Did you know that your closets are speaking subliminally to potential home buyers? What they say to them can not only make a difference in whether they make an offer on your home, but what kind of offer they make on your home. It’s neither a mystery or a surprise to most people to find out that storage and closets are one of the most important features that home buyers pay attention to, despite the fact that it is rarely listed on the “must have” list they give to their real estate agent. What is a surprise to find out is what they are really seeing when they are looking at them.
What your home’s closets may be telling home buyers
1) Your relationship is having problems and we can probably get this house cheap. One of the most disconcerting things I see in master bedroom closets is when either his or her clothes have moved on to another bedroom. Sure, it’s not that big of a deal. He travels all the time so keeping his stuff in the spare room doesn’t seem like a big deal. Maybe she snores and has decided to sleep in the other room. It doesn’t mean the marriage is falling apart. But this is exactly how home buyers interpret things.
Never sell a home without his and her clothes in the master bedroom closets. When selling your home, even if you are having marriage difficulty, in order to maximize your advantage in selling your home, you simply MUST have both his and her clothing in the master bedroom closets.
2) This home is too small for these people. It’s probably too small for us too. Don’t pretend that you don’t stand in your closet on a regular basis, frustrated that you just don’t have more room. I see it, and so do buyers, even if you want to deny it. The fact that closets are stuffed together, shelves are full, and there is stuff all over the floor, making walking in the closet impossible, shows me clearly that this is not big enough for you.
I, as a buyer, could decide that you simply have too much stuff, or that you are disorganized, but that’s never what happens. Instead, I decide that you don’t have enough storage space, or surely you wouldn’t have this problem. If you can’t get your stuff to fit, how will I? I mean I’m buying this home to move up, that will mean I’ll want more stuff too.
One of the worst things that home owners can do when selling their home is have unorganized and packed closets.
3) There’s no place in this home to store my luggage & Christmas decor. Yes, I know that you have an attic, a coat closet, a linen closet, and even great storage space in your garage, but instead you insist in storing your extra, seldom-used items in the 4th bedroom closet. You see, I have three kids and when I put my kid’s stuff in that closet then where will I put these extra things? This is a four bedroom home and it must look like one. Even if you use that extra bedroom as a home office or guest suite, then you need to remember that home buyers will be looking at this space possibly to live in everyday. All of that extra stuff, they probably have too, but if this is where you store it, then they’ll think they don’t have a place to store it.
Put yourself in the mindset of a home buyer that needs to use every room in the home.
4) You aren’t good with your finances. How many boxes of receipts, taxes, and misc paperwork do you have in your closets that is pouring out onto shelves and the floor? Do you have stacks of envelopes and credit card statements in piles on your shelves? First of all, you should know that this is like looking at a car accident. No matter how much I know I shouldn’t look, it’s none of my business, my eyes also can’t seem to divert themselves from trying to determine how big your bank account statement, or credit card balances are. Can, in a glance, I determine that you are past due on your bills?
Get all private and confidential information away from the view of potential home buyers. If you must keep these handy, then buy some nice bins to put them in and simply pull the bin down when you are ready to do your bills.
And now for some good news…..
5) If I buy this home I could live like Oprah. What? You don’t think closets can say that? What if they looked like this photo? I’ll just bet that your closet isn’t saying that. What if your closets really could feel like Oprah Winfrey’s closet? Do you think that home buyers might get more excited about the idea of living here? Would they maybe pay more for your home?
Don’t discount the importance of making your home look like what home buyers are seeing on Pinterest, Houzz, HGTV, and other online magazines. There is a huge opportunity for making your home memorable and more valuable here.
Make your closets a reason to buy your home
This gorgeous closet may be completely unrealistic for many people. I know that I personally couldn’t live like this. Let’s face it. There are only about six shirts seven jackets, and seven pairs of pants/skirts hung in this. That’s only a week’s worth of clothes. I have more than that and wear it regularly. A beautifully organized closet doesn’t have to mean being unrealistic though.
Think about retail when organizing your closets
I tell my home sellers to think of their favorite retail stores (so long as they aren’t discount stores). What do stores like Dillards, Neiman Marcus, and Macy’s do to merchandise their goods?
1) Separate clothing by style for an organized closet. Group your clothing by similar style. Hang dresses together. Hang pants together. hang tank tops together, etc. Once they are grouped together they’ll automatically feel more organized.
2) Organize your closets by color. Once your clothing is grouped by clothing type, group it by color. In retail we call this color blocking. I’ll never forget my retail beginnings as a 16 year old working at Lerners. Every night, I had to organize the clearance racks by color, then size. The fact is that even a hodge podge rack of different styles and sizes looks better once it is color blocked.
3) Use the same hangers throughout your closet. Not to sound like Mommy Dearest, but NO MORE WIRE HANGERS! I don’t care that they are free from the dry cleaners. Get them out of your closet when you are selling. If your home does not have a luxury price tag, then you can get away with white plastic hangers throughout your closet. If your home does have a luxury price tag, then invest in wooden or velvet slimline hangers. Either way, make sure they are all the same – on both his and her side of the closet. You’ll be shocked at what a difference this makes.
4) Nothing should be on the floor of your closet. Maybe you can get away with shoes on the floor, if they are really organized, but the truth is that if you invest in shoe racks to organize them, you’ll instantly gain equity in buyer’s eyes – even though you are taking them with you. Seriously… I’m not kidding.
No matter what, get those boxes off the floor. When selling your home, closets are not the right place for storage.
5) Organize loose items in bins, baskets and boxes. Don’t leave rows of folded t-shirts and sweaters. Go spend $50 on bins, baskets, or boxes and watch how much more organized the space suddenly looks. Sure, it’s a little bit more work to get ready in the morning because you can’t instantly find your favorite Old Navy t-shirt but it’s OK. Your home will sell faster and for more money because of it.
So now you know what your home might be telling buyers and you know how to make these subliminal messages work for you rather than against you. What’s great, is that you don’t have to wait until you are selling to put some of these into action. Try it and I’ll bet you find that you actually love your closet more…. maybe you really can live like Oprah in your own home.