should i invest in new kitchen counters before listing?

suz1023May 31, 2012

so the million dollar question of the week in this house is--should we invest a couple of thousand on countertops to 'finish' off the kitchen before listing?

the house is 95% done, inside and out, but dh is ill and, well you can guess the rest.

we live downhill from a ski area in an area of bdrm communites and resort homes in vermont.

ours may or may not be the nicest house on the road, but for sure we have the most amazing backyard--waterfalls and swimming holes just outside the back of the house plus acreage.

the last thing to do would have been a fabulous new kitchen, and i have the architect's plans for it still.

instead we have our 11'6x 15 extremely well functioning kitchen which has cruddy ancient mismatched counters. i know installing counters would make the kitchen look 100% better,but have to do it on an extremely limited budget.

the rest of the house has high end materials throughout, so part of me thinks soapstone,being all vermonty and all.

but at double the cost will take longer to accomplish and thus longer to list.

i happen to like formica and can get the job done in laminate for 2 grand i bet.

which would you do?

realtors insist i get new counters no matter what.

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If laminate isn't common in new houses where you are I wouldn't do it. While it is boring if I was getting counters for sale purposes I would get an inexpensive but nice looking granite.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 7:46PM
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You can more than likely do laminate for a few hundred. If I was looking I would rather plan on putting in counters I want in a nice house then being stuck living with granite counters I hated because I 'paid' for them in the purchase price and redoing them would be too overwhelming.

I would love soapstone counters but I know many don�t want to deal with the fact that they will age and show life.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Try marketing it with the current kitchen and the plan for the new one, if the plans belong to you.

If I wanted your house an old kitchen would not stop me, nor would new laminate counters in an old kitchen make me want it more. But I Might not buy a house with a new kitchen that I didn't like, because I would not want to redo it, and waste new materials (and feel like I was paying for two kitchens).

I bought a house that got a new bathroom between the first time I saw it and when I made the offer. I didn't offer any more for it because of the new bathroom and had there not been a competing offer I would have offered Less. The new bathroom is Terrible. The person making the other offer hated it too. I am not saying you would do something terrible, but they put in a very cheap new bathroom upon someone's advice, and neither of the people offering were interested in it.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Hi Pal,

You must agree, however, that you're not the typical buyer out there ;-)

I'm in your corner though. If I adore the rest of the house, kitchen counters aren't going to stop me, nor is out-dated wallpaper or hardware or anything as superficial.

There are many people who are much different. I have a friend that didn't purchase "the perfect house" because "the dining room would have to painted" (?????)! A lot of people prefer someone else to make those decisions for them... not unlike our political system >;-) but I digress...

I have another friend who took me along looking for her next rental in a house because I knew the area - I grew up there. At first we left without making a deposit, but a 1/2 block away I talked her into going back to put a deposit down. She's been there 9 yrs and her rent has never gone up! I shudder to think if the place hadn't recently been painted (very tasteful neutrals - still looks great today!), she never would have gone for it.

Me? I want to upgrade my kitchen counters for ME before I have to think about selling, just something a little bit up from white laminate ;-)

But having to sell? I'd say replace them with something cheapest/best. The vast majority still want it done for them. But I'd write it off, not expecting any ROI.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:56PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Put in DIY stock laminate counters than you can buy ready to go from any box store. You won't spend $500 doing that and it will be nice looking enough to appeal to those who want to live with it a while before doing any remodeling and cheap enough that those who want to gut it immediately won't feel guilty ripping them out.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:04AM
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Me? It wouldn't bother me to have to put in new kitchen counters. My husband? Doesn't want to remodel and he considers new counters remodeling. When we were looking for a house it put me in a difficult position. There were houses I would have been fine with if we replaced the counters but DH didn't want to do the replacing. It wasn't an economic thing, just not wanting to deal with it. We ended up finding a house that had granite we liked so it worked out.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:38AM
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If your counters are old and mismatched as you say, I would put in new just to get them to match and make the kitchen more appealing to buyers. Is there a store that sells remnants near you? You could get a better quality stone at a lesser price going that route. I'm just not a fan of formica or laminates having had them in previous homes. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:05AM
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Pictures would help!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:01PM
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You could do Ikea butcher block for under $500. I have it, and I absolutely hate it, but it's "nicer" than laminate, easy to install, easy to remove, looks nice if you only have to live with it while you're selling/showing, and coordinates well with soapstone if the buyers want to mix them later.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 2:48PM
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I'd 2nd the IKEA butcher block assuming it would work with your kitchen. Low cost and easy to install.

I'd only do laminate if it is within keeping of the other houses in the area.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:26PM
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Yeah, you can stain the ikea butcherblock for a richer look, or if you want to spend a little more you can get a variety of woods like black walnut from craft art. Take a look in the kitchen forum--there are some gorgeous counters there.

Even if you have to hire a carpenter to do the install/finishing for you, it's still a nice look for less.

Cocontom, just out of curiosity, what do you hate about the BB counters?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 12:25PM
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We just did a mineral oil and beeswax finish, rather than Waterlox or poly, which is the root of my problem. Tom and I are both slobs, and everything either sticks to the counters or stains them. Also, oiling them is a pain (once literally, when I stubbed my toe on the stand mixer, which I put on the floor while I oiled the counter it goes on).

I can't decide whether I want to sand and Waterlox them or just have them covered with stainless steel.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Thanks. I'm pretty seriously considering BB for my kitchen redo, but I definitely wouldn't want the maintenance of an oiled finish.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 4:43PM
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I have the IKEA butcher block counters. I finished them with many, many coats of tung oil and they are pretty impervious. It makes for a very hard, durable finish. (Just as an FYI).

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:17PM
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Mick Mick

Are the cabinets older? Will the kitchen need to be replaced by the next owners? If so, that is like putting lipstick on a pig. I would get something modest and inexpensive (laminate) or clean-clean-clean the existing countertops.

Also, granite countertops wouldn't be that big of a selling point with me.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:22PM
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Now that you have said, "the rest of the house has high end materials throughout", why don't you want to give the best to your kitchen as well? You might as well wait for a bit, it won't harm you much you see. Just an opinion, Best of luck my pal! :)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:02AM
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most high end homes around here have granite or soapstone.
my cabs are pretty nice hardwood, from a resale shop too, so they were a great price.
i'm partial to laminate and soapstone myself, no granite for me.
so, we'll probably run some decent laminate all the way around to 'finish' it off.
because we have a vulcan range some of the counters will be extra deep, which i can most easily afford in laminate anyway.
and if we sell we'll include the architect's plans for the new kitchen.
that's gonna have to do for now.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 10:32AM
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What do other houses in your price range have?

THEY are your sales competition.

Also remember that a slower sale increases carrying costs.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 10:49AM
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