A Great Garage Sells

How To Leverage Your Garage's Selling Power

Home sellers can spend thousands of dollars on improvement projects such as repainting, upgrading flooring and sprucing up the landscaping before putting their homes on the market.  All too often; however, they overlook the garage.  It may get a perfunctory cleaning and not much more.  This is unfortunate considering what a hot commodity a garage can be, especially in growing urban markets.  With a small investment of effort and money, a garage can ‘wow’ potential buyers.

Keep in mind that your garage should reflect the style and quality of your home.  Start by considering your home’s curb appeal, specifically the garage door.  Is the style complementary to your home?  If your home falls into the high-end to luxury range, consider a new custom-designed wooden door made from durable mahogany, red wood, cedar or teak.  These can be designed to look like an old-fashioned carriage house door but they operate the same way as a standard sectional door that slides up and down on a track.  For moderately-priced homes, spending thousands on a new garage door may not be the best investment.  Check for peeling paint, cracks or dents and repaint, repair or replace as needed.  Clean the track and ensure that the motor is tuned and oiled, if required.

Imagine you are a buyer who has just stepped into your garage.  What will they see?  If your garage is typical, it is probably rather dark and cluttered.  Consider upgrading the lighting with brighter bulbs or additional fixtures.  Many types of incandescent bulbs can be replaced with energy-efficient florescent bulbs that are now available in a variety of shapes and equivalent wattages.  Task lighting will be appealing to anyone who likes to tinker in the garage.  Be sure to maximize natural illumination by cleaning the windows and clearing away any objects that are blocking the light.

Clutter seems to gravitate to garages.  When we don’t know where to store something, it gets tossed into the garage ‘just in case’.  A garage sale or donations to a local charity are a good start.  For all the items you wish to keep, ensure they are neatly stored in cabinets and on shelves.  Depending on the price of your home, people may be expecting something that looks like a car show room rather than a grease-stained place to store and fix bicycles, lawnmowers and vehicles.  A luxury garage boasts a spotless, gleaming floor and storage solutions that conceal tools and equipment behind custom cabinets attractive enough to grace a living room.  For most sellers, their garage falls somewhere between the two extremes.  In all cases, the garage should free of clutter with belongings neatly arranged in the storage system you choose.

Every garage floor can benefit from maintenance and repairs.  Begin by cleaning out the garage to access the floor or work in sections.  Sweep or vacuum up dust and dirt before washing.  Use a grease-cutting soap solution such as dish soap and a cup of vinegar in each bucketful.  You may need to repeat with fresh solution a few times.  Rinse well, especially if you plan to paint or seal the floor.  If there are cracks, now is an ideal time to fill them.  

One method of filling cracks involves a combination of ‘crack weld resin’ and sand.  After cleaning the floor, add a thin layer of resin to the crack.  Push in silica sand then saturate it with more resin.  The resin and sand mixture should slightly overflow the surface.  Let it set for 10 minutes, then using a putty knife, press on the surface to compact and smooth out the mixture.  At this point it should be flush with the surface of the floor; if necessary, scrape off any excess and smooth it out again.  Once it has completely dried, you can use sand paper to create a perfectly seamless surface.  Use a concrete sealer or concrete paint over your entire floor to refresh its appearance while hiding stains.

Although the main function of a garage is to protect vehicles from the elements, it can have many other uses. You may use your garage for hobbies that are too messy or loud to do in the house or you may want a personal oasis where you can kick back and watch a hockey game.  Buyers will generally appreciate the multiple functions of the space as long as it looks tidy.   

In some cities, homeowners are allowed to convert their garages to self-contained living spaces.  Check with your municipal government to see if they allow ‘carriage houses’.  Their building codes can help you to determine if the cost is feasible in your circumstance.  Although the small square footage requires some interior design expertise, this type of renovation can be a relatively affordable way to add additional room for family, guests or renters.  Major costs will be plumbing, electrical, insulation and flooring upgrades.  

Whether your garage is showroom quality, a basic one-car garage, a yoga studio, or a source of rental income, a little TLC can ensure you maximize its value for buyers.

Learn more about selling your home with Sutton!