How to Sell a House with a Leaky Basement in Massachusetts

According to the Washington Post, over 40% of standalone houses in the US have a basement. That’s around 38 million basements, so it’s no surprise that they’ll develop a problem at one time or another.

Basements vary from being dark, damp storage areas to providing comfortable, well-appointed extra living space. We’d all hope that our home’s basement would be an additional selling point, but if it’s leaking, that may not be the case. Read on to find out how a leaky basement may hinder the selling process, and how to work around it.

What causes a wet basement?

There are four sources of moisture that can affect your basement:

  1. Rainwater – Approximately 50 inches of rain falls on your Massachusetts home every year; any defect in the grading, guttering, and downspouts is going to mean water in the basement.
  2. Groundwater – It is possible in periods of extended wet weather for the water table under your house to rise leading to water in your basement unless the drainage systems are up to the task.
  3. Moisture sources within the home – Any source of hot, damp air – clothes dryers without proper ventilation, humidifiers, cooking, and showers, for instance – will produce moisture that can affect the basement.
  4. Humid air that condenses – Similarly, if the weather is humid it will carry moisture into a cool basement that will then condense and add to any damp problem.

From the above, you can see why it is that many people have issues with leaky basements. Depending on what you use your basement for and how much dampness there is, you may be able to live with it but it is not ideal when seeking a buyer for your home.

What should I do before selling my home with a leaky basement?

You have three choices:

1) Deal with the water getting in

Before embarking on what can be the expensive business of getting in contractors to waterproof your basement you could look at ways of minimizing the amount of water that is causing the problem.

  1. If you have areas of standing water close to your house after rainfall it might be possible to regrade a lawn or yard to prevent this. The typical cost of getting a landscaper to regrade your property varies from just under $1,000 to a little over $3,000 according to HomeAdvisor, depending on size and location.
  2. Check your guttering and downspouts to ensure they are working correctly and not letting the runoff flow into the ground right by your basement.
  3. If you don’t want to fix extenders to your downpipes then consider installing rain barrels on them and collecting the rainfall. This not only improves the leaky basement problem but helps conserve water, too.

Don’t forget, when you sell a house you have to be honest about the problems. You can’t keep a leaky basement a secret and you should let any potential buyer know the extent of the problem and the measures you have taken to rectify it.

2) Bite the bullet and waterproof your basement

Doing a complete waterproofing job is quite expensive but may be worth it. Among the things you might get done are:

  • Install a sump pipe that will remove the water from a collecting basin and send it out into your yard. If the area is big enough, you might need multiple pumps. The average cost is $1,200 for a sump pump installation but they are effective in protecting your basement from water damage.
  • Add a concrete vapor barrier if there isn’t one – this will cost up to $4,000.
  • Weeping tiles (they are not tiles at all, rather a French drain system), prevent water pooling and can be installed either in the basement or outside. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for the whole project.
  • Exterior waterproofing means excavation and that means expense but exterior sealing is a reliable way of preventing water ingress. Expect to pay $2,000 – $4,000 or more for this process.

Whatever measures you take try to get transferable guarantees on the work so that a buyer will benefit and see it as a strong selling point.

Waterproofing a basement, if you have the time and money, can make financial sense. It seems you will more than get back your investment when you sell, plus your house will be easier to market with a basement that doesn’t leak.

3) Sell your home as-is

This is the simplest thing to do.

The downside of an as-is sale is that you will have to expect a lower price for the property than would otherwise be the case. The upside is speed. If time is important, or you simply don’t have the cash to invest in fixing your leaky basement, then as-is will be the best option for you.

The amount you lose will vary depending on how bad the leak is and how long it’s been leaky. If it’s not done any damage and it’s just a case of getting it reproofed, you may only need to knock $4,000 off what the buyer offers you to account for the work. However, if the leak has caused additional problems, the price will be more heavily affected.

How to choose which option is best for you

If you’re able to and you want to put your home on the open market, get a home inspection so you know exactly what you’re working with. You can then show this information to any potential buyer. It’s also a good idea to speak to a local realtor as they will know about basements in your area and what buyers will overlook, and what they won’t. They can also direct you on what you should do in terms of remedial action.

Many people don’t have the time or funds to worry about doing all this work before they sell, and if that sounds like you, then we encourage you to get in touch. We buy houses in Massachusetts in any condition. There are no fees and no long waits – just contact us and we’ll give you a fair cash home offer with no in-depth inspection and we can close as fast as 7 days!

Our offer puts you under no obligation to sell, so why not explore all your options? You don’t have to prepare your house for viewings or make costly repairs – we buy as-is. Click here to get your cash offer.

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Selling a property in Massachusetts in today's market can be confusing. Get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help guide you through your options.

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