House hunters.....questions for You

Updated on April 23, 2014
S.M. asks from Elcho, WI
32 answers

We are getting our kitchen remodeled in three weeks. Our goal is to fix it up enough to make it sellable. The contractors said we could save money by scraping the ceiling ourselves. It seems like a lot of work and I'm just wondering if it would be worth it in the end. The other thing is for the new cabinets does the wood type the kitchen has really make a difference? Maple would be my preference but oak is the cheapest.
So my question is would the cottage cheese looking ceilings be a turnoff for you when you're searching for a house and what about the type of wood for cabinets? Would that be a deal breaker?
And just an FYI: for the counter tops we were going to put in quartz but the contractor told us if we want to flip this house fast then go with a high resolution laminent cuz they still can still have the look of quartz but way cheaper. Anyone have them? Love or hate?

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answers from Reading on

Hate cottage cheese. Hate oak. Hate laminate. All three are deal breakers for me unless I was expecting to do the kitchen over and pay a lower price.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would not do the kitchen. You will not recoup the money. Chances are the new buyers will come in and gut the kitchen. Either do it and do it right or do not do it at all and give the new buyers a credit for the kitchen.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It wouldn't be a deal breaker to have cottage cheese ceilings but I wouldn't love it either. I prefer white cabinets rather than just the "wood: colored ones. It just makes the whole kitchen look so much more brighter and cleaner. If I had a kitchen with laminate counter tops I would someday have to rip them out and change them to either a nice tile, cement or granite. I don't care what the laminate looks like, I hate that type of counter top.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Wichita Falls on

Scraping a ceiling is not a big deal (unless you have 12 foot ceilings) and yes I would drop the expecting price I would pay if it had popcorn ceilings.

There is a tool designed to scrape a ceiling. It has a scraper and a holder to catch most of what you scrape off. If you want it all off, wet with a sprayer first. If you are okay with the orange peel look, scrape dry (dry is a lot easier).

BUT, and I cannot stress this enough, have the ceiling tested first for asbestos. It was outlawed in the '70's but contractors were allowed to use up leftover stock for years afterward. You do NOT want to mess with it if it is, and the cost of the test is absolutely worth it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

If I were you I would figure out how much it would cost and discount for that amount. I don't mean list it for that much less, list it correctly and say there is XXX allowance for the kitchen. I sure wouldn't pay full price for a house with a half assed kitchen, most wouldn't. If you like maple, what if the perfect buyer loves oak. Kitchens are such a personal thing I really do think you would be better off with the, I know the kitchen sucks so here is the money, do it yourself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I've seen oak with a dark stain I like, just don't make it a honey oak color.

The ceiling is becoming more important but not deal breaking just yet but it might make it sell quicker if it were scraped.

The counter tops would be according to the neighborhood and it's expectations. A local realtor would be knowledgeable of the expectations for your area. Call one and get a free market evaluation and a good opinion on options. They've seen the other houses on the market and know what you are up against. You could also check out homes for sale and form your own opinion.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

All three would be deal breakers or at least I'd expect a price reduction if I liked the rest of the house.

To me it doesn't make sense to not remove the dated stuff and put in current materials if you're going bother remodeling at all. Why waste ANY money on oak or laminate? Most people will see those as detractors not incentives to buy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Is your goal to flip the house and make money?

We bought our first house that was used and we fixed it up because I hated the wallpaper, paint job, carpet. We were there about 2 years, sold it and then we have built 2 homes from scratch.

I prefer to build but if I could not do that, I would prefer an allowance for the cabinets, carpets, flooring, counter tops so that I could install what I liked as far as my preference. I don't like oak cabinets and I don't like laminate. I like higher quality throughout my house such as the travertine tile and nailed down "real" hardwoods. My countertop is Corian and I am still pleased with that choice.

You are talking about putting in cheap products to move the house fast but if you put in quality instead of cheap, I think it would sell better. If I went into a home and it had laminate and oak because that is cheap, I would not buy it because I would know right off the bat that the owners installed the cheapest products. SO, if the cheaper products are installed to save money, then what is behind the walls, AC/heat, water heaters, garage doors, etc. It goes on and on. You can't hide cheap... or make cheap look like quality. Most buyers can tell the difference... unless you get an unexperienced buyer.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I prefer a SMOOTH ceiling....I never liked "popcorn" nor the 'cottage cheese' and that would make me steer clear of your house to purchase.

Cabinets? If you are getting ready to sell? Go with the highest grade you can afford and still be able to recoup your costs. I don't mind natural wood color nor do I mind white. White will show EVERY speck of dirt. But they are nice looking and white on top with dark on the bottom actually make the space appear larger.

I also would measure your cabinets. I was looking at a home for sale a few months ago with a newly "upgraded" kitchen...the top cabinets looked great....BUT they were only 9 or 10" way would plates fit in them...

I would NOT buy laminate. I would go with granite or quartz - even concrete - there's a LOT you can do. I'm trying to get rid of the counter tops we have now....but there's a LOT we want to do with the kitchen - so it's not that easy (add a pantry, move the fridge, move the microwave to above the stove, install a lazy susan in the corner once those choices get made - we can do the counter tops!!)

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Do not do the kitchen. I am so sick of seeing kitchen remodels. I want to design my own kitchen!!! We are cooks!!!! The kitchen is the most important room to us, so we want to remodel it ourselves.

Give a kitchen allowance. If the realtors disagrees, then maple and real stone.

I like popcorn ceilings. But ceilings are one thing I don't consider when buying a house. Quality of doors, cabinets, etc. Yes, but ceilings? We look for obvious signs of problems. Texture doesn't bother me.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

It's really difficult to answer your question reasonably. What "I" like or hate is relative to what I am accustomed to and can afford. I have no idea to whom you are trying to market your house.

Is it an older neighborhood and the comparable properties near it haven't been kept up, or have but haven't been updated? Or is it an older neighborhood that has become a hot area due to location and is having a resurgence of young, professional people looking to buy and re-do to their upscale desires?

Those things matter.

Older neighborhood where every dollar is only spent on the necessities and not the wish list stuff? Go with a nice laminate, oak cabinets, and scrape the ceiling. An older neighborhood that is becoming the "in" area for the up an coming, who are less concerned about space and more concerned about location and quality? Granite or quartz, maple, and scrape the ceiling.

I hate popcorn. Hate it. We had it when I was growing up... in the 70s. Our first house had it. We had a small leak (water BLEW in thru an attic fan during a hurricane related storm- we took out the fan and treated the tiny water damage and that was that), but once that was fixed, we had to deal with the ring on the ceiling. It wasn't stained... but you could see the outline was a different color. You can't just paint that stuff. Ugh.. And it's dated and ugly, to boot.

But "flipping" it versus trying to sell it quickly need to be treated differently. Flipping implies that you are renovating to make money. You're fixing it up to recoup every dollar and then some. Selling it quickly just means you need to find buyers interested who can afford it. It's all about who you are marketing to.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

All of this really depends on who your marketing the house to. Is it a "first home" type house? A high end house? What's the rest of the neighborhood like? What are the other homes in your price range like? The answers to your questions are different depending on the answers to my questions. In a starter home laminate and oak are fine. In a $1.2mil home, absolutely not.

Maple is my preference, too, but if you're going with a very dark stain, the graining of the oak can be very beautiful. Imagine flat panel cabinetry in a dark stained oak with lighter quartz countertops, stainless appliances and drawer pulls, chrome fixtures, beautiful contemporary pendants over the island and a gorgeous glass tile backsplash. Clean lines and uncluttered surfaces. Could be classy and stunning. In this imaginary kitchen, popcorn ceilings and a laminate countertop would be...well, not a good match.

Which brings us to countertops. If you can afford quartz, go for it. I have quartz in my kitchen and it is a workhorse. For me, kitchen countertops are about function. Laminate can scratch, stain, get burns, etc. With all the options out there, laminate would be my last choice these days. But if $$ is an issue, quartz might be too expensive.

If you're simply upgrading the look of the place just to sell it and you don't really care how anything functions because you won't be living in it, laminate would be fine, oak would be fine. I'd still get rid of the popcorn ceiling, though. Just make sure you understand your market and your competition before making the upgrades.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I would be totally turned off by a popcorn ceiling. I'd know I would have to hire someone to remove it. (I have a friend who removed it herself and it sounds like a horrendous job ... no way I'd do it.)

We have oak and I'd love to replace it with something more modern. However, my parents simply added modern knobs to their own simple oak cabinets and then did a nice quartz countertop and it looked great. The wood isn't a dealbreaker for me, but the styling of the wood would be for me. If it's too country or ornate, I'd know I'd have to replace it and it would just be $$$ in my mind.

As far as countertops, DON'T do laminate. I don't know anyone who wants that. I had it in my apt. days and hated it. Quartz is the way to go.

At the same time, consider what's the norm in your neighborhood. Do the comps have upgrades or do they have oak cabinets with laminate? You don't want to overdo it for the neighborhood. However, an upgrade or two can make your home stand out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Is this a flip or a re-sale?

If it's a flip, people will look and see what you bought it for and pay attention to the details in what you are asking for it.

I'm NOT a bumpy ceiling kinda girl. So if I were to walk into your home, I would definitely take points off for bumpy/lumpy ceiling.

I think laminate is cheap. I know there are people who have it and love it, I don't. Our home has granite. We've been here almost 2 years. it was a very neutral granite and I liked it. Tyler wanted black. I said no. I cook. You don't. I won. LOL!

I LOVE white! And yes, it shows every piece of dirt and if you cook with a lot of oil, you need to wipe them down after every use or they get a dingy yellow to them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Sounds like you're wanting to sell it quickly and are less focused in getting a higher price. The better some upgrades are the higher you can price the house. Talk with your realtor to know what to do to meet your goal.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Here is the rub, people want to move in ready houses, unless they are super handy, but then you are looking at a lower cost. You have to decide how much $ or time is worth it to you. If your cabinets are in good condition, then I would suggest getting them painted by a professional. Don't do it yourself. I say this from experience! It looked great but took a solid week (everyday) to sand, prime, paint. The #1 kitchens are still white cabinets. I would get rid of the popcorn, it will just date the house. I would upgrade to the quartz if you have the budget and if you think you will get out of it what you put in. If not then there is nothing wrong with laminate. I would also suggest touring houses that are comparable to yours and see what is out in the marketplace. Don't overdue it, because at most you will only recoup around 60-70% of what you spend.
Just think if the house doesn't sell then you are stuck with whatever you decide!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

You should really talk to a realtor before doing all this work. They will know your market best and can help you decide what changes/upgrades to make. They can give you the value of your home in its current condition and then the value with remodeling and upgrades.

The realtor will know what the other homes in the area have as far as counter tops and types of wood cabinets, they can also see which homes sold the fastest and what materials those homes had. You don't want to try and sell the most expensive home in the neighborhood, they sit the longest on the market and end up dropping in price then the seller loses money.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

It is hard to anticipate what people are looking for. I would just keep everything neutral and spend middle of the road. I watch House Hunters every night and most people want granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, wood floors and no popcorn! But since they ALL want the same thing, I don't think it is very original. The absence of any of these is not a deal breaker for me. I like a house that is clean, ready to move into and has personality. I have popcorn ceilings, doesn't bother me. I have removed it from my bathroom as it was flaking off, so it can be done. It is messy and dusty, but not hard. My house was built in early 80's so we do projects one at a time as everything was original when we purchased 9 years ago. I have painted my cabinets white and we do have granite in the kitchen.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, popcorn ceiling would be a turn off for me. It would make me wonder why it's there.
It's not that much work--or you could hire someone to do it.

Guessing if your realtor is suggesting it, it's to help sell quickly.

As for the kitchen be more concerned that there are a lot of them and that they're spotless. Not so much the actual wood.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I had to look to see if we have popcorn ceilings or not. We do so obviously it isn't something that I have paid attention to. I do remember that when we finished our basement they suggested texturized ceilings and not popcorn ceiling. Our ceilings downstairs have a flat texturizing to them that gives them more depth but they are much easier to paint than popcorn.

I personally don't care for dark colored cabinets in a kitchen because I always associate kitchens with being bright and sunny. I also cringe if the color of the cabinets doesn't match or compliment the color of the wood floors. To be honest, the size of the cabinets and the amount of cabinet space and the overall condition of the cabinets is more of a deal breaker for me. If it came down to choosing between two identical kitchens except for cabinet color I would go with the one that is lighter colored.

Same with counter tops. If they are in good condition and not overly dated or a really odd color I don't think it would matter to me. But, I'm not that into interior decorating and having the best of everything.

We are house hunting and we are having such a hard time finding anything in our price range that we probably won't be as picky about little things like ceilings, counter tops, and color of cabinets. For me, good flooring is a bigger deal for me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Isn't the purpose of remodeling to have an updated look. Your new kitchen will look dated if you put in oak cabinets and laminate. It would not be a deal breaker for me but I would take $ of the the price I offered knowing I would have to remodel again anyway.

Just hire someone to scrape the ceiling.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yes, Oak cabinets would be a deal breaker for me. As would white. I like maple. Popcorn ceils are a deal breaker and we have walked away from them. I love smooth ceilings but they are not "in fashion" here in Houston. Some type of ceiling swirl is. We talked about smoothing the ceilings and the realtor told us that would not be a good idea. So, we didn't.

As for laminent, why? If your area is a granite area, laminent isn't going to help see.

We are remodeling our kitchen right now. Cherry cabinets, high end stainless steel appliances, stone countertops and tile. BUT that is what is required in our area. I'm not looking to sell any time soon BUT if I have to, my house will sell very quickly. The biggest bang for your buck is updating kitchens and bathrooms.



answers from St. Louis on

Instead of remodeling, I would offer cash to update/remodel the kitchen with the sell of the house. That way you do not have to do the work and guess what people will like!



answers from Chicago on

I would not like the popcorn ceiling. We would wonder what is under there. Sometimes that texture is used to hide cracks and water damage As for counters and such, we have nice but inexpensive corian counters. I would love quartz but have heard it is a big maintenance. If I was fixing up to sell, I would go with just good but less expensive. Unless someone is super picky, if the cabinets are in really good shape and look great and not out of date, then it wouldn't be a huge deal..



answers from Oklahoma City on

I'd clean them. Many people see them and simply won't go further. They won't redo them and won't but a house that has them.



answers from Seattle on

I will only speak to popcorn ceilings and kitchen cabinets - I am one of the few people that HATES any kind of stone countertops... but they are in fashion right now, so whatever.

Scraping the popcorn ceiling will make your house more attractive to buyers. I say this even though we did buy a house with popcorn ceilings, so it obviously wasn't a dealbreaker for us (we also got our house for a very good price... so we knew there was going to be a lot of cosmetic work necessary).
However, we are in the process of removing them and scraping the ceilings is NOT FUN. We will never buy a house with popcorn ceilings ever again (unless there is an allowance for their professional removal built into the contract).
As for the removal process: it is a PAIN! You really should get them tested for asbestos before you start so you can take proper precautions and secure proper disposal of the stuff. But even if you don't have asbestos in the popcorn it is still a pain. After you scrape them you will have to repair all of the damage to the drywall from the scraping (which is unavoidable), then paint.
Most people who remove popcorn ceilings will either take down the drywall and just redo the entire ceiling (especially if the popcorn was painted and cannot be scraped) or they will retexture the ceiling with a less outdated texture - simply because it is really hard to make it look nice once it is scraped. Adding crown molding may help distract from little imperfections left over from scraping as well.

As for the cabinets - I don't even know what kind of wood ours are and I could not care less. Some people may care - I think for most people as long as they look clean and modern you can go with anything. A nice look can easily be achieved with proper lighting and nicer hardware.


answers from Grand Forks on

I prefer maple to oak because there is less wood grain. I personally like laminate counter tops just fine. Popcorn ceiling in the kitchen would have to go.



answers from Dallas on

If it were me the popcorn ceilings are a deal breaker. The cabinets - not so much. I would just want to make sure they were wood and not a laminate. I am very ok with laminate counter tops. Easy to clean and durable. Just for what it's worth - if you can at all - hire out the scraping of your ceilings. We did it in a previous house and it is a pain. That stuff gets EVERYWHERE. Even with drop clothes. You also have to make sure your air conditioner / furnace is off. If the popcorn stuff gets in your system you have to have it cleaned. And I stayed with my mom & dad for a couple of days since I had an infant at the time my husband was doing this.



answers from Hartford on

Popcorn ceilings need to go, I hate paiting ours, they are a pain and they are only in a small area. We will removed them with our next renovation in the area of where they are. People like what they like for counter tops, i would go with a neutral cabinet and put in laminate which is very durable. My parents have granite looking laminate and truthfully from far away you cannot tell the difference.



answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't scrape the popcorn, I would hire it out and yes it is a deal breaker for me.

As for your other questions, it's really hard to tell you my suggestions. What is the neighborhood like? I'm casually house hunting right now and my expectations are high end cabinetry (not oak), high end natural stone countertops (not laminate).

If your flipping in a lower end area, then oak & laminate would be sufficient. Your realtor should be able to tell you what is the norm for the area so you don't upgrade too much. You may just want to calculate how much the remodel will cost you and just price the house lower to have a quick sell.



answers from Minneapolis on

Are you trying to sell to get out or sell to make money?

If you are selling to get out I would lower the price on the house with no remodel and let the new owner make the changes they want. Adding a fresh coat of paint and staging the house with a clean clutter free appearance with a lower price will move the house faster than putting in lower quality new cabinets and counter tops. If I went in a house that was being marketed with an "updated kitchen" and saw laminate and oak I would walk right out.

On the other hand if you are trying to make money go for quality and market demand. If stone is popular in your area then put it in, scrape the popcorn and don't put in oak cabinets.

Good luck with your decision and sale!



answers from Dallas on

From what I've heard from the realtor- investing in a kitchen remodel can help you get your house sold because so many people are looking for turn key operations and don't want to have to spend time remodeling. I would not like popcorn ceilings and it also ages the house. If i had to do a major kitchen remodel i would get a big price reduction not just a remodel allowance. Good luck!

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