To remain competitive in today’s housing market, homeowners often seek ways to update or upgrade their houses to make them stand out in the mix. When was the last time you gave your basement area some thought? Let’s take a look at how remodeling your basement can add value when it comes time to sell.
Should I finish my basement?
If you have an unfinished basement, you have an area in your home with enormous potential. Whether or not you choose to finish your basement area is likely dependent upon multiple factors, such as your budget, the potential added value, and your local housing market.
If your budget allows, and you know you’ll be living in your home for a few more years, move forward with finishing your basement. However, if you expect to move soon, consult with a local real estate agent before committing to a basement remodel. A trusted agent will tell you whether a finished basement adds value in your market, or if your chances of recouping the investment are slim to none. In most markets, you can expect an average 70 percent return on your investment. If square footage is at a premium in your area, finishing your basement is an excellent way to add livable square footage.
Finished Basement Basics
Literary buffs will recall Hemingway’s award-winning short story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” which offers a poignant message in its simplicity. One of the most basic human needs is to have a clean, well-lighted space to call home. Use this as a rule of thumb when tackling a basement remodel and you can’t go wrong.
Make the most of your basement ceilings, ensuring that there is space for people to easily stand up and move around (read: try to have ceilings no lower than eight feet). Lighting should be a priority, especially if your basement area is below ground without a walk-out. Ditch the fluorescent utility light fixtures and consider installing recessed or track lighting to thoroughly illuminate the area. And finally, make sure your basement is dry. Seal any cracks, see to the foundation, add drainage — do whatever you need to make sure your finished basement is dry, or your work will have been all for naught.
Prospective home buyers want to see potential when they walk into a home. While a tiki bar or home theater may be your ideal use of the finished basement area, buyers won’t necessarily feel the same. Try to avoid creating an extremely personalized space if you want your basement remodel to add to your home’s resale value.
If you’re moving ahead with finishing your basement, make sure you give it good bones so that future buyers can see potential in the area. If you won’t be using the area for very long, consider just framing out the area and hanging drywall, adding trim, and laying down tile or carpet. Keep colors neutral so that potential buyers can envision multiple uses for the area.
Basement storage or something else?
Creating a clean dry space — with no frills — will appeal to many potential buyers, especially those coming from apartment living. Finishing your basement area — sealing, insulating, installing drywall, drop ceiling, and carpeting — can have the added appeal of fee-free storage for many buyers. You don’t necessarily need to create a space ready to decorate, as many homebuyers may wish to convert the area into in-law quarters, a game room, or another bedroom.
If you have a roomy garage, you may wish to emphasize the storage potential of that area, rather than your basement. In this case, you’ll likely want to focus your attention on some DIY garage updates, like installing shelving or other types of organization systems and go full speed ahead on creating a livable, finished basement space.
Whether you’re finishing your basement or simply refreshing it in advance of selling, you can’t go wrong if you stay simple. Drywall, trim, carpeting or tile, neutral colors and lots of lighting are the basics you need to make your basement area shine when your home is on the market — leave it to the buyer customize the space and make it their own.
Article contributed by Homelight