But, to your question: Granite's time is over, unless the goal is to recreate a Y2K-style kitchen. Also - it's not just the countertops, but the cabinets and the floors and the appliances to consider - if they're going to be ancient and beat up, there's no point in doing the countertops; the room only looks as good as it's ugliest component.
Plus, even if you do the kitchen, then you have a great kitchen and tired bathrooms ...
My advice, without having seen your house? Paint. Clean. And clean again. Literally, the kitchens and baths must be clean enough to eat off of. If you can accomplish that, your work is done. Let the next person remodel the kitchen and baths!
This greatly depends on your neighborhood and what your competion has installed. In most cases value is the driving force. While potential buyers are expecting to see granite in a kitchen's surfaces, you will not get the return on investment when you install granite or even solid surfaces like Corian or Silestone. The higher quality laminates with stone like finishes will get you a similar premium look, and most people will not see the diference. When you put a premium laminate you can expect to get almost all the money back in resale value. With a granite or solid surface top, you will recapture only a fraction of your investment. I tell my remodelers "If you are doing it to satisfy your own preferences go with the solid surfaces. If you are doing it for resale value install the laminates."
Good luck on your decision,
On the other hand, can you truly choose the correct finishes to the taste of that buyer? My thought might be to clean it the best you can and offer an allowance of $xxx for counters, cabinets or floors.
I'm not versed well enough as to whether this is real cash out at closing for the buyer or if the banks object to this and it would just be a lower sales price???
If the kitchen isn't cleanable, then I'd suggest trying to replicate what's already there - if it's orange or blue retro-space-age Formica, go with that! Chances are, it will look better restored than with a couple - and only a couple - of "modern touches" added.
Are all the other places near you coming with the granite, or are they the old unremodeled houses they were built as? There is no reason to upgrade past your competition as that puts you in the wrong price point compared to your competition. If you think in reverse if you have an older kitchen and sell cheaper it could get more people to look at your place. Price sells. And some people dislike granite, It is hard and breaks dishes much easier than normal sideboards do.
From a blog I read awhile ago it appears that any improvement you do on your house will not give you back more than 87% of the 100% you spend. And many were a lot less like 70%. Another thing to consider.
Once an area is updated makes other areas in home appear dated, keep in mind lighting, hardware, flooring and etc need be considered
National Featured Realtor and Consultant, Texas Mortgage Loan Officer, Credit Repair Lecturer
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lynn911
You have some very good answers below.
The key is this - if a buyer wanted to buy in a neighborhood like yours, what would their options be?
My recommendation would be to talk with a local Realtor who knows the market and have them analyze your entire home, not just the kitchen.
When a buyer looks at the property they have a unique perspective. If you were prepared to invest some money, say $3,000, where should it be used? I had a client that put $6K into a bathroom (which was gorgeous) but she had no money to paint the interior (which it needed) and change the carpet.
Today's buyers, regardless of the geographical area, are informed, intelligent, and expect to find value with their purchase of a home today.
Upon entering a home, buyers initially look around an come up with their first impression of the home but almost always gravitate to the kitchen area where family members spend a great deal of time(that goes far beyond meal time). For many, THIS is the most important area of the home.......
People expect to find up to an up to date kitchen work area that includes, appliances, lighting, flooring as well as cabinets and counter tops. Additionally, most buyers expect to find some sort of solid surface counter, corian, stone, granite etc. are among the most desirable.
Our recommendation is to not view this decision as one that increased the value of your home but one that will improve the overall sale ability of your home. Hopefully, by making the decision to do the right improvements, it will allow your home to make a statement that will attract buyers.
Best wishes with your decision.
The Eckler Team