Granite Countertops: When to Say No

Posted by Caryn Colgan | Oct 19, 2009
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Are you looking to increase the value of your home in a hurry? Not so fast. Don’t rush into making decisions that cost more than you’ll ever recover when you eventually sell your home. One such potential mistake is installing granite countertops. While granite is the most popular countertop due to its beauty and almost indestructible nature, it can be a very expensive option when compared to alternatives such as polished concrete, engineered stone like Corian, stainless steel, hardwood, ceramic tile, or laminate.

Even though most real estate experts claim granite increases the value of a home, you need to take into account the total cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining the slab. If you, the homeowner, plan to live in the home for at least ten years, the countertop may be worth the expense. However, if you’re planning to put in a granite countertop only to increase your home's value, more research may be in order.

Before you invest in granite or other expensive, high-end material for your home, consider these 3 important points. 

  • Is your home a "luxury" property?
  • What are the current market conditions?
  • What return on investment can you expect?
  1. Is your home a "luxury" property?

Would your property be considered a high-end home by real estate experts and home buyers? If so, then granite may be the best choice for your home. Buyers in your area likely expect to see high-end finishes throughout the home, including granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. However, keep in mind that, depending on the home's style, another less expensive option might achieve a similar upscale look without the high-end price tag.

If your property is not a luxury home located in a high-end neighborhood, then save your money and choose a less expensive countertop option. Buyers do not expect granite countertops in the average home and will not want to pay for them.

  1. What are the current market conditions?

Even if your house is considered a luxury home, consider current market conditions and the neighborhood where it’s located before you shell out top dollar for upgrades. In a declining market or recession, home buyers are generally looking for bargains. Throwing more money into a property will probably not help the home's value or make it sell faster.

Also, a luxury home located in an area with a high crime rate or where junk cars accumulate in a neighbor's front yard will be negatively impacted at resale time. Granite alone will not help it sell. 

  1. What return on investment can you expect?

Real estate experts and buyers often evaluate a property's value based on price per square foot. Luxury items such as granite countertops may figure into the price but not necessarily dollar for dollar. In the short-term, if you want to break even or make a profit, consider a less expensive material.

Before you hire a contractor to install granite countertops, consider all options. Consult a local real estate agent for the most current advice on pricing the property with and without the upgrade. You may be surprised to learn that the value is about the same. If expensive countertops will not increase the sales price or help the property sell more quickly, then consider less costly options.

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