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Should You Finish Your Basement Before Selling a Home?

A lot of people buy homes with unfinished basements thinking they’ll just finish it when they’ve saved up a little money. But quite frequently, these projects are pushed off or forgotten—until it’s time to sell. When it comes time to sell, many homeowners find themselves wondering if they should finish their basement to sell for more.

Finishing your basement can mean creating a large space for entertaining or even an in-law suite, but is it worth doing right before you sell? In this post we’ll explore how much finishing your basement can add to your home’s value and which materials are best for the project.

Before we dive into the value that finishing your basement can add, let’s first go over why there are so many homes with unfinished basements in the US.

Why are basements left unfinished?

From issues with flooding to the mere fact that basements can be cold and uninviting, there are several reasons why a builder or a homeowner may leave a basement unfinished. The one that makes the most sense, however, is the fact that—at least in many areas across the US—space below ground does not count toward livable space, and therefore a listing’s square footage.

Although finishing your basement may not add to the legally livable space (and square footage) of your home, finishing your basement will still add to your home’s market value and appraisal value—ultimately, helping you sell for much more. Adding to your home’s value is great, but let’s look at how much value a finished basement adds and whether or not it’s worth doing right before you sell. Spoiler alert: it usually is.

How much value does finishing your basement add to your home?

The average square footage of a basement in the US is 1,000 square feet. While that square footage may not always add to your listing’s square footage, it will impact how home buyers and appraisers view your home. The best way to find out exactly how much finishing your basement will add to your re-sale value is to discuss the project with a licensed real estate agent who can show you the sale prices of comparable homes in your market both with and without finished basements.

More often than not, finishing your basement to sell does pay off—especially as more of the workforce embraces working from home and is looking for extra space in their home to convert into a home office and/or gym. Another trend we’re facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is more multigenerational homes. And another great use for a finished basement is a mother-in-law suite. Rather than just telling you how much a basement renovation can pay off, we’ll show you a couple examples of basement finishing projects that resulted in huge profits for the home sellers.

Project 1: Deferred Maintenance and Basement Finishing

Outside of some deferred maintenance and minor touch-ups, the only thing we did for this listing was finish the basement, including the main area and the basement bedroom. The cost of the entire home improvement project was $34,635, and it added $125,000 to the value. Of course, we did a few other things for this project, but the finished basement added a ton of value for these sellers—and the buyers. See the full project details here.

Project 2: Deep Cleaning, Repairs, and Basement and Attic Refinishing

We did a little more than just finish the basement and attic of this listing, but those were by and large the focus of this pre-listing project. Finishing the large basement and attic spaces would add a ton of value in any market, but specifically in today’s market, when buyers are looking for flex space, this was a winning move. The total cost of the project (including repairs, painting, and cleaning) was $33,838, and it raised the value of the home by $80,000—in just 6 weeks! See the full project details here.

These projects prove that you should definitely consider finishing your basement to sell for more, especially since Curbio can finish it now, help you sell for much more, and wait until closing to be paid. Like we said earlier, the best way to determine if finishing your basement before you sell is a good move is to discuss it with your REALTOR®. Assuming you decide to move forward, you might be wondering which materials are best. When you and your agent speak with your Curbio Home Improvement Consultant (HIC), he/she will help you determine the right choices for your specific home based on its location and the market, but below are some general guidelines and trends.

Which materials are best for finishing your basement to sell?

Should you go with luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or carpet? Should you add a bedroom to your basement? Which paint colors are best for basements? There are a lot of decisions to make when you refinish your basement. Curbio’s HICs are here to help when you’re ready to move forward, but in case you’re curious about what materials are common, we’ve got it covered.

Which flooring is best?

Carpet is a common choice for basements because it adds a little bit of a cozy feel to a part of the home that tends to feel cold—at least in most homes. LVT is another popular option, specifically because it’s waterproof and therefore, resistant to flooding. Which one is right for your listing depends on both your market and the probability of the basement flooding. For basements that may experience flooding, we’ll generally recommend LVT because it’s waterproof. We’ll also take a look at what’s popular in your market to ensure we’re aiding you with a quick and profitable home sale.

Should you add a bedroom to your basement before selling?

While most basement bedrooms won’t actually count as a bedroom for most listings (because they’re underground), a basement bedroom can add a lot of value to your home. Perfect for guests and in-laws who may want a little bit of privacy, basement bedrooms are extremely popular in the US. Of course, if the new homeowners prefer they can also use the space as an office, gym, or meditation room. With flex spaces—that can be used as any of the above and more—being so popular, it’s quite possible that adding a bedroom to your basement could be the right move. That said, if it reduced from the main living space too much, it could make your basement feel small. Your agent and Curbio HIC will guide you into making the right decision based on your home and its basement space.

What color should you paint your basement before you sell?

You want to choose a color that will make the space feel large and open and not turn off buyers. You also want to create a blank slate in which prospective home buyers can imagine living their own lives with their own belongings.

Just like for any part of the home, we recommend using neutral paint colors to attract more home buyers and sell faster.

Get started on pre-listing home improvements

You should consider finishing your basement for sale, but you shouldn’t necessarily stop there. With Curbio’s pay-at-closing model, you can take on any improvements that can add to your profit. On top of providing the financing you need, we’re also the general contractor on each Curbio project—meaning that manage and execute the entire project from proposal to punchlist. Furthermore, because of our tech-enabled, streamlined approach, we’re able to complete projects 65% faster than the average general contractor, which means you’ll get to the closing table faster. Finally, Curbio’d homes sell faster and for more, so not only will you make more money, but you’ll be able to move on a lot faster.

Have your REALTOR® submit a request for an estimate today to get started. Don’t have an agent? Contact us and we’ll help you find one from one of our partners.