Home Buying in 08061>Question Details

Raymond, Home Buyer in

My wife and I are currently shopping for a home, and our realtor told us that a basement adds value to a home.

Asked by Raymond, Tue Sep 9, 2008

But what about on homes that are listed as a split level, where the basement is just the lower level and not below ground? Is this type of home more valuable than a two-story colonial with no basement? Both homes have two levels so what's the difference?

Help the community by answering this question:


Where do you live? There's a lot of good advice here but the best was to say that the comps tell you everything. In NC, a split level is a lot like a stationwagon, functional for a lot of reasons but just not cool anymore and no one wants it. Your area may be different so let the comps decide. If your agent can't show you any sold comps in the last 6 months for split-levels, go back a year. None then and you should probably check out the Colonial.
Web Reference: http://www.lambrealtors.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
Hi Raymond, I think the lack of a basement in a style that could have one, like a Colonial or Ranch detracts from value. In an area of the country where basements are expected/common, a Colonial on slab may be viewed less attractively than a split level. Generally Colonials are the most popular style, but of course it all depends on taste and also what is prevalent in the community of choice. Some areas were built up at a time when splits, bi-levels or ranches were especially popular - if you are targeting an area like that, then the homes people expect to find there are - well - expected.

For sure, the choice of style is a matter of taste, but your agent is guiding you well based on my experience. In this part of the country (NE), the absence of a basement is a tough sell. I marketed a beautiful home with a crawl space and this was our biggest obstacle and in the end, affected the price and the time to sell.

Jeannie Feenick
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 24, 2008
Raymond - Sure a basement may add some value, but in the end YOU have to live there, so just make it work for you. This post is old. I hope your home search has been (was) great.
Web Reference: http://www.stevekappre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 23, 2008
A basement will add square footage to the total living area of a home. If finished it is a nice feature. If not finished it is still there avail as additional sq footage.
So the anwser to whether a basement adds value yes! if it is dry and mold free!
A split level home has more than 2 level living areas.
From the front door... A lower level 2 or 3 steps down with a family room and maybe a bedroom and bath this is not a basement, not below grade, maybe partially below grade....
AND a living area just above grade level 2 or 3 steps up with kitchen living room dining...
AND usually another higher level 3-5 steps up again with additional bedrooms and bath.

Many splits also have a basement under the upper grade levels, usually entered from the lower grade level living area A split is exactly as it sounds split levels of living. Some modern styles have really designed some nice planning. Older styles provide larger feels to a traditional colonial because of the stairs and the choppy floor plan.

Basements will usually add value to any home, any style, as long as it is usuable space whether now or the future. If it leaks or has lots of mositure it is difficult for it to become useful, not even as storage. Every house will be different because of it's characteristics. You will almost always sense mositure in a home. Look around see if there is a dehumidfier around. Even if it's unplugged it may give you a question to ask why they have it? Also important is to make sure a finished basement has a vapor barrier behind any sheet rock. A home inspection should indicate this, be alert some home inspection will not be able to discover the vapro barrier because of the finished walls and their inability to see behind the finished walls. Vapor barriers will greatly reduce mositure and mold.

Use you best judgements. Feel free to contact me anytime at your convenience with any questions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 21, 2008
In the Chicagoland area, in order for us to say a split level has a basement, it really needs to have a basement...which is called a "sub basement" (it's below grade) on that style of house. And yes, atleast here that sub basement would add value to the home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 21, 2008
If the basement is finished on the 2 story home it will add value, even if its not fininshed its will add some value. The split level is not really a basement. It depends of which home best fits your needs. The location will also have a effect on the value of the home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 21, 2008
As William said, split levels are not as popular as they were. The question here is really what type of home do you prefer and works best for your family.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 10, 2008
If a basement is unfinished, then it would not add as much value as finished square footage. A basement would need to be finished to the same level as the rest of the home (i.e. moldings, baseboards, carpet, finished drywall, paint, etc.) to be as valuable per square foot as the rest of the home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
Raymond: What is value? If you are talking about price, your agent should be able to give you comps for each style that he or she brings to your attention. That will tell you how each type is seen in the market. Various versions of splits exist. Some are: Front to back, side to side, three level, five level (with basement under each side) and partial split, where a portion has two floors stacked with stairs and a portion at a half level.

Therefore, you can get almost anything you like with a split, if you look hard enough. Some have garages; others have the garage converted into another room. The problem with ANY type except the two story colonial is that they are all out of favor. You still see a few very large capes built but usually they have extensive dormers and, inside are more like the two story colonial. Not current in style equals older models not selling as well or appreciating as fast.

Basements: If you need extra space or think you will, a basement can be an overflow space. On older houses be sure that there is adequate headroom for a ceiling, if you intend to finish the space. If you want or need space for power tools, lower headroom is ok, unless you are very tall yourself. Basements also need access and an outside entry with a Bilco door is almost a must. Built on the side of a hill, you can even find a basement with ground level access on one side. All rooms below grade suffer from smaller windows and less light, even the Bi-levels. If they only have the small basement size windows, fire codes will no longer allow finishing them into living space. The fire department wants to get in with a Scott Pack if there's trouble.

The last thing to look for in below grade rooms, finished or not, is moisture, as in up to your knees when it rains moisture. They are always damp and in the winter, cold. Bi-levels often have bedrooms for the kids down in the depths. Parents exiling their kids to them have been known to end up as fodder for a Stephen King novel. Some can be reasonably dry but a cleaver eye for detail should let you figure it out. Cardboard cartons that have been on the floor for years and still show no watermarks, for example. Honest, I once showed an old house that had stepping stones in the basement. It was permanently flooded! One I listed and sold had two sump pumps that would have been the envy of most municipal water systems; they kept the place dry but the roar when they ran was industrial. I've shown houses from North of Flemington in Hunterdon to Moorestown and in Bucks County, PA and there is no area that has only good ones, so be selective.

Lots of Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
That is an interesting question because Realtors are not consistent in whether to list basement as a feature in the MLS or not with a split level. Some will list it as a finished basement (the lower level usually is finished). Splits can be side to side or front to back. The lower level usually has a back door that goes out to the back yard at grade level. Compare a 2 story colonial that has 3 bedrooms upstairs (along with at least 1 full bath), a living room dining room and kitchen down, and a full basement (that is usable) with a 2 story colonial without a basement and the basement definitely adds value.

When you walk into a split you are usually on the floor with the kitchen, living room and maybe a dining room. Go up a half flight of stairs and you are at the 3 bedrooms and at least 1 full bath. If you go down a half flight of stairs you usually go to a family room (unless the guy in the house turned it into a bar) and maybe a laundry room and a half bath. Not many splits have been built in the last 25 years. The used to be much more popular. There are thousands in the area that are 30-40 years old. There isn't any 'with' and 'without' basement in a split.

A basement adds value to a colonial. You can't really compare a split and a colonial in that way unless you are looking at square footage. Apples and Oranges.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
Hi Raymond, a basement does add value to the home. With a split or bilevel home, the basement or below grade level is part of the living space. A home with no basement - be it a ranch or colonial - is a tough sell. In some parts of the country it is common, but not here in New Jersey. Not long ago I marketed a beautiful home that had only a partial crawl space - some buyers would not consider the home as a result.

You pose an interesting question regarding relative value of a split level home to a colonial on slab (ie no basement)...that is a tough one because as the prior responder commented a split level has appeal to some but not all. Colonials are the most popular style home, but the absence of a basement is a real detraction.

Bottom line is this - it depends on your preference and also the style that is common within the community of choice. Some communities developed during the bilevel/split days and so there are many homes of that style and for people drawn to the community, the common style will be more accepted along with the turf.

But in a flat out contest between splits/bilevels and colonials, colonials win. In a contest of a home with a basement or one without, the one with a basement carries the day.

Good luck to you. Incidentally, it is a great time to buy - find a home you like and go for it!

Jeannie Feenick
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
yes and no, value is in the eye of the beholder. Some people love splits and others hate them. The advantage of a split is the rooms are usually mostly above grade and have full windows and often walk out sin the rear. The basement of a colonial good be great for storage but a finsihed room could not have any windows or the very little ones. In addition the basement in a colonial coul have a short ceiling where you would have to duck. Splits are generally more affordable then colonials. And althoiugh the rooms in a split will be more livable you will lose the basement storage area. So the key is which style of living is more appealing to you. Goo dluck with your purchase Raymond
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
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