Some people look at the garage and see a place to store a car. Others envision something grander: a work space, perhaps, or even a whole new living area. But will the renovation work improve the value of your home?
The answer is: maybe. “A well-organized, updated garage can absolutely help sell your home,” says Britt Lopez, a realtor with Dallas City Center Realtors. But renovations that seem ideal for your family—like turning your garage into a game room for teenagers—may actually be what keep a prospective buyer away.
So before you make over this often-neglected space, it’s a good idea to get input from the pros. Here’s what they recommend.
1. Install A Functional Garage Door
A heavy wooden door that requires muscle to open manually isn’t going to fly with homebuyers. Instead, install a garage door that opens automatically, or swap out the old door for a lightweight aluminum one. “When it comes to resale, the door is priceless,” says Joseph Santarelli, builder and owner of JDS Innovative Home Concepts in Dallas. He also suggests getting the new door in a color that complements the house.
2. Insulate And Vent The Space
If you have an attached garage and live where there’s extreme heat or cold, it makes sense to insulate the walls and ceiling. You’ll capture some of the home’s climate control, which will help protect you and your car from the weather, says Santarelli. Insulate the door, too, by adding weather stripping on the bottom and sides to reduce drafts. Also, ensure the attached garage is properly vented, so carbon monoxide isn’t seeping into the house. Install a carbon monoxide detector to alert you to unsafe conditions.
3. Use A Smart Storage Strategy
It’s fine to keep out-of-season things stored in your garage, but cluttering the space with baseball equipment, plastic swimming pools and the like can send the wrong message. “It makes buyers think there’s not enough space in the house,” warns Lopez. She suggests investing in heavy-duty plastic bins of the same size, labeling them and placing them neatly on shelves. “A little bit of shelving goes a long way,” agrees Santarelli. “The most economic solution is to install heavy-duty wire shelves or buy uniform freestanding shelves designed to work with large bins.” Just ensure that freestanding shelves are secured to the walls so they don’t tip over onto anyone.
4. Install Adequate Lighting
Have an electrician install motion-sensitive lights, if you don’t already have them. And if they’re not bright enough, says Santarelli, add more. A dark garage may be not only unappealing to prospective buyers but also unsafe. He recommends installing two 48-inch shop lights with LED bulbs (at 4,000 lumens apiece, roughly 40 watts) for each car space.
5. Put An Easy-To-Clean Finish On The Floor
Paint the floor with an epoxy finish so it’s easy to clean. “It makes a huge difference,” says Santarelli. “Concrete is porous, but if you paint or seal concrete, oil from the car won’t stain the floor.” Lopez agrees—and adds that this DIY step can make a boring concrete floor literally shine in a buyer’s eyes.
6. Add More Electrical Outlets
If you don’t already have outlets, have an electrician install two GFCI (waterproof) electrical outlets per garage wall—a total of six in a one-car garage—just like you would in a house, recommends Santarelli: “It’s a small additional cost, but there’s a big payoff.” Also, installing a fire extinguisher is always a good idea.
7. Add A Walk-Through Door
If you have a detached garage, hiring a contractor to install a door for people means you don’t have to open and close the main garage door every time. “A separate entrance is a huge improvement,” says Santarelli.
8. Let Your Car Own The Space
Keep the space primarily as a place to store your car, says Lopez. A garage (or even half of a two-car garage) that’s been reimagined as something else—a painting studio, furniture-refinishing area or craft room—will not enhance the value of your home. In fact, she says, it can be a black eye on your listing, especially if the prospective buyer doesn’t share your vision for the space. Lopez does mention an exception: A living space built above the garage will add to the value of your home, and even more so if it has a kitchen and full bath.
9. Keep The Outside Tidy
If the outside of the garage looks dilapidated, it can discourage prospective buyers, just like a crumbly or cracked driveway might. “Buyers form an impression of the house before they walk in the door,” says Lopez. “And sometimes the garage is the first thing they see.”
Remember: When you make upgrades to your garage—or any room in your home—you should update your homeowners policy.
Read more: Here’s how to clear the clutter from your garage.
By Ellise Pierce