When you talk to a Realtor about selling your home, the first question you'll probably ask is, "How much can I get for my home?"

The accuracy of the answer you get will depend on whether the Realtor has toured your home, and whether she's studied nearby homes like yours that have sold recently. 

But both your listing price and your actual selling price are determined by multiple features. These include square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the neighborhood, the quality of things like cabinetry, countertops, and flooring, and the age of things like HVAC, plumbing, electrical system, roof, and appliances. 

Everything in your home has value in the marketplace. Let's look at three specific areas often overlooked as sources of additional monetary value.     

Outdoor living areas

Do you have a porch, a deck, or a patio? Showcase any of these features because each one is a perk that people value more than ever. More people now work from home, a trend that many employers and employees both favor. Also, the number of households that are multi-generational is rising, so families need room to spread out. 

Every home-buying demographic group appreciates useable exterior spaces that can be used for relaxation, entertaining, and recreation. Be sure they are staged so they can't be ignored, and so they ignite the imagination of people looking to buy. 

While some outdoor amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs, vegetable gardens, and extensive (high-maintenance) landscaping may not be high on the wish list of every buyer, there are some outdoor luxuries that definitely score points with most buyers. 

No matter what the season is when you actually list
your home for sale, and no matter where you live, 
if you have an outdoor fire pit, it's a bonus and should
be staged and be part of the MLS photo package
of your property. Photo: Epic Garden Design

Privacy comes naturally to a narrow sideyard
bordered by buildings. Instead of ignoring the space, these
homeowners emphasized its assets with the addition 
of plantings, pavers, and seating. Photo: Elle Decor
There is something sweet and nostalgic about a 
front porch, especially one like this that
capitalizes on its charm by being staged with potted
plants and two porch swings. Photo: Southern Living


What could have been merely an empty area has
become a cozy corner to relax, read, or enjoy
morning coffee. And all it took was a load of gravel
and a bistro set. Photo: Garden Studio Design


Room over the garage

Real estate listings will usually specify if a home has a FROG -- a finished room over the garage. But when I peruse online listings, I see it's common to use this room for random storage. They are sometimes furnished with a mixture of cheap, unloved furniture. Or they serve as a storage site for memorabilia, luggage, and out-of-season clothing, sports equipment, and seasonal decorations.  

But a FROG is a valuable asset that can be staged as a playroom, home office, gym, or craft room. If the room meets certain legal real estate industry standards, it can be counted as a bedroom. To do so it must have qualities like adequate headroom, two exits, appropriate means of heating and cooling, and other requirements. Local codes can vary, so talk to your Realtor about whether any FROG that is part of your property qualifies to be listed as a bedroom.

If your home has a finished room over the garage, be sure the listing mentions your FROG and includes it in the online photos. Both families and retirees especially value these kinds of bonus spaces and will pay for them. Buyers want space for hobbies like painting, sewing, scrapbooking, gaming, and collecting.  

A fresh coat of paint in your FROG will make a big difference in how it looks and feels. On average, interior painting has a 107% ROI. But if your home was built before 1977, there's chance it contains lead-based paint, which is a serious health danger if ingested or breathed as flakes or dust. You'll need to determine if it does by testing a sample. Today, here is an easy way to remove lead paint

Home offices are increasingly popular. A finished room
over the garage is a natural spot for getting homework or
office work or crafting done. Staging like what's done in this
example, would be economical to do. Photo: HearthWarming
If your FROG legally qualifies as a bedroom, it will
be easy to stage it as one with a few
pieces of furniture. Photo: Home Bunch
Another possibility is to stage a FROG as a glamorized
storage room. What woman wouldn't love to
have a place to store her wardrobe items that are
temporarily out of circulation, or even as as a
dressing room all her own. Photo: Woodworking Network 


Finished basement

Finishing a basement has an incredibly high ROI of 77.6%. It may seem like a daunting task because it sounds like such a big project, but you don't need to do anything fancy. You could insulate the walls (or leave them as is), hang drywall (or just paint the existing walls), and add a floating floor or carpeting (or just paint the concert). All these improvements can build up your home's equity. Just be sure to check your local building codes and restrictions before you get started if you plan anything structural or electrical. 

And when your home has an existing basement, be sure to stage it to show it off! 

Make sure the entire area is dry and stays dry. If the walls show signs of water damage or mildew, fix the problem that's causing the moisture. Clean any stains from mildew with a mildewcide and when thoroughly dry, use a stain-blocking primer before applying any other paint to the surface. Use a dehumidifier if dampness is an ongoing concern. 

Basements characteristically suffer from a lack of natural light sources. If there are windows in your basement, make sure outdoor landscaping or indoor window treatments are not blocking any sunlight. Check your overhead lighting so that the room is illuminated as much as possible when the real estate agent throws that light switch on a home tour with clients.

If you want to let in more light and create exterior exit, Family Handyman shows you how to install a basement window that satisfies egress codes. It takes some skill and tools and strength, but would make a dramatic difference. 

Sometimes a basement is just a basement, and it's not worth spending lots of money to make it something it's not. Maybe it wants to be a no-frills room for Netflix bingeing or gaming, or a space to get in a workout, have a party, or serve as a man cave. As long as it is clean, well lighted, smells fresh, and is simply staged to give buyers an idea how it can be used, you're good.  

The ultimate bonus room is a downstairs family room
 or extra living room. If there is appropriate plumbing,
it might even be a separate living space for
an adult child or parents. Photo: Next Luxury

A more budget-friendly staging solution would be carpeting,
some comfortable seating, a television,
and a table with chairs. Photo: Source unknown

Even though they finished the flooring and walls,
these owners decided to leave the ceiling exposed,
resulting in an industrial loft vibe. At one end there's 
a workout space, bar and television, and
at this end is a relaxing area that includes
a built-in aquarium. Photo: Penquin Basements  
  

Bright lights and white paint make this basement bedroom feel
big and clean -- just what buyers like! Although Ashley Kix used a real
bed here, I blogged about how to create a fake bed for homestaging


You can still home stage a basement on a shoestring. Paint the concrete floor.
Hang large artwork. Add a big mirror. Bring in a pool table
(look for a second-hand one) or a ping pong table instead if you
want to be more frugal. This room even manages
to incorporate a small corner bar. Photo: Sorce unknown 

Get the look, get the book

If you have a finished basement, a FROG, or a porch, patio, or deck, do what it takes to attract attention to its possibilities for prospective buyers. Declutter, repair, clean, stage. These are the steps that will earn you more money at the closing table.

Whether it's a buyers market or a seller's market where you live now, staging all your rooms will help your chances for a quick sale. For much of the US now, it's a buyer's market, but many buyers are submitting offers above asking price as soon as they become available. And what home seller doesn't want to kick off a friendly little bidding war? 

To find more ways to make your home more valuable, download my homestaging eBooks and discover how easy it is to do your own staging, on your own schedule and with your own budget and your own furniture. You can begin staging today.

Top Photo: Country Classics