In the past two weeks, storm shelters in Oklahoma have meant the difference between life or death for some people.
But as real estate professionals attest, the value of a storm shelter can make a difference when selling a home.
“I think we need to get out to the public that there is value here,” said Joe Pryor, president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors. “It will improve the value and salability of your home.”
Pryor equated the addition of a storm shelter to remodeling a kitchen.
“If you spend $3,000 on a storm shelter, you get two-thirds of the value back,” he said. “That’s a really good investment.”
Larry Stein with the Oklahoma County assessor’s office said it’s possible that the addition of a storm shelter wouldn’t increase property taxes on a house.
“State law allows us to exempt storm shelters up to 100 square feet, so people do not have to worry about those increasing their property taxes,” Stein said.
According to the county assessor’s office records, there are 14,817 registered storm shelters in Oklahoma County. This may sound like a large number, but compared to the approximate 250,000 residential properties in the county, that is only 6 percent of homes, The Journal Record reported.
Because of the rarity, one may think it is hard to find one when shopping for a new home, but Kathy Griffith with Prime Realty Inc. said real estate professionals can search specifically for storm shelters on the property listing service.
“We are getting more requests for homes with storm shelters, especially from people whose homes were destroyed,” she said. “They are very anxious about having that feature in their own home.”
Since the May 19 and 20 tornadoes in Oklahoma, the necessity for underground storm shelters has been discussed. Oklahoma City appraiser Terry Buford said the location of the shelter in proximity to the home somewhat alters the value it adds.
“Safe rooms typically cost more to install, but don’t add that much more value,” he said.
Therefore, a homeowner could get a better return on his or her investment by installing a below-ground storm shelter.
“Typically, they add about $2,500 to your home on most of your newer in-ground storm shelters,” he said. “They cost about $3,000 to $5,000 to put in. Your average buyer will look at it and say `Yeah, that’s worth the $2,500 to have that in there. It’s considered a value-added product, so anytime you can add value to a home, you’re better off doing that.”
Pryor said a storm shelter is more cost-efficient than building a home with a basement. He said a basement can add expense, which often stems from trying to keep the space dry when it is surrounded by Oklahoma red clay.
“Storm shelters are very efficient,” he said. “It’s the most efficient way in bad weather to protect yourself. It’s a real challenge to do a true basement. From a value point of view, the storm shelter is the better value.”
He said when people go to sell their homes, storm shelters – like an updated kitchen – can help buyers receive the maximum value for their home.
Homes on the market are priced in ranges, such as $180,000 to $200,000.
“If you want the maximum value to your home, you needed to have added value to your home,” Pryor said. “Hand-scraped wood floors, storm shelters, all of these things add to the value of your home.”
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