Should we update our kitchen counters?

sunnnySeptember 5, 2009

Hello, I'm the woman with the piano who some will remember from previous threads. We are now 2 months on the market and have many showings and 2 open houses with good attendance but no offers (other than one on day 4 but she backed out due to she did n't want septic which is ALL you have out in this area). We went several weeks without showings but I was told it was slow all over town and now have had 3 this week. We have probably averaged about 3 per week since first listed.

Last week we put new lighting (a nice old rubbed bronze type finish) in the breakfast area and over the piano and have taken some "stuff" out of the living room. We just decided to add $1500 towards closing costs with a good offer and also are offering a 1 year home warranty. We've dropped the price $2000 to $82 per sq ft which is still slightly higher than others in my area but those are NOT updated.We have nearly everything new such as AC/Heat pump ($4000), new roof,($4000) new hot water heater, newer appliances, newer fence, new paint and all new lighting/fans and new carpeting I'm told we're at a good price. Some of the homes here are priced at $78 but they look VERY dated.

My question is that my kitchen counters are in good condition (not used as a cutting board LOL) but are the old almond laminate. I can replace them for about $400 if we DIY which we're good at. Do you feel it would show better and make a difference? No one in my area has solid or granite so I won't go that route but would consider adding an updated color of laminate. I also know how to tile so could possibly add a simple tile backsplash behind the stove for some WOW factor. Our cabinets are a nice oak and are in good condition.

What are your thoughts??

Getting anxious!!!


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Sunny, I understand what you mean about making the kitchen feel more custom with tile and new counters but those can be really personal choices and a buyer might appreciate an allowance instead.

From the pictures I actually don't mind the countertops, it's the kitchen light that looks much more dated to me. I would consider replacing the big rectangular light with some recessed lights if possible. The lighting change would be less of a DIY friendly project than the countertops so a buyer might appreciate the lighting update more.

The oak cabinets, although in great condition, actually look dated to me, but I think you need the wood color to warm up the space with all the tile-maybe just some different cabinet knobs/pulls?

The house is very clean and uncluttered but in some areas looks a little bare. Maybe add some more artwork on the walls in the eat in area in the kitchen. The artwork above the sofa might look better if there were two or three pictures instead of the one to help balance the length of the sofa in the space.

Rugs would be nice to break up and warm up all the expansive tile and ground the furniture so it doesn't look like it's sort of floating, it will also help define room spaces. Something simple like a solid warm nuetral color with just some texture would be nice-more like a natural Rattan, not like a plush or shag. I would place them under the piano, kitchen table area, sofa/coffee table area.

In the Master bedroom I would love to see more art on the walls as well. The art over the bed seems too large and unbalanced with the curve of the headboard- you could try two smaller same size pictures placed on either side of the middle hump in the headboard. Maybe take the bed off the risers and get rid of one of the night stands and lamps, since they don't look like they match-could just be the picture. If the nightstands do match then I would get matching lamps.

You might consider changing out the cafe curtain in the kitchen table area to a solid instead of a print.

Fresh flowers for an open house or showing in almost any room can be nice.

The septic tank-We almost didn't buy our house because it has a septic tank (on the listing they had marked city sewage) however, with a pump and inspection paid for by the seller, we were able to find out the construction and condition of it, and we felt better about it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 12:52PM
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I hope you aren't offended, but I'm going to comment on some things you didn't ask. I think it's easy to get caught up in all of the little things you can fix on your house and you can fix your house up too much. I don't recall your earlier posts, but based on the above post, I feel that you may may be updating things like the fence, appliances, and other things that possibly aren't going to help increase your selling price. Those updates may help someone choose your home over another home in the neighborhood and help you to sell faster, but it probably won't get you a better price. If you are priced comparatively higher than your neighbors, then you may be priced too high.

I don't know your market, but in my market if you're getting as many showings as you say you have and you aren't getting any offers, then the problem is price.

As far as your kitchen counters, I could probably go either way on it. If they are in good condition though, I'd probably just leave them "as is". If the upgrade is another laminate, then it probably isn't worth your time.

Good luck! I hope you are able to sell soon.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 1:39PM
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Thank you for your comments. Let me see if I can explain some things and then I'll work on some suggestions. First, I've not updated just because we're selling. Last year we had a hail storm so had the roof replaced and 2 years ago the AC/heat pump went out. The fence was blown over with straight winds and torn up a few years ago and 2 years ago our hot water heater leaked and flooded the house.
Even if I tried I don't know if I could explain what all we've been through at this home the past 18 years. We laugh and say it's jinxed! Our Septic tank is on a type of pressure system and years ago backed up into our house flooding it. It's time for a change to say the least.
The few things we've done just for the sale is changing the lighting that we did last week, painting my kids rooms and the exterior along with some repairs which needed to be done anyway.
Just last week I removed the living room rug which I acutally liked but we thought we'd try without it. It brings in a nice warmth to the room so I might bring it back in. I have 2 nice framed pieces of art work I'll put over the bed and I've actually thought about changing the cafe curtain so that's an easy fix.
Hopefully with the new incentives will help and POSSIBLY drop the price again in a few weeks. I don't think I'm willing to do the recessed lighting although it's one of the things I've wanted to do for awhile.
The lamps and night stands in the bedroom now match since I got 2 out of storage. :)
There are 7 houses for sale in our 5 block neighborhood and MANY more in the few near neighborhoods so there's lots of competition including some brand new homes.
I'll work on a few changes and see what happens!
Maybe I'll wait on the coutners!
Thanks so much, I know I can always come here for advice.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 3:18PM
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Sunny, your house is lovely. I thought you must be in TX after reading your opening post, so I can definitely relate. Have you had any feedback regarding having so much tile in the living areas? I really like it, and know how much cooler it is in these hot summers. I would add a rug though.

We have only septic out here too, and our plus, if you want to call it that, is that we have the lateral lines rather than aerobic with it's added maintenance and expense.

I wouldn't worry about the laminate either. You never know what people want now, with all the home shows on tv leading them to the newest fads. I think your cabinets are fine and wouldn't tear out perfectly good, solid wood cabinets, if that is what they are.

Just my opinion, and I'm out of touch with the latest trends. I go for function over form every time.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 3:58PM
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I have a friend with a $1M house who has a grand piano in the dining room. :)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 4:00PM
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If you have a lot of competition, then price is usually the major consideration for buyers. Either you wait to find the one buyer who is willing to pay more, or you lower your price. In today's market, those are really the only options, I'm afraid.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 6:08PM
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Can you show a new link to your house?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 11:03AM
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I thought your house looked fine in the pictures. I wouldn't worry about the curtains above the kitchen table and I thought your kitchen cabinets looked good, the style isn't dated at all.

As far as the countertops, updating them for $400 might be money well spent, that isn't a huge amount. What does your realtor say?

A neutral rug in the living room might look nice. But really, if your house isn't selling it is probably the price. You just have a bad market there and if your house is priced too high it just won't sell.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 11:13AM
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