Research suggests that it takes on average just over two months to sell a home, from the time it goes on the market until closing. However, given that some properties sell much quicker than that, others will naturally take a lot longer. It’s perhaps best to prepare yourself for the long haul if you want to sell your home, but there’s plenty you can do to speed the process up.
“Your Home’s Foundation is its core” – Troy Beasley; Ace Home Inspection
There’s no shortage of advice available on how to price your home for a quick sale, and how to stage and declutter it to turn viewers into buyers more efficiently. However, one aspect of preparing your home for sale gets much less publicity: how will the state of your basement affect your chances of attracting a buyer? Before putting your home on the market, run your eye over your basement from a buyers’s perspective and see if anything can be improved.
Here’s what to look for.
If your furnace or boiler is in your basement, it may have passed under your radar when preparing your home for viewing. Does your heating system look clean and well maintained? Are there any strange, strong odors or visible leaks? Does it sound smooth and efficient when operating? Older installations especially can benefit from a service before marketing your home, just to provide a spruce-up if nothing else. A wheezing, clanking, old monster won’t fill a potential buyer with confidence. Even better, off a home warranty that will cover the mechanicals for a new homebuyer to off-set any concerns.
The same considerations apply to your basement’s electric panel or distribution board. Electrical faults are dangerous and expensive to fix, so make sure that your panel’s appearance gives no cause for concern. It should be clean, neat, and look well-cared for so that it’s not added to a viewer’s mental list of issues that may need attention.
You can artfully conceal the pipework in your kitchen and bathroom, or use it as a feature of the decor. However, no matter conspicuous or hidden the pipes are, it’s unlikely that you’ve allowed them to rust or fall into disrepair when they’re in a much-used room. That’s not necessarily so in a basement, where they can easily be out of sight and out of mind. Check the pipes are showing no signs of corrosion or leaks, and that there’s no evidence of previous bursts left behind on the walls or floors.
From cock-roaches to rats, all sorts of unwelcome wildlife can make a happy home in your basement and cause plenty of damage before being discovered. You should not only make sure your basement is free of pests before allowing any viewer to enter it, but also remove any signs of previous infestations. It may be a prudent idea to put out of sight any poisons, baits, or traps, as well.
Structural Issues and Dampness
Dampness can be a problem in any underground space, and while a bone-dry atmosphere is only realistic in fully converted basements, any clear signs of dripping, pooling, or even running water need to be dealt with urgently. Also, make sure there are no visible stains left over from previous moisture problems.
Troy Beasley from Ace Home Inspections states, “Your home’s foundation is its core – and cracks or crumbling can seriously compromise its structural stability.” If this is your basement, it is better to contact a professional basement contractor before you put your home on the market to assess the structural condition of the basement walls and drain tile system.
Odors and Mold
If your basement has damp problems, it’s almost inevitable that mold and unpleasant odors will be following close behind. While a certain mustiness is reasonable in any basement, it shouldn’t be actively unpleasant to breathe. This is not only a potential sign of a more serious problem, but it will be a serious discouragement to any prospective buyer who may wish to make use of the space in the future. A general rule of thumb is to have a dehumidifier running at all times to help eliminate unpleasant smells and remove moisture from the air.
You wouldn’t show a viewer around a kitchen that was coated in dust and shrouded in cobwebs, so why should your basement be any different? There’s no need to transform it into a palace, but any signs of neglect or poor cleanliness will reflect poorly on your upkeep of the property as a whole.
If you’re serious about selling your home, you’ve probably put a lot of time and thought into staging the interior, tidying the outside, and attending to minor repairs. It would be a terrible shame to waste all that effort by leading your viewers down into a dark, dank basement that reeks of neglect. A savvy home buyer will always check the condition of a basement, so ensure this part of your property is fully prepared for inspection.