First, I agree wholeheartedly with the comments about checking with your local building department and get all necessary permits...regardless of how you decide to finish the space. Are you planning to finish it to SELL the property...or to USE IT YOURSELF? If you plan to finish it for your own use for the next many months or years...but want to be informed as to FUTURE SELLING POTENTIAL, I would suggest a couple of things. First, given that you have 1350 square feet above grade, I'm assuming (hate that word!) that you have AT LEAST 3 bedrooms. If not, including a bedroom downstairs would make sense for resale (though there are limitations from a marketing perspective of a "below grade" bedroom. But when buyers do see the home, knowing they have at least three bedrooms is generally a plus.
Buyers generally like open space...that feeling of "volume" is very appealing. a basement with several rooms often feels very "chopped up"...even if the rooms are beautifully done. Basement space is different that main level space...the staircase takes up room, the furnace/water heater, etc, take up space, there are several supports that restrict the usability of some of the space...all of which need to be taken into account. If there is a possibilty of having a bath (at least a sink and pottie) in the basement, that would be a plus as well.
Over the years I've seen buyers walk away from a potential home they were interested in because the basement was beautifully finished but broken up into many rooms...because the particular layout of those rooms did not fit their needs, and they didn't have the "heart" to destroy all that beautiful work. But I have never had someone walk away because of a well-done basement with more openness...because, even if they NEED a few rooms, they can see that they could easily add them.
Good luck....hope this helps.
I am an agent in Western Springs. I have been doing real estate full-time for the past 30 years. I would say it depends on if you are going to be selling right away. If not do what makes sense for your family. I also live in Western Springs and my personal preference would be to make it a large, open space. I think that would be good for resale. The teardown market has definitely gone down in price. I have a website called WesternSpringsInfo.com where I post all of the sales.
If you have not sold your home yet and want an updated appraisal give me a call.
What did you end up doing? I live in WS and just had my agent do a CMA on my home. My basement is not considered finished because not all of the walls are finished and the ceiling isn't finished. I never really noticed because it has carpeting and a pool table.
Your home is smaller than most in the area. I wouldn't spend any money on the basement unless your agent says you need to. I would spend the money on staging to sell your home. Depending on the size of your lot, you home might sell as a tear-down and then all the money you spend on the basement is wasted.
However, if you decide to put in bedrooms, be sure to check your local ordinances regarding windows, egress, etc. In my area, you cannot put in a bedroom without a way for a firefighter to have direct access to the room. Most basement windows are too small. Check with your zoning/code enforcement official to find out what restrictions you would have in your neighborhood.
It is hard to say.
How many bedrooms does your home have? If it is short on bedrooms in the main living area, a buyer might be drawn to a nicely laid-out basement that offers extra bedrooms + living space.
Then again, a nicely finished open "rec room" might allow for buyers to see all of the possibilities.
The answer is so specific to the individual buyer's needs and any advice I offer would be a mere guess.