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Trying to Sell Your Home? Tips for Preparing Your Home for the Market #5: The Basement

by: Sue Adler
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If your home has a basement, it would be a huge mistake for you to overlook preparing it for the market. Many people think that buyers only look at the “living space,” but this is completely untrue. In fact, by making a few simple changes and additions to your basement, you can potentially increase the value of your home by quite a bit. Whereas the basement was once a place used primarily for storage, many home buyers are looking for a basement that serves as a functional part of the home. Therefore, you should try putting these simple tips to work in order to get your basement ready for the market.

Make Sure the Structure is Sound

No matter how the potential buyer plans to use the basement, he will certainly want to feel confident that it is structurally sound. After all, the basement offers access to the home’s foundation as well as the underside of the floor. In many homes, the basement also serves as the storage area for many of the home’s important systems, pipes and electrical work. For all of these reasons, potential buyers will be most interested in a basement that is easy to access and to walk through. Even more importantly, buyers will want to feel confident that there is no moisture in the basement and no cracks in the foundation.

Obviously, if there are any structural problems with the home that you know about, you will need to address these issues before you put the home on the market. In some cases, however, moisture in the basement can be caused by faulty window seals, condensation or other issues that are not related to a cracked foundation. Nonetheless, if there are any signs of moisture, most buyers will instantly attribute it to structural problems. Therefore, you need to be sure to correct the problem while also removing all signs of moisture or moisture damage. Any signs of a moisture problem, whether it has been corrected or not, will cast doubt in the buyer’s mind.

Create a Livable Space

Most home buyers are interested in basements that offer additional living space. Whether the basement is used for an additional bedroom, an office, a game room, an entertainment area or any other conceivable purpose, potential buyers want to see that the basement can be used for something more than a place to collect stored items, cobwebs and insects.

While you do not have to go all-out in creating an entirely new living space in the basement, simple steps such as adding carpet or tile to the floor and paneling to the walls will make the basement more inviting and attractive to potential buyers. Ideas as easy as painting the floor – there are great epoxy paints out there – help to spruce up and change the entire look of the room.  For those artistic or adventurous types, you may even want to paint a design or pattern.  Lighting is another quick and easy fix.  We all prefer natural light, but there are many natural fluorescent options on the market today. One last thing to think about….many laundry facilities are located in the basement.  Think about how many hours a week we spend doing laundry. You wouldn’t dread going into a basement to do laundry in a space that is designed to be more functional, cheerful and inviting. Continue the basement’s decorating theme into the laundry room area.  Also consider appliances that conserve energy and time. Good lighting and a clean sink area are an additional plus.

Depending upon where the home is located and the types of features found in other homes in the neighborhood, it might also be a good idea to create a bar, game room or other entertainment area in the basement. If this is a common feature found in the neighborhood, upgrading your home to reflect the same feature will help you get it sold more quickly.

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