day on the market for 98% of our asking price (and that's when the price was $5000 higher. By the time the deal fell through the prime selling time was long gone (this is a family neighborhood and local families all move in the summer), and now it's been on the market for a while. Like I said above, I think the length of time on market is now a big negative and we need to counteract it with a big positive. I'm done being the second-place house and want to propel it to the first-place house. I'm not planning to spend $8000. New granite, sink, faucet (already own it), and DIY backsplash will run less than $3500. I feel like the perceived value will be higher than the cost and it will appease the gotta-have-granite crowd. Maybe I'm off-base and I will talk more to local agents about this.

Assuming the white appliances stay and the laminate countertop goes, does anyone have an opinion on granite and backsplash choice?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:59AM
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herbflavor, we always seem to cross-post! I would never replace a Bosch DW with a Samsung DW - I just thought it was funny that those were in the deal together. I've been keeping an eye on Craigslist locally and haven't seen anything tempting.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:05AM
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Thanks for posting this. We are in a similar position. We will be putting our home on the market soon, and have budgeted $10K to update our kitchen. We do not plan on recouping our investment only hoping that it will help our home sell quickly. The homes in our area tend to stay on the market for a long time, mostly due to the school district. I need something that will really stand out in our price range.

We have already bought stainless steel appliances for around $2000. We got a good deal during black Friday, so they are pretty nice for that price. We priced granite this weekend. I really wanted a look similar to what I like on gardenweb and Pinterest, which is dark counters on the perimeter and a marble like granite on the center island. We were able to find granite that can give us that look for around $38 a square foot-under $2000 for our kitchen. That includes the stone, fabrication, and installation. The island stone was a remnant so that helped with the price.

I personally don't like your stone choice. It looks too busy to me. However, it is more similar to what I see in homes for sale in our area (central VA), than what we have chosen, so maybe I am the one making the mistake. I am one of those obsessed with the beautiful kitchens I see on gardenweb. (If you think I am making a mistake please let me know. Our stones have not yet been purchased, only on hold.)

Anyway, I agree sinking a few thousand dollars into a kitchen to update it and help it stand out will help sell a home in a slow market. Most people would want far more than that if you give a kitchen allowance. I'm not a real estate expert, but if you read the selling/buying boards it seems that most people do not want to renovate when buying a new home.

A couple of other thoughts, the suggestion to get more Realtor's opinions, can you do that if you are already working with a Realtor? Also, I think that the huge white fridge is a big eye sore. If you compare your pictures with the last one you posted, you will see that the later has a much softer less jarring look. Maybe it's just the angle of your photo, but the fridge dosen't feel right in that space to me.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:13AM
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Homeblessings, I appreciate another viewpoint! I hope I get more feedback on the granite because it is not what I would choose for myself. It just seemed like the best choice from the lowest-priced granites. Your plans sound nice and I've always liked the dark perimeter with the marble-like island. I almost did that in my new house, but I went all-dark. Good luck with your upcoming home sale!

My listing just expired so I am finally free to talk to other agents. I wish we'd signed for a much shorter period. Our former agent was great when we worked with her years ago, but times have changed and she hasn't so much. She also doesn't know our area as well. We were so busy when we listed the house we didn't give the choice of agent enough thought.

We are leaving the house off the market for 30 days while we choose a new agent and make any improvements. It will reset our days on market to 0, but there are lots of ways to see the listing history if you try. We are hoping someone will fall in love with the house before they dig too much.

I'll take a critical look at the fridge in real life and if it's OK, I'll make sure the new photos aren't from that angle! I may even be able to scootch it back a few inches.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:40AM
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Can you sell or keep the current appliances for your next home? It's crazy, but a white Bosch will appeal to fewer people than a SS Frigidaire unless you're in a price category where people actually know about brands.
If you can advertise your home as "SS appliances and granite counters" people will be happy and think that's a great house.
Also, get nice annual flowers and stage the place. It's ridiculous, but the majority of buyers will go for the quick fixes they see on HGTV.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:54AM
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If you should go for a SS fridge, pull out the upper cabinet and add a side panel to build in the fridge.

What's the sink like? If you have a Costco close by, they have a Grohe faucet for 200.00 on sale right now (with a 50.00 coupon).

What's the other floors like in your house? Tiles or hardwood would be better than vinyl, but replacing floor is a PIA.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:18AM
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I think it looks ok other than the sink. But if granite keeps coming up, then I'd really consider that. Maybe get some LED pucks to put under the upper cabinets. My Dad did that and wired them together on a dimmer and it was really nice, but shouldn't be too expensive. Might be enough to look special compared to other kitchens.

You might also ask when many people start looking when they plan to move over the summer school break. If its not until may or June, I'd wait and be a new listing then. If its around now, then I'd do it as soon as your window resets.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:29AM
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I do think having a "move-in" ready house is a plus for buyers. A lot of people don't want to bother renovating as soon as they move in, or they don't have the skills to do it. The last time we sold a house, we spent a little money and time making our house look good. It sold to the first people who looked at it. It was listed for a bit more than similar ones in the neighborhood. We had a real estate agent from one of the other homes for sale come by and ask to see ours even though it was already sold. She said that she understood why ours sold and her listing didn't. Hers needed more work.

Because the kitchen doesn't have any windows, I would go with the lighter granite rather than the verde butterfly or the uba tuba. As someone else suggested, undercabinet lighting would help brighten it up a bit. For the backsplash, I would not go with white, but maybe a beige tile. Once you pick the granite, find something neutral that will go with it. I know, boring, but you're trying to appeal to the widest audience.

You have probably done this already, but make sure the rest of your house looks nice and in good repair. Take a bunch of pictures and see if you notice anything that needs to be changed to make it look better. Ask a friend to check out the pictures also. Clean out the closets and put any extra stuff you don't need in storage. The idea of taking it off the market for a while so the clock can reset is a smart move.

Wishing you success on selling your house.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:29AM
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Mpagmom: I sold my parent's small home a year ago and the buyer's today are a new breed. Everyone wants move in ready and cannot tolerate the simpliest DIY (painting).Since you are shopping for agents,make them help you! Many sellers don't want to hear the truth-but lighting,countertops,etc can make the difference. I,too,sold an empty house and I think that can be a deterrent too.Buyers cannot see/imagine where the sofa should be placed. Good luck and this is a STRESSFUL time.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 6:54AM
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I can't see the granite you posted for some reason, but if it's the Santa Cecilia light my friend has, it would probably go with your existing backsplash. Perhaps the BS can be left as is if the fabricator/installer is good...

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:10AM
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Having recently sold our home, I can sympathize with you and am so sorry about your deal falling through. And who knows what buyers want -- one in our development bought the same model, without hardwood and upgrades, at a higher price, without even bothering to LOOK at ours!! Lots of good advice above. I think your granite choice and BS choice would be good. My DD sold her house fairly quickly, with "granite", but she was fortunate and only had to put a remnant piece on he island. However, I would replace the appliances for stainless before I did granite. Watch HGTV, and all of the airhead buyers walk in and say they want "stainless" and will nix an otherwise nice house because of it! If you can buy the suite of appliances for $2000, I'll bet you could sell yours on CL or otherwise and your net cost wouldn't be so bad. "All New Stainless Appliances" would be a good draw, and the buyers would be happy knowing that the appliances aren't going to break and are covered by warranty, sparkling clean, etc.!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:26AM
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Your laminate does look damaged in the photo. Make sure the listing photos look great.

Stage your house with furniture. Rent furniture if needed. Bedrooms always look smaller empty.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:28AM
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Thanks for all the great ideas! Please keep them coming.

We have halogen under-cabinet lighting already. With lights on the kitchen is well-lit. I replaced all the recessed bulbs with new, brighter halogen bulbs just before it went on the market.

All the agents we've talked to hire a professional to take the photos so I don't expect any damaged-looking countertops next time!

The house is in move-in condition, but not if someone specifically wants granite. Before it went on the market we had a handyman friend spend about a week touching up paint and making sure everything is in good repair. The downstairs now has enough furniture for staging and the upstairs is fairly empty. Most of the bedrooms are very large, though, so I don't feel like they look small.

I will certainly call my favorite agents and ask about stainless appliances since everyone is voting for them. I'm not really a fan of stainless with the color of the cabinets, though.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:33AM
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I agree with the others. I like your countertop and I think stainless appliances and a stainless sink with a great faucet and brushed silver cabinet knobs would make your kitchen look more modern. Your current appliances look like they're in great shape so you could sell them on Craigslist to help with the cost. Home Depot has a contractor pack of brushed silver knobs and they are inexpensive.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:41AM
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We listed our last house in the Fall of 2011. Worst time of the year because everyone was dumping their houses, killing the comps, entering into the holiday season. We had 77 showings in 90 days. Had to pull it from showings during Christmas week because my kids were going to kill us. The people never stopped coming! They obviously didn't get the memo that it was supposed to slow down between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Here's what we heard (well, what I haven't blocked from my memory) when we were selling the last home to give you some thoughts....and remember my kitchen was just reno'd, and the bathrooms were all updated (not gutted).

"house is beautiful, but ________"

2300 sq foot home--it was too small (no study)

new construction about 2 miles away, builder giving away tons of free upgrades--couldn't compete

these appliances are too nice, what if they break?

wish the cabinets went to the ceiling

too rural & isolated
too commercial (yes, totally contradictory--that made us baffled as we were on 1+acre lots with a 55 acre farm behind us)

it only has a 2 car garage (maybe they were hoping the mls listing was wrong?)

My point is people will come up with any reason not to buy. There is an a$$ for every seat. Someone will come along. We finally sold to a young guy and his girlfriend who absolutely loved it.

As far as the granite goes, I would certainly poll other realtors and get their feedback, w/o giving them any ideas on what you think you should do. If they all say granite, then just do it. Buy the least expensive that you can get that works (like pictured). Keep your tile--it can be done. Go ahead and replace the sink & faucet. Boom, instant updated kitchen.

Yes, this is not what GWers would want. But as mentioned above, people don't even know that there are different prices for granite. I know the house hunting shows are all scripted, but it never amazes me that a buyer will walk in to a kitchen and first thing they say is something like "now this is what I'm talking about...granite". I don't think non GWers know that there are more than one type of granite! Ok, the stone people know, but really not many others. I remember our agent/neighbor telling us that only one other house had granite in our neighborhood.

If that is what would elevate your home to another level, I'd do it.

Non GW-TKOers are putting granite into existing kitchens w/o doing anything else and calling it updated. I know--I see it a lot. Horrifies me, but that is me. They all love it.

The price drop thing doesn't really work, unless it is a significant price drop. Whenever I see a list price, I automatically think I'll be getting it for less anyway. Lowering by a couple of thousand doesn't make enough of an impact. It needs to drop your house into another from $ to $ category for when searches are being conducted. If it is priced appropriately, (or even a bit low) you can find yourself in a bidding war. Don't let anyone tell you they aren't happening--they are. We ended up selling ours for $5k over the current asking price (turned down $10k over because the $5k offer was stronger).

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:34AM
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That's great that you are in a position to interview Realtors again. Here is what I would do.
I would wait to do anything to your kitchen until you talk to several Realtors first. I would then have
each Realtor walk through your house without voicing your plans to update the kitchen.
After the walk through I would ask the following questions. (found these on the buying/selling board)

What are the 5 strongest selling points for our house? 5 weakest points?

Do you feel there is something we can do to make the house more desirable to sell?

What sold the last three properties you listed?

At this point if kitchen upgrades are not brought up, I would then discuss with the Realitors some of
your ideas to upgrade the kitchen and see what their responses are.

If they feel it would be worth the $ and help sell the home quickly in your housing market, you
could then get their opinion on your granite and backsplash choices.

I know I told you that I wasn't a fan of your choice because it looks too busy to me. I googled
"giallo vitoria" and found stones that looked much lighter and less busy than the example
you showed. In general I like the farmhouse/industrial look the best for kitchens, so I'm not much of
a granite person anyway. I prefer soapstone, concrete, butcher block, concrete, even your counters
as they are now to a busy granite, so my opinion probably isn't mainstream.

I am planning on putting in granite to sell like I said earlier. I read a poll recently that said 70% of
buyers are looking for granite countertops, and 30% will only purchase a home that has granite countertops. (Does anyone know how to find this poll? I thought it was done by the National Realitor's Association. I'm not sure if I read it online or in a magazine) If this survey is correct, then that is
a huge # of buyers that you would be excluding by not having granite.

Another thing I read that was posted by one realitor on the buying/selling board was that many of her
clients don't care about color or quality of granite, they just want granite.

Here's a link to a helpful article summing up the findings of National Kitchen and Bath Assoc
2012 trend report:

I'm sorry that you have been on such a roller coaster with selling your home. Hopefully when you
list it again it will be a better experience. Please keep us updated on what you decide to do and how
it goes.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:02AM
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Georgiemd, I'm going to ask all the agents about stainless appliances and/or granite vs nothing. I'll think about the knobs, too, but the knobs on there are nice Restoration Hardware that match the lighting throughout.

Thanks, Bee, for the input. I remember reading about your selling saga at the time. So glad it worked out well for you. I agree with you about fall and winter being hard to sell. It seems that everyone is just looking for a bargain. Your comments about granite are very helpful, too. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try to keep the backsplash. We would be removing the old counter so that increases our chances.

homeblessings, thanks for that specific info. We interviewed agents last week, and granite only came up with the last one. We were asking more about staging, etc and not really talking about upgrades. I am now in the process of following up with more questions, so this will help. The granite market around here has shifted even since last summer. Now that ALL the new construction offers it standard, it's hard to compete without it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:25AM
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I just posted on the sell/buy boards about this topic and referenced this discussion. Here's the link:
Hope you can get some more helpful comments there.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:37AM
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Hi, like everyone has already mentioned buyers want stainless steel appliances And granite. It’s crazy! I tried to read all the posts so I don’t know if this has been mentioned (can’t believe I’m saying this) but how about painting the cabinets white, put in a new stainless sink and paint the kitchen walls a trendy beige/grey and maybe get a trendy Ikea looking dining light. To me the goal would be to give the kitchen some sort of trend look, plus the white appliances would then just blend and the dark countertop would also look trendy and cool. If you Google white kitchens with white appliances you will get lots of nice inspiration.
White kitchens do take good pictures which will be good for your new ad. Plus, maybe you could get away with listing it at its original price.

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 10:58

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:41AM
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I'm no designer so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt, but the first thing that stuck out to me when I looked at the photos of your kitchen were the counters. Not because they aren't granite, but to my eye, the color does go well with the cabinets and the backsplash. I could be wrong, but the color appears on my screen to be a charcoal gray (a cool color) while the tile is more of a warm color which goes well with your cabinets. If it were me, I would want to change the counter right away. I don't think it necessarily needs to be granite, but something that fits with the color scheme of your kitchen. Again, this is just my personal opinion, and one being drawn from photos rather than IRL, so maybe the colors coordinate better when seen in person. I'd also change the color of the sink.

Otherwise, I think your kitchen looks nice especially in the market that you describe for your area.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Lots of good ideas here. I do like your granite choice should you decide to replace the countertops. Your current countertops look fine to me though. I do agree that a stainless or black sink would look better.

Choose an agent who has success in your neighborhood. Then he/she will be knowlegeable about the area, school system and type of buyers your house is looking to attract.

And lastly, curb appeal. I am astonished as some listed houses I see that have lousy lawns, no mulch, sparse shrubbery and peeling painted front doors and trim. If your house looks cared for on the outside, it will seem like you cared for the inside, too. (I'm not saying that your house falls under this category but that many do). I just looked at a Craigslist item at a listed house that was a disaster on the outside. It made a big negative impression on me.

I think a spring listing will make a difference in traffic and interest in your house. Hopefully that will be enough to sell it quickly.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:50AM
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I thought I would jump in because we are currently selling our second home. Our first home was a small starter home in an urban area, and our current home is on ten acres in a rural area. Surprisingly come out to look but do not want acreage. We're completely surrounded by large farms (only crops-no animals). Weird.

It is sad your realtor didn't really seem like they were helping. Hopefully your next one will. Ours goes to lots of classes, workshops, and is pretty tech savvy. She knows she needs to reach the most people she can, and she asks for help from the other realtors in her group and networks outside of her office to find fresh ideas for listing.

I do agree with many of the others about GW maybe hindering your perspective. You are most likely selling to the HGTV people (people like my mom and sisters). They just want new and shiny and have no idea about different price points or quality. I start talking to them about different cabinet manufactures or the benefits of various coutnertops, and their eyes glaze over.

I'm with Bee. Poll the agents, and put in granite if that is what they say. I would try to choose something less busy though than the one you have posted above but keep with the neutral tones in it. I would also put in a new shiny sink and faucet and call the kitchen updated. I would even lead with the 'updated kitchen' in the new listing.

Your community sounds like many of the ones that are in our metro area.

You said you had cuter things on the countertop. When I go to my mom's house and watch HGTV with her do you know what I always seem to see on the counter at the end of the show? An orchid. I know it's weird, but I think orchids have been trending for a while. People can be so weird, and you have no idea what someone will like.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:50PM
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What you want to achieve is that your want your house to be the 'best house' in your price point for an 'average buyer'. I would say that you are there since you had an offer on the first day it was on the market. I would say that the product and the price is NOT your problem.

Real estate is extremely local. What works in one location will not work in another. For example, at a certain price point or location, this kitchen will not do and it will be a tear out kitchen, no questions asked. In another location and price point, this is a dream kitchen. We have no way of knowing where your house/kitchen falls into.

It sounds like the house almost sold but some bad luck happened; ie sellers' job loss. This is unfortunate, but this creates a 'stale' product. We pulled out of an investment house that we put earnest money, because we found some HUGE defects and we decided to not take on the risk of those defects. That particular house did not sell during the selling season and went back on the market this spring. When a house does not sell, it creates a product that is questionable because the listing shows that it had a pending offer that did not complete. Most small problems uncovered during an inspection get worked out between the buyers and sellers. The buyer has no idea if the house did not close because of a big defect (ie my situation) or a lack of financing (your situation). The only thing the buyers see is that the deal did not close.

I have seen this again and again as I have followed our local market the past few years. Incomplete sales seem to linger. The prior offer is a public information in my area. If you have a slow market, then most buyers will go after the fresh listing first.(DOM: days on the market in the real estate lingo) This is indeed a harsh reality to swallow, but this is the market psychology.

I would have your real estate agent aggressively let the buyers know that the house had an offer the first day it was on the market but the buyer could not close due to job loss. This creates a halo of a very 'desirable' product..... We have had many real estate agents let us know this when we looked at the listings.

Ask your agent if the prior listing and the prior "pending offer" can be deleted from the listing information which is public. I am not sure if this is possible.
I would also go do lots of research on my own. I would go look at every listing in my "large area" and how the other houses compare in my price point. I would have the real estate agent pull the "sold/comps" for the past year and review them and come up with your own analysis regarding the price and features. They should be able to pull the old pictures. (some pictures do expire.) My agent is able to send me e-mail links to the sold listings where the pictures are still able to be viewed. This is why you have hired your agent and will pay the commission. Have him/her work for you.

You have to do your own marketing by creating the best product for the market segment that you are targeting. You cannot do the marketing unless you have data. It is time for you to get your own data. Don't take the real estate agent's word at face value. This is your house. You will have to do some leg work.

I wish you the best in your house sale. I am sorry that you could not close the sale last year.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:19PM
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homeblessings, thanks for posting it on the other forum. I never seem to stray from this one. Sounds like a lot of granite/SS yes votes so far.

fourkids4us, you are probably right about the current counter color being all wrong. I'm seeing that I should have stated at the beginning: "WARNING: this post contains disturbing images of a poorly decorated kitchen!"

jterrilynn, that is the kitchen I would want to buy, but we aren't painting. It would look nicer though! And our area is definitely not trendy. Oh my, if you saw the kitchens in the highest-priced houses.

corgimum, thanks for the great hints. Fortunately we have one of the nicest looking houses around and the landscaping is great. Last summer's drought was rough on the lawn, but all the houses looked that way.
iowacommute, I think the granite picture I posted looks busier than it is because of the scale. I'll post another below with 3 samples that are light and price group A. I thought the one on the left was best because of the warmer tones. I will have to get me an orchid! I don't watch TV so I had no idea

Everyone, a new sink and faucet are almost definite. Really, I appreciate all this input!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:07PM
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I just had a long talk with my favorite realtor, and I think I have good direction.

He said if I do one thing, it should be the granite. People walk in and are very impressed with granite and he thought we would get our money back. He thought if we went one grade up from the cheapest and got one with a bit more movement that would be better. A new undermount sink and faucet would go along with that. The floor would be a second priority, and I'm getting an estimate on that tonight so we won't make any decisions until that. He had a suggestion for keeping the backsplash. If I carefully remove the bottom row I can cut them down a bit if the granite is a little thicker than the laminate. He said buyers around here are only concerned that appliances match. Stainless is not a must-have at all, and he put that as the lowest priority. I live in the suburban midwest, and you'll just have to accept that it's a different world here! This will be sold to someone with lots of kids, so stainless isn't necessarily a plus because of the fingerprints.

I'll still talk to my second-favorite realtor and see what she says. She has a lot of experience flipping houses.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:59PM
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I actually like charcoal gray with warm cabs. I think it tempers all the gold/red. It seems crazy how shortsighted people can be, where they're turned off an otherwise great house buy in a nice neighborhood because the counters aren't granite. But, if it's what people crave and expect, I guess you gotta give it to them. Good luck selling your place.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Hi kaismom, I don't know how I missed your post before. Thanks for all the helpful advice. Anyone can see that our house was pending for a while and my former agent said she explained the situation in the realtor notes. I don't think there is a way to make it go away. The agents we are interviewing are aware of the issue and will handle it the best way they can.

I have been staring at every for sale, pending, and recently sold house around. The pictures are easy to find on the internet using zillow. I compare the size, age, pictures, etc. Houses that are even 5 years old in our price range do not have granite, but they almost always have bigger kitchens. We are trying to offset the kitchen size with a bit of a wow factor. Most have wood or tile floors, so that will be a serious consideration for us.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Hi mpag, oh I didn’t realize you live in the Midwest so nix-a on the white cabinet idea. I wish you all the best on your sale, its crazy what one has to go through these days. My house is up for sale as well but I’m in Florida where it’s even tougher right now. Although I have had very good feed back on my home most people want over a 3,000 living sf $625,000 to 675,000 newly remodeled fenced and gated home on over an acre for under $500,000. So, good feed back but people want bigger (I’m 2600 lv sf and 4,000 total). A few people thought my 16x101/2 ft bath way too small. These things are out of my control though.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:50PM
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I know you went to your favorite realtor, but is he the best? Where I live, real estate companies are always advertising the awards that the agents get for the highest sales.
I would try to locate the best of the best. When we sold our house in the city our agent guaranteed she would sell our house with in a certain amount of time. She showed us her track record. The economy was not good at the time but our house did sell quickly.
Not sure if this would work, but it is what a neighbor of mine did. She added a personal page to the specs with how many houses has young children on our block, that we had yearly block parties, less than a mile to the beach. In other words, there was really nothing that stood out about her house, so she was selling the neighborhood. (And interestingly enough, the reason why she bought the house was that when she was looking, our yealy block party was going on.)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 4:20PM
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mpagmom-the verdict is still out as we haven't put our home up on the market yet but we did just what you are talking about doing to try to separate our home from others in the area. We also live in the midwest. We knew going in we wouldn't get our money back out of it but our kitchen was horribly outdated. We couldn't afford to overhaul it in terms of layout, etc. so we replaced flooring, countertops, blinds, pulls and will update the appliances right before we list to stainless. Right now we are mix-matched.

In our area buyers definitely are more the oh granite and ss than oh -that granite. We bought the best to go with our shriek, honey oak cabinets (ubatuba) and I think it really helped. We had white multi-fleck (blue and mauve, ick) laminate that didn't really do much for the honey tone.

The RE agent we spoke with said that newer used homes (ours is 14 years old) that are recently updated are moving fastest. People want everything reasonably (what does that mean I wonder) updated and 'move in ready'. Go figure - who knows. I hope it pays off in a faster sale... :/

Good luck! I'll be crossing fingers for you!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:11PM
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Of those three samples the one of the left looks like it works the best overall to tie in all the colors. I think a low movement stone is better overall for neutrality. It could otherwise turn some buyers off and may not necessarily be what the average person thinks of as granite.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Of those three samples the one of the left looks like it works the best overall to tie in all the colors. I think a low movement stone is better overall for neutrality. It could otherwise turn some buyers off and may not necessarily be what the average person thinks of as granite.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:31PM
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You noticed that the house that sold for 67K more does have SS appliances? Again, people think SS is expensive. If you replace the appliances, I then would go with darker and not-too-much-movement granite (like Uba Tuba). I think it just looks more expensive.
Have you looked what the new-built houses in your area have in their kitchens?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:36PM
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Good luck with your house, jterrilynn!

Ellendi, thanks for the tips. We haven't signed with any realtor yet, but this one is my favorite because he notices everything, has years of experience, and is just SO honest. All the agents I talked to are top sellers in the area and in their agencies. My top two both live close by and know the area quite well.

Autumn.4, I wish you luck as well. I think uba tuba looks great with oak and it would look good with my cabinets, too. I'm trying to lighten the kitchen because it has no windows, but I'm open to something dark like that.

Lyfia, thanks for the vote on the samples. I'm going to look again at granite tomorrow and maybe get more samples.

Nosoccermom, new-built houses all have granite and SS appliances. I'd say anything built in the last 5 years has SS appliances.

I was at the house this evening looking at the appliances. The refrigerator has dings and the range has issues. I'm going to try to get an idea of what I could get for them on craigslist and what I would have to pay to replace them. The range looks OK in pictures, but up-close it is a bit of a mess. My husband is against any new appliances at this point, and I can see why.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:35PM
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We bought stainless steel appliances on craigslist (for two houses), but the stove we bought new. You can clean (and I did) a fridge and dishwasher and MW up like new, but not a stove so much. Also, the buyer may feel like they're in a new kitchen if the appliances look almost new. I'm not sure about changing the backsplash. I think yours would look great with the granite you showed, and it's a mess changing out a backsplash.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:14PM
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I'm not trying to sell, but I am re-doing counters in my current kitchen. And, is is turning out to be a very expensive and involved and time-consuming nightmare. I had just thought let's take out the current counters and put in new soapstone ones. We then heard the "just simply take the lower row of backsplash tile out" because you will need to do this to accomodate the different planes of the surfaces. This is MUCH easier said than done. I wanted to retain my backsplash, but it is now going because of the difficulty involved in trying to keep it. And, when you start to try to take out the tile, the wallboard is ruined. So, you need to put in new wallboard.

I like white appliances and have them (including the same LG fridge you have--now that is a worthless piece of junk in our opinion), and I also like cast iron drop-in sinks. But, in your kitchen's case, the one thing I think I would do is to put in a stainless sink with one of those fancy pull out faucets because it seems to say "current" to so many people. Then, I would get daring and paint the kitchen an interesting, somewhat contrasting color. Your current color says blah to me and says I am this color because I am trying to appear most innocuous and generic to appeal to the most buyers. Color works wonders as far as making something look updated.

We currently have tiled counters rather than the laminate you have, so that may be part of the re-installation problem. But, knowing what I know now, I'd get the actual installer out to the house to ask how difficult installing new counters actually is. You do not want any bad suprises like we got.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:09AM
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I agree with Bee, put in the granite, new sink, and faucet. People do want move in ready. If you can do SS appliances, great, but like your RE said, that does not seem to be dealbreaker.

We live in a non-TKO neighborhood, so I would say these updates you planned are very reasonable and would appeal to buyers who do not plan on a tearout.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:33AM
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and not only do people thing ss appliances are "expensive", they think they are "professional" and suddenly you have a "gourmet kitchen", "a cook's dream", etc...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Yup - put in SS appliances and a prefab granite. These things do sell houses!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:28PM
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I got my SS appliances for less than 2K by getting deals. A used KA fridge on CL, a dishwasher that is not so great but SS and new for $200 at Sears cause they were getting rid of it, and a new KA range (convection) from same Sears. Floor model that was being discontinued. With hood will come in under 2K. All the finishes work together fine.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Thanks, everyone for the additional input and suggestions!

Needinfo1, I appreciate the warning about replacing the counter being harder than you might think. I replaced a counter and backsplash once before and the backsplash definitely had to be replaced because there was a 4" laminate backsplash under the tile. I also love your assessment of the LG refrigerator. I had to replace some broken parts to the crisper drawers early on and then it tried to burn my house down when the lightbulb stopped turning off. Fortunately I smelled the burning plastic smell. LG sent me new crisper drawer parts for not too much money and I fixed it myself, and they fixed the lightbulb problem for free. I think that was just after someone was trying to file a class action suit against them. It's been fine since then.

Bee, I want that "cook's dream!"

I decided to definitely replace the range. The display is a little wonky, and sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can't. Not a great feature! Also, the glass surface is showing its age and has permanent stains. To top it off, I figured it would cost $500 extra in granite and a cutout charge to have a slide in. So it is out of there.

I agree that the current paint color is boring, but the kitchen is open to a couple other rooms and it would be a lot of painting. The dining room and living room are sage green, so I'm not all boring!

I did some shopping, and here's where I am. If I choose any price A granite, I can get it for $2500 installed (there's no tax) including the sink cutout. Giallo Vitoria and Uba Tuba are the two best with my cabinet color. The others are too yellow or two pink. It will be interesting to see what real slabs of giallo vitoria look like because the googled images vary widely.

I'm figuring on $250-$300 for a stainless steel sink. If I go as high as $370 I can get a WOW sink like this Ticor:

I already own this faucet, which is a little odd, but I hope it will work. I got it for something like $78 clearance and was going to use it in my basement. I changed my mind on the basement faucet and was going to sell this on ebay, but it's still sitting under my bed. Will it work? I like that it's not so tall so it won't go so far above the raised peninsula - at least that's what I'm telling myself!

I met with a friend last night who is a teacher who flips houses on the side. He said he could tile the floor next week over his spring break for $1400 plus the cost of tile and grout. I expected it to cost more because the tile goes into the eat-in area, a hall, and a powder room. My leading contender for tile is the Home Depot special at $.77 a square foot, so I'm figuring a total cost of about $1800.

I was pricing SS appliances at bestbuy and sears and saw Sears had a nice sale ending yesterday. I went ahead and bought a Kenmore side-by-side refrigerator with ice/water dispenser, range, OTR microwave, and dishwasher for a total of $2100 including tax and delivery. I thought that was a good deal, and I also know I can cancel it if I change my mind. Any opinions on a side-by-side (I prefer french door) or Kenmore's perceived quality? They always put Kenmore in Home Makeover: Extreme Edition houses, so I thought that should appease that crowd. And the stainless steel color and handles all match! I'm hoping I can sell the existing appliances on craigslist to recoup a chunk of this, and it was already going to cost me to get a new range. I've been looking for a while on Craigslist for replacements, but there are not many appliances locally. I hope that's a good sign that they sell quickly. I just remember I have a Sears Outlet nearby, so I'll check that too.

I am skeptical about keeping the backsplash. I think the new counter will be a little shorter than the old, but I'll worry about that later (like next week). Also, if I go with Giallo Vitoria, it might be busy on top of busy and the undertones won't be the same. We'll see.

I am going over to make a diagram of the cabinets in a little while, and I will try to get some pictures with the samples I have.

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:56PM
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I was looking through MLS listings in our area this past weekend to see what people have changed in their houses (the newer part of our neighborhood is 20 years old and the older part is 40 years old). What struck me is that frequently the bathrooms haven't been updated at all (sometimes granite vanities), and in the kitchens all that has been done is granite counters, new sink, and new hardware. Sometimes stainless appliances, but frequently white or black. Houses in our neighborhood seldom stay on the market for more than 90 days (price range is high 300's to low $500's). I know the Denver market hasn't been hit as hard as many parts of the country, but I've been pleasantly surprised at the prices people are getting for these homes.

We're not planning on selling, but I'm trying to get an idea for what I need to do to update our home, but my kitchen will be done for me and my needs. I agree that the first 2 things people seem to look for in kitchens are granite and stainless appliances. If only one of these options is possible, I'd ask the realtors which is more important to the majority of the buyers in your market (I'd guess it would be granite). Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 1:46PM
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Thanks again for starting this discussion and for all of the comments from everyone. They have been quite valuable to me. You have inspired me to post my own kitchen picture soon.

I love the expensive sink, but I don't think you need to spend the extra $. I never heard of a sink selling a kitchen. I was thinking of putting in the $99 18 gauge sink at overstock. It has good reviews there.

I don't like the facet. I think it will appeal to only a certain type of buyer. I think for an updated look most will want a pull down facet with a higher neck for filling pots easier. I'm thinking a chef's facet might give the impression that this kitchen is a "chef's dream kitchen". This is the one I like for a decent price:

Your choices from sears should be fine. It sounds like most buyers are not looking at the brands, only the overall look and feel of the kitchen.

I have a lot of thinks in my sentences, cause I'm not an expert. I'm just trying to figure it all out like you. It is very different to update a kitchen to sell, as opposed to updating it for yourself. I bet your friend who flips houses can give you some good advice on all the little details.

Let us know what you decide, and please post pictures of your updates with before and after.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 2:04PM
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I hope you don't take this the wrong way -- but we who hang out on this board tend to be really good at finding really awesome stuff to put in our kitchens, and we enjoy doing it... sometimes I think some of us even look for an excuse to do it when it makes zero financial sense. Your kitchen is beautiful right now. This thread has documented a perfect case of project creep -- a seller (you) checks in questioning what to do, and next thing we know, you've green lighted new granite, a new range, and a new tile floor in multiple areas. None of it is necessary. None of it. And it's a waste of your money. You want proof? Your house sold the first day on the market. Then was 2nd place three times. And this is with a relatively brief time on the market. If you subtract out the time spent tied up with the first buyer, then it's hardly been on the market at all -- much less for the average time it takes to make a sale right now, I almost guarantee it. Save your talents (and your money) for improving your next/new home's kitchen for YOUR OWN enjoyment. Multiple buyers have already told you your kitchen rocks AS IS, so it DOES. Believe it. To start this project would maybe lessen your anxiety for the moment by giving you something to distract yourself while you wait for your buyer, but it will not help it sell any more than what you have will. Really, what you have there is already a beautiful kitchen (I never say that unless I mean it, I would skip giving a comment rather than lie about it). I think your laminate looks like soap stone, goes beautifully with your hardware, and the kitchen as is would undoubtedly please 99% of the home buyers out there (the other 1% hang out on here). Reread kaismom's very wise post, and wait. It will sell.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 2:16PM
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mpagmom-we went directly through a granite fabricator and they 'threw in the sink' with the granite. It's not a ticor or TKO brand but it is overall a nice sink, quiet, deep. You might want to check to see if any area fabricators are doing that also - save you a few hundred at least. Since we were just doing a facelift we decided to cut out the middle man and go straight to the fabricator.

Our ubatuba installed was just about that - $2500 including the sink cut out and the sink. I am not sure how many linear feet now - maybe 65? Small kitchen. I hope this all works out for you and is as painless as possible. At least you have your gorgeous new kitchen to look at. :)

We also had the same issue as needinfo1 regarding counter not going all the way to the wall. We were going to update the bath back splash and ended up needing a counter once we removed it (and half the wall came with it). We had the same thing in the kitchen but we were planning on doing the counter and back splash so not as bit of a deal. Doing a 'simple' new back splash is a can of worms for sure.

Updating a spec house (which is our current home) is actually quite the adventure, you either have to lol at the workmanship (or lack thereof) or else you'll just cry at all the $ sunk into re-doing something that wasn't done right the first time! Live and learn I suppose.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 2:29PM
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I haven't been able to read the whole thread but I thought that I'd throw in what our very successful neighborhood RE agent told me -- I had asked her what people were looking for in kitchens, and she sent me pics of kitchens that she thought had "sold the house" in my moderate -to-upscale suburb here in Ohio:

They were all light cabinets (mostly painted, a few stained) with dark counters (can't say if granite or not) and neutral backsplashes (like what you have already). I think it is the high contrast that people like. I have to say, I like it myself!

And, my neighbor across the street just had her kitchen re-done for the sole purpose of re-sale--she plans to retire and move in the next year -- she contacted the other top successful RE agent in the area and got the name of the contractor that they use for "updating" and such, then told the guy to just do whatever he thought most saleable within her budget. Guess what she got? Beige stone tile floor, beige stone tile backsplash, white cabs, black counter and stainless steel. (It does look very nice, too, in her 1941 cottage)

I like your kitchen as it is, too -- not what I am doing in mine, but I would buy it no problem. Think really hard about this "project creep" as kris_ma has pointed out.

You can get a similar sink, with the cutting board and colander, at Lowe's for about $100 less, or at Ikea.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 3:58PM
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I think new appliances are a smart move.
But, honestly, I would not get a wow sink. Just a nice SS single bowl sink:

And have you looked at prefab granite? How many sqft of countertop do you need? And definitely see if you can get a free sink thrown in.

And if you decide to go with a different faucet, maybe something like this:

And how many square feet of floor would you get tiled?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 5:07PM
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As I was reading some earlier entries about the backsplash potential problem I thought about the company "Granite Transformation" I don't think they are any cheaper, but they fabricate a countertop using your current counters as an underlayment. The granite is more of a 1/2" or so veneer that is placed over your counters. That may be what @nosoccermom is talking about, when she says "pre-fab. Anyway, I would think your backsplash could stay.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 6:58PM
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One friend who did the granite counter w/o changing cabinets or the bs handled the tiny gap by just going to Lowe's and finding a piece flat trim that was pretty small. They painted it to match the tile and just glued it in place. It actually looks like a piece of tile trim. It worked out just fine.

I'm not even sure you can find a Ticor sink anymore--or are they back? I thought they were disappearing. If you do go granite then hopefully they will throw in a sink, just take it.

Do you have to include a fridge? Except for built in ones, I don't think most people even expect them to be included. They usually ask for it, but don't always get it. New appliances do have the added advantage that they are all new and are under warranty.

And I have to laugh. I'm sitting in a room and the TV is on in the other room to keep me company. And I think house hunters (or something) is on. I swear, I just heard a woman say "Is that real granite? That's it, I'm done, I don't need to see anymore, I'll just live in the kitchen".....hah

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:25PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I wouldn't bother with the granite...the home looks lovely and perfectly sellable....and a new owner may decide to rip out the entire kitchen anyway.

DH and I had 3 bids on our house in 2 weeks...we were very realistic about it's value....we did a good job of looking at comps in town and set the price to sell.

If your house has been available for so long, I would do a good job of checking the comparables on the market now and see if a price adjustment is warranted.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:51PM
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Thanks, kris_ma and raee, for chiming in about project creep. I know it all too well, believe me. I don't think I stated my original question clearly (I was looking more for feedback on specific granite choices than general update ideas - but I welcome all suggestions) and there's no way anyone can read all that's been written here. So let me explain my thinking.

Our house has been on the market in its current state for about six months (originally sold eight months ago fully furnished). In that time we have had lots of showings, lots of second (and third and fourth) showings, but no offers. I've tried to figure out why that is and came to this conclusion: it looks good when you zip through it, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. And buyers today scrutinize, at least around here they do. Who ever heard of looking at a house four times? To be honest, there are a lot of "I hope they don't notice that" spots in the house, and the kitchen has most of them. My husband and I discussed replacing the floor (not because it's vinyl, but because it isn't in great shape) and the range years ago. The kitchen is smaller than the kitchens in comparable homes. Overall, if you were to list the top positives and negatives of the house, the kitchen would be near the top of the negatives list. I want to put in on the positive list. We know that one house that beat out ourse was a similar size and location, but listed for $40,000 more. That suggests that people want nicer stuff and are willing to pay for it. We had a comment, "Really liked the house, but found another they had to have." We want to be the house they have to have. Buyers will pay a lot more for a house they have to have than one that is similar to a lot of others. I think if we left our house as is it would sell for $305,000 in three months. I hope that if we put in $7000 or $8000 it will sell for $10,000 or $15,000 more in one month. We are not just being impatient, either. This is my fourth house sale and I've waited a full year to get the price we want. Our local economy is largely dependent on the humongous air force base nearby. The sequestration and pending military cuts could really hurt home sales and we want to get out as quickly as we can.

Now, if I were staying in this house I would probably spend $4000 on a professionally-installed porcelain-tile floor. I would probably spend another $2000 on a nice range. I would DEFINITELY replace that nasty sink and faucet, and I would want to replace the backsplash with something more my taste. That would lead to true project creep because I'd think I might as well replace all the appliances and the countertop while I'm at it. And why spend on that on a kitchen that would still have cabinets I'm not crazy about?

But I digress.

Nosoccermom, I think it's about 310-330 sq ft total to tile.

Flwrs_n_co, thanks for the input.

Homeblessings, I have to get over to the other thread and see what they have to say. Thanks for specific recommendations for faucets and sinks. I would never spend the money on the one I posted. I will ultimately cheap out.

Autumn.4, thanks for the compliment on my new kitchen. We are loving it. And thanks for sharing your experience.

Bee, thanks for the idea - I think we'll try something like that to save the backsplash. I'm also thinking something dark like uba tuba will work best with the current backsplash. What do you think? That's a funny story about the granite. If only HGTV were the real world!

I don't have to include the refrigerator. When I asked the realtor about that he thought it was definitely best to have it. People are usually leaving them these days because they never match the new house and everyone seems to care.

Enduring, I'll give Granite Transformations a call or stop in tomorrow to see what they say.

Annie, thanks for the input. Nobody around here rips out kitchens in a house like this. They build instead. I always replace carpet in a house because I'm allergic to the previous owners' pets (and they always have pets!) and people think I'm insane. We are in a very practical, non-TKO little world here. I've talked to a lot of realtors, and we think the price is good. It's not bargain-priced, but it's appropriately priced.

I hope I didn't miss anyone! I value all the input and I welcome bargains on sinks and faucets.

Right now I'm thinking:

- light colored ceramic floor (same size and color as the tile in our entry hall)

- uba tuba granite because it has the best chance of matching the backsplash, which will be saved

- stainless undermount sink and "chef's dream" faucet - suggestions welcome

- nice-looking, but bargain-priced appliances (tentatively purchased but still looking for bargains).

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Unless you are in a weird area of the country, renovations rarely pay for themselves in sale price. I think it's unrealistic to think that you can put in 7-8K and get 10-15K back.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 9:27PM
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By prefab I didn't mean granite transformations (I think there have been some horrible reviews). I meant that you can buy standard size granite countertops, which may be cheaper (like 26.00/sqft).
Also, not to throw you another curve ball, but if you have about 300 sqft of floor, you should be able to get hardwood floors for the same amount or even less than the tile price you were quoted. I'm in an expensive area and paid 6.00/sqft for site-finished hardwood. At least where I live, HW floors would be preferable to tile, but, of course, it depends on the rest of your floors.
If you have a Costco nearby, they have a deal for a Grohe kitchen faucet for 200.00 (with a 50.00 coupon).

Also, you can look online for Cyber Monday deals for appliances and ask if someone else will match.

Also, Sears Outlet: http://www.searsoutlet.com/Refrigerators/d/category.jsp?md=ct_md&cid=695&SetOmVert=true

Here is a link that might be useful: prefab granit ecounters

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Julie, I agree that it sounds unrealistic! In our price range it seems that you either sell your house right away for close to the asking price or it sits for months and you have to drop it below market value. I'm hoping to put it back in the "right away" category when it goes back on the market, but I may be crazy. A quick sale also saves us hundreds of dollars a month in insurance, taxes, and utilities.

Nosoccermom, a big chunk of the area to be tiled is the hall coming in from the garage and a bathroom that are much better tiled. I have hardwood in the adjacent dining room that is pretty much the same color as the cabinets. I'll check out all the other links - thanks! And keep the curve balls coming. I may be missing something obvious.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:05PM
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I agree look updates matter. We sold our place a couple years ago and the feedback was that the kitchen was the best feature. We did prefab granite for $2700. It was Santa Cecilia which was on sale at the place. $300 new cooktop from the appliance clearance place. $150 for a stainless hood. A new faucet with pull down (on sale at Costco). Knobs on our builder grade cabinets. Took about a week to get it all done. Got 2 offers on day 1. There were 2 other homes in the area including one with a larger lot. I feel it paid for itself. Sometimes a little lipstick really helps.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 1:29AM
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GWlolo, I'm glad your sale went so well for you! I'm still having all kinds of doubts about spending any money (yes, I listen to those who tell me I don't have to do anything!), but my husband is gung-ho about doing whatever it takes to get it sold quickly.

I just spent most of the day obsessing over a kitchen sink I'll never use. Part of me wants to buy the cheapest one, but if it's mounted to the granite, I want it to be a nice one that will last. Help!

I changed my granite choice moments before ordering to steel gray, and I'm keeping the white appliances except for the range which isn't really working well anymore. The money I save on the extra granite and the cut out for a slide-in will just about pay for a new one anyway.

We will try to keep the backsplash, but if it doesn't work out I'm thinking about something mostly white to tie in with the white appliances. Trying to embrace the white.

I found an inexpensive porcelain tile that I think will look very nice, but not too cheap, for the floor.

My latest estimate total is down to $5000 - $6000. I sure hope this all comes together well.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 11:55PM
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Reduce the price of the house and do not do any work on the kichen. You are putting in a fair amount of effort, money and opening yourself up to risk of more issues during the process. And delaying the sale while you do this work - right in the prime spring season! Your house did not sell because the listing got stale and you are likely priced too high. Take the house off the market long enough to get 0 days again and drop the price by 10-15K or whatever range to get some attention and kick this into a sale.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Homeblessings suggested I update this so you'd know how it turned out.

First, I want to tell you how much I appreciate all the input here, especially those who said not to do anything. I needed to look at it hard and long before spending any money, and that input was valuable. After talking more to real estate agents and analyzing the local market to death, I realized almost all the potential buyers of our house over the last six months or so have been those moving in from out-of-town. Most are military officers or doctors. They are looking for bargains, and they are looking for resale when they move in 4 years. Our home was priced at $325,000, which was right for the market of local buyers who value our neighborhood and the nearby schools, but locals don't start buying houses until May or June (last summer everything sold in our neighborhood in July). Out-of-town buyers were looking at houses ranging from $325,000 to $400,000 and ultimately buying houses that cost about $360,000. We didn't want to wait until summer and we couldn't count on local buyers even then because pending military spending cuts could really hurt the local market. We decided to upgrade as cost-efficiently as possible to get the house sold in April.

My friend replaced the vinyl floor, which had seen better days, with a low-cost porcelain tile from Home Depot. The difference doesn't show in pictures, but it's huge in real life. It cost about $2000 total. A real estate agent asked me who did it because she wants to upgrade her own house to sell it.

I replaced the appliances with stainless steel. I was back and forth about this one. I was only going to replace the range and microhood (for reasons stated above somewhere) but then I realized I had to replace the dishwasher with one that would fit into the decreased vertical space the new tile caused. I got a good deal on the new appliances and with tax and delivery it was $2050. I sold the old ones on craigslist for close to $1000, so the total cost was less than $1100.

I replaced the countertops with steel grey granite, and the sink and faucet at the same time. The sink and faucet REALLY had to go. I think by the time I added in the new sink, faucet, and plumbing labor, the cost was less than $4000.

I was able to save the backsplash. I had to take one tile off to remove the old counters, but I glued it back in place after. I dealt with the gap between the new granite and the old backsplash by caulking with a sanded caulk that matched the grout perfectly. If that didn't work I was going to try Bee's painted trim idea from above.

My total cost was $7000-$7500. One of the agents we'd talked to asked to show the house before it was on the market to a buyer just in for the week (floor was done and appliances were just being delivered) and we ended up selling it. The couple who bought it tried to buy a $400,000 house first and weren't able to reach a deal. The wife is a military doctor who will be here 4 years, and I don't think they would have considered a house without the upgrades.

We'll never know if we got our money back, but we do know that the house is sold. With the high percentage of military/short-term buyers in our market, this decision made sense to me.

Here's the before/after. I know there are still problems with the "after" - especially that refrigerator sticking out - but it's good enough.

Sorry this post is horrendously long, and thanks again for all the advice!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:09PM
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I think it looks great. Sounds like you really did your research about the buyers. This should be it for those who must have granite and SS.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Wonderful job!! Great facelift! I think it will be a great selling point!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Congratulations on your updates and your sale! It is so stressful having a house on the market, I am glad it all worked out for you.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 6:28AM
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Great job!!! It looks fab!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:12AM
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Congratulations on the sale! Your research paid off.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Congratulations on the sale! Your research paid off.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:13AM
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