Can Granite Countertops Sell Your Home?

Ads for new and resale homes alike usually note if the kitchen has been upgraded with granite. Many homes are using faux décor items to save money, such as quartz instead of granite counter tops. Others use laminate instead of hardwood floors.

That raises a question for someone planning to put a home up for sale in this competitive marketplace: To draw the best price, should you tear out the old laminate countertops and replace them with shiny new granite? Is that what buyers expect?

The choices aren’t limited to actual granite. Some people prefer man-made materials made mostly of ground quartz, such as Zodiaq (made by DuPont) and Silestone (made by Cosentino USA). They have much of the sparkle and shine of the real thing but with a uniformity that’s tough to find at a quarry. And you can get them in brilliant hues not available with real granite, such as cobalt blue and bright red.

Corian, a solid-surface acrylic material made by DuPont, is another upgrade option. It’s less expensive than granite and the quartz-based surfaces, but it doesn’t have the same cachet. And though it certainly has its fans, some people heartily dislike the stuff, especially in plain beige.

Real-estate agents and an appraiser offered mixed opinions on whether it’s worthwhile for a buyer to invest in a countertop upgrade. Mostly, they said, it depends on two factors. Is that what has been done by most of your neighbors — and competing sellers? And how up-to-date and well-maintained is the rest of the house?

“Granite seems to be what’s expected in homes costing half a million dollars or higher,” said Ken Jenkins, a senior residential appraiser who works around the Washington, D.C., area.

Countertop material is something he takes note of when doing an appraisal, but he warned that the whole kitchen needs to have materials of comparable quality. He said he has seen homes where the owners simply put new granite counters atop banged-up old cabinets — an approach that adds neither value nor marketability.

Judy Hanrahan, an agent with Re/Max Advantage Realty in Silver Spring, Md., advocates spiffing up the kitchen, but within limits. Up-to-date appliances are as important as the countertop and cabinets.

And even though kitchens and bathrooms are the biggest attraction for many, you shouldn’t blow all your spiff-up cash on them. “Sometimes you see people go so overboard improving one place and ignoring someplace else in the house that needs to be taken care of,” Hanrahan said.