Remember the last time you walked though a house as a potential buyer? Imagine opening the door from the house to the garage and finding clean and generous garage cabinets. In different sizes. Some with doors, some open shelving. And everything stored away, neatly. Nice, eh?
Now imagine opening the same door into the garage and seeing storage solutions composed of boxes stacked on top of other boxes, tools leaning against the wall and piles of sports equipment, off-season clothing and other "stuff" just strewn around. Clearly the first picture is more attractive. But, as you think about buying the house, how much more would you pay for the first house, the one with the well-organized garage space?
Real estate professionals point out that well-designed garage cabinets add to a home's value in two ways. First, like all "improvements," they are inherently valuable to a buyer -- if the buyer can use them. And who can't use storage solutions? Perhaps more important, it helps "de-clutter" the garage itself while helping to hide items that would otherwise clutter the house -- the kitchen, the utility room, the bathroom or closets generally. Crowded storage inside a house is a serious negative to potential buyers, so having storage, even in the garage, is a huge plus.
So don't think of your installation of garage cabinets as an expense. Think of it as an investment. The website Trulia.com estimates that a good garage space can add $5,000 to $10,000 onto the resale value of the house. Not only will you be able to enjoy using your garage more, but you'll be able to recoup most or all of the money spent on the garage storage solutions. And don't forget to USE the cabinets to "de-clutter" the garage and the house when it comes time to sell your home. As your listing agent will point out, "If a buyer sees your stuff scattered around, they will assume the house is not large enough to hold the buyer's stuff either."
What type of garage cabinets will add the most value? The answer to that question is two-fold. The first has to do with the inherent attractiveness, quality and style of the cabinets themselves. And the second has to do with flexibility and how well the storage solutions match with what a new buyer will likely want.
"Attractiveness, quality and style" means that the cabinets are made from good materials and are well-designed. Shoddy, particle-board cabinets, flimsy doors, poor paint finishes or cabinets with dings or scratches are to be avoided. While your cabinets don't need to look like they are in a showroom -- this is a garage after all! -- they do need to convey strength, functionality and a certain self-confidence about how they look. Coordinated color schemes are a must. Good finishes are expected. And strong materials will only add to the value.
"Flexibility and how well the storage solutions work" means simply "can the garage cabinets be configured so most people will find them useful?" If your cabinets are perfect for your woodworking hobby -- a workbench, places for lumber, pegboards for tools and the like -- how will someone with lots of gardening tools or painting materials value your garage? Make sure your investment in garage cabinets can be used by a broad range of other people. Otherwise the garage you view as an asset might be worthless, or even a liability, when it comes time to sell your property.
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Nick Dixon - Owner of Garage Shapeups and Lifetime Epoxy Floors.
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