Americans love the comforts and conveniences a garage can offer — so much so that less than 7% of new U.S. single-family homes constructed in 2019 didn’t have one, according to an analysis from Eye on Housing. Given the ubiquity of garages and the desire for ample storage in a post-pandemic world, can you sell a house without a garage today?
“In my market area, not having a garage isn’t going to be a huge dealbreaker,” says Shane Underwood, a top Lexington, KY real estate agent who sells more condos and townhomes than average and who periodically gets a listing without a garage. “Especially for anything below $250,000 in my market, something appropriate for a first-time homebuyer, it’s not really going to be that much of a concern.”
So if you can’t lure buyers with an easy way to bring in the groceries or a spot to store a deep freeze, follow these tips covering how to promote a house with no garage for a quick sale. It’s time to highlight your home’s other strengths, like a walkable location, off-street parking, and alternative storage.
1. Price your home based on garage norms for your market
Despite the rising popularity of garages, certain markets and neighborhoods don’t value them as much as others. New England and the densely-populated cities in the Mid-Atlantic have more homes being built with carports and other types of off-street parking (20%), normalizing the garageless home as an option. Historic homes built before the arrival and popularity of car-sized garages in the 1920s and 1930s may not have a garage on the property, either.
“It’s absolutely market dependent,” says Woody Fincham, a real estate appraiser in the Charlottesville, Virginia area and the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award at the 2017 International Valuation Conference. “Where you have to have a permit to park on the street — any off-street parking is a feature people pay to have. In some condo communities, there are separately deeded parking spaces as well.” Fincham also notes that in urban centers or places with strong public transportation, properties are less likely to have a garage.
In neighborhoods where garages aren’t common, you can use comps without a garage to help price your own property for the market. Where garages are the norm, the pricing gets a little trickier. Pocket Sense estimates that the typical cost to add a garage is $27,000. So if all your comps have garages and are otherwise similar, your valuation might be cut by a similar amount.
However, make sure you’re not under-selling the value of your home. Features like an amazing view, excellent location, or attractive lot size or style could offset some of the value lost from not having a garage.
“I would tell sellers to see how the buyer feedback goes,” says Underwood. “See what you hear during the sales process. If someone says, ‘we would have made an offer but the property doesn’t have a garage,’ then at that point we might get estimates to consider offering up some sort of allowance for the new owner to make those improvements.”
2. Share the property’s parking options
Given that 91.3% of American households report having access to at least one vehicle, you’ll want to address the issue of your property’s parking situation head on with potential buyers.
If you have off-street parking:
Absent a garage, the next best thing a property can offer is off-street parking. Mention your driveway (especially if it’s been newly paved!) or a dedicated parking space if you have one.
If there’s room to build a garage:
Does your lot have enough space to build a garage or carport on the property sometime in the future? Share that, too. The possibility of constructing a garage may be enough for a buyer to take “no garage” off their list of deal breakers.
If there are opportunities to reserve a parking spot:
If you don’t have off-street parking, then be transparent about the street parking situation in your neighborhood. Communicate any strategies for easy parking or whether you can get an inexpensive parking permit to reserve a spot close to the property.
If you have a carport:
If you have a carport, be sure to spruce it up as part of your pre-listing to-dos. Start with a thorough cleaning using a gentle soap and water, and add a coat of paint to help prevent any metal from rusting. Use a neutral tone that complements the color of your home.
You could also consider adding floral vines to climb a wooden trellis along one side or the other of the carport. These efforts aren’t expensive and bring a little more privacy to the carport, as well as a touch of beauty.
3. Offset the lack of garage with other home highlights
So you don’t have a garage, and you’re not going to build one just to sell your home. That doesn’t mean your house has nothing to offer potential buyers. Now’s the time to identify your home’s best features and market them like crazy.
Our Q4 2020 survey of over 1,000 real estate agents across the country reveals that modern buyers are most drawn to the following upgrades:
- Kitchen islands (64% of agents cite as a desired upgrade), walk-in pantries (62%), and plenty of drawer and cabinet space for pots and pans (57%)
- Double sink vanities (65%), rainshower head (39%), linen closets (29%), and heated floors (26%)
- Energy efficient windows (61%)
- Stainless steel appliances (74%)
As you craft your listing description, be sure to mention any cool design features or special upgrades. Use phrases like “modern home; swanky kitchen; clean lines; and crisp, white cabinetry” to entice buyers to book a showing.
4. Play to the active crowd: bikers, walkers, and runners
Highlight any attractions within walking and biking distance as selling points of your garageless home. Emphasize convenience with callouts like “this house is a three-minute walk to the greenway to downtown” or “just a five-minute walk to a neighborhood grocery store.” Potential buyers will appreciate the opportunity to spend less time in traffic and live a life free from the hassles and expenses of owning a car.
In densely populated urban areas, you can also show how public transit fills in the gaps on rainy days. Access to a strong public transit system is a huge selling point — if you have a subway or bus stop closeby, your location will overcome a lot of the drawbacks of having no garage.
5. Draw attention to alternative storage throughout the home
For some homebuyers, no garage presents more of a storage problem than a parking dilemma. One survey commissioned by Gladiator GarageWorks showed that 25% of garage-owners don’t have space to fit a car around all their stored items.
“It’s funny, because many people don’t park cars in garages, using it for storage or to work out,” says Fincham. “It can be helpful to have the storage, but you can also have that storage in the form of a basement.”
Whether your home has an attic, basement, or roomy closets, whip your storage spaces into impeccable condition to show buyers that there are still places to put away bins and boxes in this home:
- Grab a push broom, power sweeper, or shop vacuum to remove muck and debris from shed or attic floors. Pristine spaces draw the eye.
- Add a layer of epoxy paint to concrete floor surfaces to make an unfinished look clean.
- Move as much of your existing storage as possible to a climate controlled unit or shipping container that can be delivered to your new residence. Underwood points out that having storage spaces empty can help to emphasize their roominess.
- Organize storage items that need to stay in or near the house. Install extra shelving and hooks if needed to clear floor space. Before photos or showings, make sure every item has a designated spot.
6. Respond to buyer concerns with appropriate solutions
After you’ve listed your home with no garage, pay attention to any showing feedback, particularly from buyers who don’t place an offer. If you are offered asking price or above without a problem, you can move forward knowing you’ve accurately read the market. However, if the initial response is not as strong as you hoped, you still have time to adapt.
One option is to field real contractor estimates for the cost to add a garage to a property. If there isn’t space to construct one, you could price out the cost to find a suitable permanent parking spot nearby, such as a permitted garage as an alternative.
With these estimates in hand, you can approach interested buyers with a price concession and a rationale, showing how they can add value to the home if they choose to build a garage, carport, or other form of storage or parking. Your willingness to negotiate on price makes it a more attractive property to buy as is.
7. Double down on marketing to overcome a niche buyer pool
Not all buyers will be happy purchasing a house without a garage. That’s OK. As a seller, you can counteract a smaller buyer pool with a multi-pronged real estate marketing strategy that gets your property listing in front of more eyeballs. Make sure you invest the time and effort to stand out on all fronts and reach potential buyers where they are.
In addition to syndicating your MLS listing to all of the major property websites — which should be table stakes for any real estate marketing plan — some ideas to enhance your listing promotion include:
- Professional listing photos that showcase all your best features, views, and rooms with lots of natural light
- A listing video that helps people see the lifestyle of the location and the property, not just the individual elements of the home
- Virtual open houses that draw people in to ask questions and form a connection with the property online
Underwood also recommends using your agent’s social media platforms — especially Facebook and Instagram — to drum up buzz about a listing and bring more attention to all your house has to offer. Consult our guide to creative real estate ad ideas for more inspiration on how to work with your agent and bring more buyers to a sale.
8. Drop hints that a new garage could also feature a loft unit
The model of having a stand-alone garage with a rental property has blossomed in popularity in recent decades, particularly in markets such as Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Miami.
If buyers in your market are likely to add a garage to your property, it doesn’t hurt to put a bug in their ear about customizing that garage to include a loft apartment to house friends or extended family. If your municipality allows for ADU (accessory dwelling unit) rentals, a garage loft is also a great income opportunity.
Mentioning this option to interested buyers who balk at having to add their own garage can remind them that, with a nice rental property, they could recoup the cost of the garage over time while creating a new revenue stream.
“We’ve seen a trend locally to add a carriage house, a garage with an apartment above it,” says Fincham. “In areas like university towns, it’s somewhat expensive to live downtown, leasing a property over a garage is appealing. These are substantial investments with good returns.”
9. Have a converted garage? Try the market before you change it back
Garages aren’t just for car storage anymore. In the wake of the pandemic, some homeowners have converted their garages into open-air, virtual learning classrooms or home gyms. While this is a personal decision, some buyers may appreciate a converted garage and see the value of whatever work you’ve done to make it a functional space. If not, stay open to negotiations.
“I worked with a listing where they had turned the garage into a gym,” says Underwood. “I suggested we market the property the way it was, with the gym, because you never know who the new owner is going to be, and we see what happens. To get the property under contract, they ended up making an allowance to convert it back for the new owner. It’s really case by case.”
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