When it comes to real estate, more square footage may seem like it would translate into a higher home value. It depends… In Massachusetts, bank appraisers generally look at finished basement space a little differently when calculating a home’s overall square footage. It’s not considered to be valued the same as above ground space. However, that isn’t to say that a finished basement is a waste of an investment. How you finish and make use of the space matters. As with any upgrade or improvement, whether you will recoup your investment depends on the value it adds. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Hiring a licensed, qualified contractor rather than trying to tackle a do-it-yourself makeover can be the difference between adding value and making your home less appealing to a potential buyer. Cheap materials or amateur design elements can be a turn-off for a buyer.
- Finishing a basement professionally can also ensure that the proper permits are taken into consideration and electrical and plumbing work is up to code. By using the services of a professional contractor or builder, not only are you more likely to see quality workmanship, you are less likely to run into inspection problems when selling the property.
- Adding a room that caters to a specific interest or hobby (for example, a dark room or specialty sports area) can actually make a home less attractive to the average buyer. If a potential buyer is wondering, “What would I do withthis space?” then the investment is unlikely to pay off. The appeal of some added features is subjective; while one buyer might be thrilled with the inclusion of a wet bar, another might see it as a waste of space.
- The structure of your basement can factor into whether it will add value to your home. Low ceiling height or a lack of proper egress can make a difference in whether a buyer views the area as actual living space. Accessibility is a consideration. If the basement can only be reached by a narrow set of rickety stairs, a potential buyer will be less likely to see it as viable living space. And, a walk-out basement is more likely to be considered more valuable than a basement that is entirely underground.
- The type of finishing work you invest in can also affect the value of a finished basement. Simply laying carpet and painting concrete walls won’t add as much value as framing in rooms, adding heat, a bathroom or other features that add benefits to the home as a whole.
- “Comps” or comparable recent sales in your neighborhood can give you an idea of whether your home stacks up against others in the area. If most recently-sold homes feature a finished basement, it might be worth the investment to see a comparable return when you sell.
If you aren’t sure whether finishing your basement will pay you back when you sell, ask the advice of a real estate agent who is well versed in the market in your community. He or she will be able to give you an idea of what local buyers are looking for and whether you are likely to get any sort of return on your investment.
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