Just like in Home Alone, when Macaulay Culkin would run up the basement stairs when the furnace started to click and groan, they can be a scary place when you’re a kid. To a teenager, it’s the hang out area for them and their friends — a place where mom and dad won’t complain about the mess or noise. And to a parent, a basement is more often than not a catch-all for tools, furniture or anything else that you have to stow away when the family comes over for their Thanksgiving meal.

But speaking more to the adult or parent, a basement can offer more than storage; it could mean a better home value. Why? Well, the basement is the foundation of a home, so what better place to begin determining the value of a home?

Different basements offer different value features. Walkout basements have an exit, which can be desirable to many buyers, especially if it walks out to an impressive backyard or lake. Daylight basements are nice as well. They often have large windows that allow for natural lighting, which is a plus for some buyers. There are also partial basements. This is where some of or the entire basement is a garage. It’s a great use for additional storage space. Then there is the unfinished basement, notorious in its use for both storage and exercise.

Depending on the market and zoning regulations, one might not be able to legally live underground, so basement bedrooms might not offer much in the way of value. However, bathrooms do add value. (Baltimore throne, anyone?) When looking at the value added by a basement, the structural integrity of the walls and floor are important.

Here are a few more things to look for while determining the value of a basement:

Walls – Has there been patchwork done? Are there cracks or mold? This could be a sign of a moisture problem. Depending on the region, this could mean trouble when the snow melts or if there’s what seems like a record rainstorm brewing above your home.

Ceiling – Is it a drop ceiling or is it open? Is there any sign of moisture?

Floor – Is the floor finished? Is there carpet, concrete, wood, dirt? It all makes a difference.

Windows – Adding egress windows can add additional functionality to the home, and may influence potential buyers.

Kitchens and bathrooms – Before deciding to add a kitchen or bathroom to your basement, check with the local building department to pull the necessary permits.

Just keep in mind that money spent refinishing a basement will not likely produce a dollar for dollar value to your home. That being said, just because a basement’s square footage isn’t reported as livable space in an appraisal report doesn’t mean that the basement can’t impact the value of a home. As mentioned, it’s the foundation of the house. Therefore, a healthy usable basement could mean healthy usable cash for a seller!

For more information visit www.marylandappraisal.com.