The Unexpected Home Feature That’ll Cost Buyers Way More (Especially in Summer!)

published May 21, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
After: basement with wood paneled walls, mid-century style furniture, and a plywood bar in one corner

When buyers are in the market for a new home in the cold, dark months of winter, they might not be thinking about that chilly, massive basement on the floor plan as a place of refuge. In fact, they may want quite the opposite: They could be looking for a sun-drenched, airy and warm home. Meanwhile, if they’re looking in the hot months, a nice, cool and dark basement may feel like just what they need. 

And they aren’t alone! A May 2024 report from Opendoor published found that homes with 1,000-square-foot basements sell for $32,000 more in the summer than they do in the winter months. Buyers looking to buy in the upcoming months, then, may have to pay a premium price for the feature, depending on the season they’re looking to buy their house. 

Opendoor utilized data from MLS listings and closings in its markets from 2018 to 2023 to create the report.

It’s not hard to hazard a few guesses why — basements are the ideal living room or den space from June to September. Plus, with their limited natural lighting, they’re great for movie days and function as prime nap locations. In many homes, the basement is the coolest room by a long shot — making them a true refuge from the heat and sun. 

Of course, they’re nice year-round; cozy autumn nights are just as cozy whether you’re in a basement or on the ground level. Their association with higher closing prices could be because they add tons of square footage during selling season, to boot.

But just because basements are cozy — and a hot commodity during selling season, apparently — doesn’t mean that they’re for everyone. One contributor who bought her home because of its basement has come to regret it: “… our love affair with having a basement would be short-lived and we would ultimately seriously reconsider having one on our list of must-haves for our next home search.” 

After all, there’s so much to consider when you’re looking for subterranean space — whether or not you’re in a flood zone, making sure your inspection includes structural and water damage checks, and ensuring the space is truly waterproof. So if a home with a basement is on the to-buy list, making sure it’s properly inspected, and possibly waiting a few months to buy it in a slower season, might take you far.