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How Has COVID-19 Changed Homebuyer Demand for Basements?

After the onset of COVID-19, real estate trends shifted, and buyers began prioritizing basements. Discover what's driving basement interest in 2020.

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Following the initial shock of COVID-19, homes took on new importance in daily life. By April, people in the U.S. were spending 24 percent more time at home, and space needs shifted to accommodate telecommuting, remote learning, and more free time spent at home.

A recent report from showed that homebuyer interest in basements changed dramatically between 2019 and 2020. Find out how demand for basements has been increasing and how the trends affect properties in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

Surging Interest in Homes with Basements

According to real estate search data from, basement interest in 2020 is three times higher than in 2019. The spike in interest follows the trends of the coronavirus pandemic. As reopening began in the spring, many more homebuyers began searching for properties with basements.

real estate basements during COVID-19

Homebuyer Interest in Basements

Month2019 % of Searches2020 % of Searches

How Did Monthly Interest in Basements Change Between 2019 and 2020?

  • February: 15.4%
  • March: -25.3%
  • April: 22.6%
  • May: 194.7%
  • June 282.4%
  • July: 340.8%
  • August: 345.5%

Interestingly, homebuyers’ demand for basements has remained strong throughout the summer. Even while regions are in varying phases of reopening, the initial shock seems to have caused long-term changes to homebuyer preferences throughout the housing market. 

The New Role of Basements in Post-COVID Home Life

Homebuyer search trends show that basements are playing a new role in daily life. Basements add usable square footage to a home, have multipurpose potential, and can be renovated to fit many new needs. 

During COVID-19, we’ve seen basement renovations commonly used for these four purposes:

  1. Workspaces: Basements are being transformed into home offices for those working from home or workspaces for students who are learning remotely. Typically, the design focuses on individual work locations that are dedicated to quiet and focus. However, rather than office spaces for remote work, some basements are using an open floor plan for an at-home classroom used by a learning pod.
  2. Storage: Households have an increasing need for storage space as habits changed to more bulk shopping and fewer trips to the store. Basement storage can be used for pandemic buying habits such as a stockpile of toilet paper. In some cases, there has also been a shift in storage locations with upper-story pantries and walk-in closets being repurposed, and that storage moving to the basement.
  3. Recreation: With changes in access to sports arenas, bars, gyms, and other recreation spots outside of the home, basement renovations are making it possible to mirror those experiences at home. Homeowners are transforming basements into media rooms, home gyms, man caves, and other ways to accommodate more time spent at home.
  4. Lodging: Many families are finding that they need additional space for college students moving back home or for elderly relatives moving out of nursing homes. Converting a basement into an additional bedroom or in-law suite gives those household members some additional privacy. It also creates the potential to have a basement Airbnb in the future. 

Basement demand among homebuyers is only part of the story. The other piece is the basement renovations and updates that transform the space to be most useful for the household. 

Digging into Google search trends helps us better understand what’s happening locally.

In Virginia, 80 percent more people are searching for how to refinish a basement. This growth from 2019 to 2020 shows that many more Virginians are researching what it would take to turn their lower level into a livable area.

In Maryland, there was a 90 percent increase this year in searches about basement flooring. These searchers may be looking to renovate an existing finished basement. In other cases, they could be focusing on the basement floor as a budget solution to improve the livability of their basement.  

Additionally, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. remain a strong cluster for interest in basement waterproofing. In the past three months, Maryland ranked 6th in the country for the most interest in basement waterproofing. Washington, DC, was 7th, and Virginia was 18th. 

Improving a Home’s Value With Basement Renovations

A Motley Fool investment report says that a finished basement can increase a property’s value by 70 percent.

However, before thinking about room furnishings and furniture, the first step is to assess the structure of the basement. Many homes benefit from professional basement waterproofing that uses rigid wall panels to seal out groundwater and make it more difficult for pests to get inside. This is the key way to transform a damp or musty space into a comfortable room that feels like a part of the house. 

Those in a flood-prone area may also need interior drainage solutions or a sump pump to prevent water from damaging belongings, floors, and drywall. Implementing these solutions in the beginning can help avoid a situation where a newly finished basement is ruined after a big storm. 

Each home has different water risks and structural needs. Whether you’re buying a home or are converting an existing basement, the experts at JES Foundation Repair provide free inspections to help more homeowners understand their property’s needs. The JES team specializes in basements, and an inspection can help homeowners understand potential trouble signs and avoid problems down the road. Learn more about some of the basement problem signs and how JES Foundation Repair can help.

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