In 1973 a film entitled “Don’t Look in the Basement” was released. It was originally entitled “The Forgotten” in reference to the ignored patients of an insane asylum, but someone thought it would attract more movie goers with a new title. After all, basements can be creepy.
Dark, dank and dirty is what usually comes to mind, never mind those hidden corners where something just might pop out!
Well, perhaps “The Forgotten” was an appropriate name after all, since basements are one of those areas in a home that is often overlooked when staging a home for sale.
Basements, whether finished or unfinished, add valuable square footage to the house.
Basements should receive as much attention as the rest of the house when it comes to the Must Do’s of staging:
Begin by decluttering. Discard, sell or donate any items you haven’t used in years. Basements tend to collect items we think we might use someday, such as old faucets, old appliances (left), toys, luggage pieces, etc. So ask yourself “will I ever really use this?”
Consider renting a storage space for items that you are keeping but won’t use or need in the next 6 months, especially if you are considering renting storage for unneeded furniture and items in the rest of the house. It may be worth it.
At the very least, buy moving boxes and begin packing. Or purchase plastic storage bins with covers as you can probably use them for storage in your new home. Stack the boxes or bins neatly, or even better, purchase metal shelving to stack them on.
Is that a ping pong table underneath all that stuff?
Time to declutter.
The basement should be cleaned thoroughly. You want to remove the “yuk factor” when buyers view the space. Sweep and mop the floor, or vacuum the carpeting. Make sure you remove cobwebs and dead bugs from corners and along the ceiling.
Clean the windows and remove excess vegetation from outside the windows to let in as much light as possible. Open the curtains, if any.
Wipe down exercise equipment, ping pong table, and anything that has collected dust.
Install extra lighting, even if it’s a bare bulb and pullchord, in dark corners or areas.
Paint the floors of an unfinished basement (check with your paint store for the best product). It makes the room brighter and cleaner in appearance. And it doesn’t have to be the typical gray.
A fresh coat of paint on sheetrocked walls also goes a long way in making the space appear clean and as valuable as the upstairs space.
If your basement doesn’t have walls separating each room, it’s important to designate areas, each with a purpose. For example if you have excercise equipment or children’s toys scattered about, designate an area for each so that it appears that the basement has an excercise “room” and a children’s “playroom”.
In the photo below left, the hockey table is mixed in with exercise equipment (pilates machine and bike). The hockey table should be grouped with the foos ball table which was in another area of the basement. In the photo below right, the bicycles are mixed in with a couch, rug and two chairs (out of photo). The bikes should be removed and this area should be set up as a den or living space.
If the washing machine and dryer are in the basement, set up this area as a laundry “room”. Make sure this area is sparkling clean, since no buyer wants to do laundry in a dirty area. Set up an ironing board and iron and/or a table to fold clothes. Store laundry supplies neatly on shelves or in a cabinet.
The same goes for other areas in a basement: home office, media room, workspace, arts and crafts space. Make sure each area is clearly designated.
Buyers expect the basement to be dark and dirty. Why not surprise them with a clean, bright, organized and neat space? The buyers will also perceive that you are the type of homeowner that takes care of things and doesn’t neglect the ongoing maintenance of the house.