The big notch carved into the front of Linda Besemer’s Echo Park property will be filled by a four-car garage by the end of the summer. The artist and Occidental College professor decided to undertake the $150,000 project – which will also include a roof deck and small rec room – after the roof of her 93-year-old, one-car garage collapsed. With two cars in her household, Besemer was also tired of competing with neighbors for scarce street parking – “It’s like parking wars” – as well as vandalism. While her garage (which will also provide parking for a second house on her lot) will make life more convenient, will it prove a good investment? Besemer was told it would not add much value to her home, especially compared to putting money into a new bathroom or kitchen. Some real estate agents, however, said that garage might be worth more than she thinks.
Echo Park, like most Eastside neighborhoods, was developed well before the city required off street parking. “A lot of houses around here don’t have garages,” said Bessemer, pointing to the homes across the street from her property The relatively few garages that were built for pre-World War I Craftsman-bungalows and 1920s Spanish Colonial-style cottages were often one-car affairs, which set the stage for today’s “parking wars” that Besemer describes.
It’s hard to say, however, how much extra cash a garage or off-street space is worth when a home comes up for sale, said real estate agents. “I think any time you can add more parking it adds value, especially in an area like Echo Park where finding street parking can be a challenge,” said agent and blogger Rob Kallick via email. “There’s a very nice home on the market in Echo Park right now that has no parking at all which definitely makes it a tougher sale. If they added a parking strip – or a garage – I think that would add value for sure. It’s hard to calculate how much, but it could be the difference between a quick sale and sitting on the market for 60 days or more.”
Dan Ortega, a Keller Williams agent, said a home without parking will sell but not as much for a similar home with a garage. “A client of mine passed on a home that only had 1 small garage … everything else was perfect for them [but] they didn’t not want to deal with street parking.”
“So while you may not be able to add a specific amount to the sales price after putting in a garage,” said Ortega in an email, ” it’s certainly worth thinking about.”