Water-logged Basements Pose Unique Challenges When It Comes Time to Sell

By Keith Loria

A slew of weather-related catastrophes, including hurricanes, torrential rain and floods, have hit the U.S. in recent years, and as a result, homeowners across the board have had to deal with flooded basements.

But even heavy rain or snow can cause problems in certain homes, as foundations just can’t hold up against the water. For a house with a water problem like this, going up for sale can be a challenge, especially if heavy rains leave you with a few inches of water in the basement the day before an open house. Not only will there be no time to clean it up before a showing, it’ll also turn most prospective buyers off.

Not that you should hide the fact that there are water problems. You don’t want to be responsible for someone putting in an expensive remodel, only to have it ruined by water. But explaining to a potential buyer that there are water issues and having them actually see the water on the ground are two different things.

In most states, a seller is not allowed to conceal a major or material physical defect in the property. And most states require sellers to take a proactive role by making written disclosures on the condition of the property, including the basement and any water issues.

Plus, any good inspector should be able to tell a prospective buyer about any water damage the basement may have seen. Buyers can check for themselves during a showing as well. Seepage from foundation walls generally winds up on the floor and will leave stains on both the walls and the concrete floor. In finished areas where there is drywall or paneling, be sure to check the baseboards for signs of water.

The smartest thing for a seller to do is fix the problem. There are a number of reputable companies out there whose model is based on renovating basements and fixing all water issues. Repairing a leaky basement will pay back for itself several times over in the value of the home. In fact, studies show that a home’s value can drop by 10-20 percent because of a wet basement.

Something as simple as adding a sump pump and interior drainage system with a transferable warranty will do a great deal to help negotiations when meeting with prospective buyers.

Or, if you don’t want to go through any trouble with fixing the problem, be prepared to lower your price considerably so that the buyer has the funds to waterproof the basement once they move in.

For more information about taking care of water in the basement, contact our office today.