Rental property WITHOUT a basement in Kansas City - good or bad?

9 Replies

Hi guys,

I just put a few offers in Kansas City, MO for SFH. At first I was only looking for properties with a concrete basement because of the natural disaster - tornado. Along the way, I've learned that most of the properties in KCMO are old and the basement is usually in a worse shape than the house itself. The basement usually has water leakage issue or some even with foundation issues, which are not cheap to fix. Then I asked my agent if the basement is a necessity in KC? He told me a not-so-helpful-at-all answer "it depends. Some people don't like a basement or don't need one....and some do"

I did some research myself and found: most people would like a basement cause it's safe to have one in case of a tornado and it doubles the living space. It's easier to sell and good for re-sell vale.

I'm afraid I'm biased on this cause my first decision was to buy the property with a basement because I think it's safer and I'd want to live in a safer house. But I'm not going to live there and maybe renters don't really care or tornado is really not that bad in KC....

Can anyone share your thoughts or your experiences? Or if you live in KC, would you care to have a basement? Thank you!!


Becky, I am from Kansas City and built my mom a house without the basement.  In building the house we designed the bathroom as a storm shelter.  Behind the sheetrock were cement blocks and steel, the door was also made of steel.  we had a phone put in there also.  Although a basement is nice, unless it is a finished basement it is usually used for storage and as you said as a shelter.  By the way the house is for sale if you are interested.  My mother passed a few months after the house was completed.  Let me know if you are interested.

@Becky Lu - I live in Kansas City and have rental both with basement and without basement and have not noticed a difference at all in the ability to rent them out.  It is actually pretty nice having a rental on a slab as you do avoid those potential basement issues.  I think having a 2nd bath vs basement is much more valuable to renters.

@Joyce White -where is your mom's house located? I may be interested.

I have lived in Kansas my whole life I do have a basement now but most placed I lived have not. As far as a safety concern it's not an issue for us I've only seen a tornado once.

My husband and I have spoke about this as we are looking for properties. He is a home inspector and sees the problems basements can cause we would probably pick a home without a basement over one with. 

Hope that helps.

For my own house the basement is mandatory. For rentals it is usually not a deal breaker, although i have had a few prospects say it is important to them.  The basement adds value for resale but i am holding long term and have several on crawlspace and one on slab. 

@Becky Lu I think the question you need to address is what is the norm for the local rental market...your agent should be able to address this (if not, get a new agent). So, if you are investing in a 1200 sq. ft. 3/2 in area X...and market rents are $X for all properties with a basement and $Y for all properties on a slab, which is the better deal. Moreover, you should factor your ability to maximize return...weigh this: If you buy a property with basement issues/needed repairs, you will dedicate time and capital to get it market ready and have capex and maintenance costs during the investment period...alternatively, you purchase a property on a slab that may not be the market norm, may take longer to rent, and may bring a significantly lower rent. What is the best choice over the life of the investment...and more importantly, which one brings you less stress to manage and maintain.

My first house was in suburban Prairie Village, KS and it had a basement. While the basement had certain pain in the @$$ attributes, in general I prefer a basement over not having one.

All your plumbing, electrical, ductwork, etc. is exposed in the basement, which makes it much easier to work on. No tearing out walls, etc. The HVAC unit is also in the basement so there's no climbing around in the attic. And the washer/dryer is also frequently in the basement.

It's also nice to have the extra storage space. People with basements can actually park in the garage because they're not using it for storage.

The downside is the water that can get in the basement, so you need a sump pump. If the sump pump goes out, you could find yourself with a flooded basement. We had a big ice storm which knocked out the power for a week. We got a hotel for the duration, but I had to go buy a small battery-operated pump to drain the sump pump well twice a day.

Having said that, I wouldn't let the lack of a basement be a deal breaker. If the deal makes sense for you, go for it.

@Becky Lu I wouldn't automatically eliminate a possible property for my rental portfolio just because it didn't have a basement IF there is enough living space throughout on the main level. One of my own rental guidelines is try to have 2 living areas. If the house has 2 living areas, such as a family room and a living room, and no basement, I am probably okay with it. If it is a tiny little house with very little living space I would probably move on.

A lot of people use a basement for living space and storage.

Good luck!

There are a lot of rental 4 plexes without a basement in Lees Summit area built around 30 years ago. For rental "no basement" means - less expenses :))) it is very expensive to fix a basement :((( Regarding a shelter - most of tornados have a warning ahead and a lot of public places have safe areas so people have a chance to take it seriously. Some tornados do not have warning at all and people do not have a chance to take actions at all. And some are so strong that basement would not help :((( "normal" here is to have a basemen but if your numbers work for this exact property - make your decision. As I understand - a lot of cheap houses in some areas of MO do not have basements and this is normal there.

Finished basements are desirable in Kansas City but it's due to the additional living space, not really because of safety. Most people in KC don't really think about tornados since we've grown up with sirens our whole lives and have probably never even seen a tornado.

In your analysis if the basement is finished, treat it as additional square footage that will likely generate higher rent. If it's unfinished, it's just storage space and likely won't generate additional rent. Depending upon the age of the house, a basement may cause more maintenance issues than a house on a slab.