Aside from the time spent on the new book here (Click) and working with several FSBO Independent Homesellers, we’ve been working on a Reasonable Realtor series on a less expensive kitchen remodel that can help you live with your kitchen or sell your kitchen.  This week we are looking at NOT replacing your cabinets.

While redesigning a kitchen is a fun way to create change, kitchen cabinet refacing is a more affordable alternative to replacing those worn cabinets.  Complete kitchen redesigns can cost tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention they can take months to finish.  Though the kitchen is the most important room in the home to many, there are less expensive and quicker ways to spruce up the room and add to a homes’ resale value.  One of these ways is through kitchen cabinet refacing.


Refacing cabinets and renovating the kitchen costs a fraction of remodeling and replacing, and costs could be reduced even further if the homeowners do much of the work themselves.  However, how do you know if it is time to consider kitchen cabinet refacing?  If the cabinet drawers or door front are faded or overly worn, or if the kitchen is beginning to look as if it belongs in a different era, it may be time to reface the cabinets.  Excess wear and tear may even make it difficult to properly open and close drawers and cabinet doors.  Whether you are looking to sell your home and want to add to its value, or if you just want to enjoy the look of an updated kitchen, considering kitchen cabinet refacing has its rewards.

Refacing of the cabinets is ideal when major changes are not warranted.  For instance, if a homeowner is satisfied with the layout and functionality of their kitchen, a full remodel is unnecessary.  During kitchen cabinet refacing, a thin coat of wood, veneer, or laminate is wrapped around the cabinet face.  Outdated and overly worn materials can be replaced and extras such as new countertops, pull out shelves, and new drawer slides can be added effortlessly.  Additional cabinet space can be added, and the entire style of the kitchen can be changed at about half the cost of a traditional kitchen remodel.

Life is an adventure!

Kitchen cabinet refacing can be adventurous for the homeowner, with so many styles, colors, and add-on features to choose from which to choose.  Doing an extensive refacing is best left to the professional, and often the entire process from design to installation can take little more than a week.  For those wishing to do the work themselves, a little more planning and time may be required.  The large-scale home improvement stores will offer the materials needed for the refacing, though the entire design and planning process will be left up to the individual homeowners.  Companies that specialize in kitchen cabinet refacing may need to be consulted along the way.

In addition to providing an all-new look to the kitchen, refacing the cabinets will also add to their durability and lifespan.  With the high costs of complete kitchen remodels, coupled with the hassle of having a kitchen torn apart for weeks if not months, it makes sense to consider the more affordable alternative.  Increase your home’s value and add to its charm by choosing kitchen cabinet refacing over a complete remodel.

Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor, Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970. Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at Lawnmowers Here.

Kitchen Counter-tops go “pop.”

Larry from Kentucky wrote in to Ask Dr. FSBO how to make his kitchen look a bit better without spending a ton of money.  After an initial period of surprise that Larry had wandered back towards the subject of this column, I decided to answer his question here.

Counter top resurfacing should be considered if you are contemplating a wholesale kitchen renovation or are simply looking for a potential means of sprucing up your food preparation area and making your kitchen “pop.”  Counter tops are one of the most visible aspects of any kitchen, along with under-cabinet lighting which we’ll tackle a little bit later.  Their color and texture immediately capture the attention of anyone entering the area.  As such, a change in counter-tops can serve to breathe new life into the entire area.  A rundown kitchen can look new again or a smaller room may be given the illusion of greater size simply by repairing or replacing worn counter tops.

Different skill-sets.

The nature of counter top resurfacing varies depending upon what one has in the beginning and what they are hoping to accomplish in the end.  For instance, removing an existing laminate counter top and replacing it with new material with a different look may require little more than stripping off the old laminate and carefully replacing it with new pieces.  This kind of counter top resurfacing tends to be relatively inexpensive and does not necessarily require expert skills.

Other counter top resurfacing techniques require more money, effort and talent.  For instance, one may decide to replace their existing laminate counter top with a tile top.  Ceramic tiles, of course, are far more expensive than replacement laminate.  Additionally, they require more care in installation and take much longer to cut and place than does a laminate replacement.  The results may be stunning, but the process can be quite time-consuming for an amateur.

In some cases, one may not be interested in actually replacing their counter tops.  Instead, they may be considering resurfacing as a way to repair and maintain an existing option.  Those with high-end granite counters or other exotic stone variations, for instance, may find it necessary to hire an expert in counter top resurfacing to repair nicks, scratches and other damage common to kitchen areas.  Those who have stainless steel counter areas will generally want to consult with a professional if they have experienced significant damage to their counter tops, as repair or restoration can be very difficult in these cases.

I’m a FSBO do-it-yourselfer getting ready to sell!

Resurfacing is a project that many “do-it-yourselfers” can manage without assistance, so long as the project is kept relatively simple.  However, those with designs on doing something a bit more complicated or who plan on using very expensive materials may want to hire a resurfacing professional to handle the job.  These experts know exactly what needs to be done in order to successfully resurface virtually any kind of counter top and can be well worth the money they cost.

Resurfacing is a great way to give an old kitchen a new look.  The change in appearance brought on by changing counter tops alone is drastic.  If done in conjunction with other renovations, you can take a big step toward a “new” kitchen by doing some counter top resurfacing.

Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor, Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970. Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at Quiet Lawnmowers Here.

Contributors Are Welcome

Answering some questions from this weekend, I need to say, “Yes, we do accept, and, in fact, encourage contributions to this column!” Send anything to me and I will look it over, and post it. If I have any questions, I’ll talk to you about them, but if it’s honest and consistent with our mission of saving people money while buying, selling, or generally owning real estate, we’ll use it. Unfortunately there is no payment at this point, but you will get credit, recognition, acclaim, and general “attaboys.”

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Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor, Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970. Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at Quiet Lawnmowers Here.

Flat Fee MLS for the Independent Homeseller

When selling their house, some people go with an agent and the MLS, and some people do it themselves without the MLS.  This last category has historically been called “FSBO, or For-Sale-By-Owner.”  I regard these people with more dignity than many, and I think of them as “Independent Homesellers,” and would like to introduce that term to the dialog at this time.  It may be a matter of semantics, but I thought the explanation to be important.  I am the champion of the Independent Homeseller, and this MLS connection is, of course, one of the subject of my books, but a question has prompted me to touch on it lightly here, too.

Can An Independent Have Access to the MLS?

The answer is “no.”  And the answer is “yes.”

Direct access to the Multiple Listing Service is available only to someone who is a state licensed real estate agent, AND a member of the local, state, and national Board of Realtors, AND a member of the actual MLS.  In other words, it is fairly exclusionary, which makes it even more valuable, but it’s FUNCTION is what determines its value in the first place.  Some feel that a house is not for sale unless it’s in the MLS where everybody can see it.

Historically, the MLS is one of the prime reasons a person would list their house with an agent to be sold.  Martin Properties, on the other hand, practices Graduated Services Real Estate, in which an Independent Homeseller can promote his or her house on the MLS, but still do much of the selling process work on their own, and save a lot of commission.  Just a word, here, it is a lot of work to sell your own house, but  doing that work yourself will save you a lot of money.

The process also is not always intuitive, so it is important to be associated with an agent who can provide supervision and advice as well as access to the MLS.  There are a few agents who have begun offer this flat-fee MLS service recently.  The important thing to do is to interview an agent and look at his system.  Your house is no place for on-the-job-training, and we have been here for thirty years. (See

Besides Flat Fee MLS, what ELSE will save me some money?

Our job here at the is to help you save money, and selling your own house, or HELPING to sell your own house will save you money!  In the month of March we will also be dealing with ways to make your kitchen “POP” to help you sell your house whether on your own or listed with a Realtor.  Specifically, we will be talking about “under cabinet lighting” and even ‘kitchen cabinet refinishing” in coming articles.

And never forget we go into much more depth about all of these subjects in my new book, The NEW REAL ESTATE, available on the upper right of this page.  Also, if you join our list and subscribe here, you will always hear if new money-saving tips in advance of anyone else.

Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor, Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970. Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at    Quiet Lawnmowers Here.

Ask Dr. FSBO

Larry from Kentucky wrote in to Ask Dr. FSBO how to install the Farmville Toolbar on Firefox.  After an initial period of surprise, I decided to answer his question here.

Larry, we’ve already addressed that issue here fairly extensively, and I don’t want to penalize and start to bore the readers who do pay careful attention.  I also understand there is a fine line between spamming and just asking questions we’ve already answered.

I would also suggest you go to the cover picture in the right-hand column, and click on it.  Then you will be transported electronically to a place where you can purchase my new book, The NEW REAL ESTATE, and have it sent straight to your door where you can spend as much extra time with it as you feel you might need.  Chapter TWO deals with the FLAT FEE MLS that a For-Sale-By-Owner might employ.  I think you will see an interesting parallel between that and what you are trying to accomplish.

What Does Flat-Fee MLS Have To Do With My Question?

I must remind you, Larry from Kentucky, that YOU are the one who chose this forum to ask your question, and we are simply trying to help.  Martin Properties, with Graduated Service Real Estate has helped hundreds of people so far.  Don Martin, the broker of Martin Properties, and author of The NEW REAL ESTATE, hopes to continue this help, even for people with whom he cannot sit down at the kitchen table.

Yes, I am the Reasonable Realtor, Don Martin, MARTIN PROPERTIES (615) 973-8970. Just make your comments here, or you can reach the Dean of Graduated Realtors at or “like” him at