There are a lot of factors that can negatively impact the sale of your home. Using the wrong paint colors, neglecting curb appeal, and overpricing the home are just some of the many reasons why your house may not be selling – or the offers are lower than anticipated.
However, can your closets also play a role in making or breaking the sale of your home?
Closets Can Seal or Sink the Deal
Yes, according to Patrick Garrett, broker/owner at H & H Realty in Trussville, AL. Patrick Garrett, broker/owner at H & H Realty in Trussville, AL tells us closet space is one of the most common topics he discusses with homebuyers when they discuss what features are important. If a buyer sees a closet that is packed wall-to-wall, they may assume it is too small and not consider the fact that the seller might have more items than the buyer. If you are selling your house and lack storage space, it could scare buyers away,” says Garner. A cluttered closet is a major red flag for buyers. It could also be a sign that you don’t have the storage space to accommodate their belongings, even if this may not be the case. After all, we’re talking about a few square feet in a house that, on average, is 2,014 square feet according to the American Home Size Index.
However, Nancy Almodovar, CEO and founder of Nan and Company Properties in Houston, TX, warns against viewing this space as insignificant. Underestimate closets and you’ll be sorry! In the world of real estate, closet space is not just a storage, it’s a selling point,” she explains.
“Especially with luxury properties, potential buyers view large, organized closets as a symbol of a well-designed home.” In fact, Almodovar recommends thinking of your closets as mini showrooms. A well-lit, spacious and neatly organized wardrobe could make or break your home’s sale. This is why many buyers say that they “fell” in love with a house. This is not, for instance, the language used by investors when choosing stocks. However, there’s so much passion involved in choosing a home, and that’s why it’s important to understand the emotional cues that can elicit positive or negative reactions.
“One wouldn’t think that a sloppy closet would be able to make or break a deal, but you should consider the effect of a buyer’s subconscious,” explains Ellen Sykes, broker at Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York, NY. Closets are a Pro or Con for Buyers
At least, closets may be considered a pro or con by a buyer. Steven Gottlieb of Coldwell Banker Warburg, New York, NY, says that closets should not be the deciding factor in a sale, but they can contribute to an overall impression a seller already has. The presence of large, well-organized, custom-built wardrobes can make a buyer fall in love with the home. On the other hand, a small, cluttered, or disorganized closet can turn a buyer off. This feedback is often related to the fact that buyers feel their closets are too small or not functional. Although they can increase storage, Mary Barbrack says that having a large closet is a great selling point. “If they like the size, the layout, and the condition of the home, then, ‘Oh, there are five closets!’ or ‘A storage unit is included in the purchase’ is like getting a bonus.”
If your closet is less than impressive, there are steps that you can take to make it a positive (or at least a neutral) home feature. Garrett says that sellers don’t build new homes with more closet space. However, they can declutter and reorganize the existing ones to make them look better to potential buyers. “For example, if a seller has small closets, it is best to remove as many belongings as possible, so that the full potential and total amount of available space is clearly visible to the buyer.”
However, make sure that you’re not just moving the clutter from one area of the home to another part, since potential buyers tend to look everywhere. Garner recommends temporarily storing seasonal items off-site. The closet should have a harmonious look (no kitchen or cleaning supplies), uniform hangers, good lighting and, most importantly, negative space. He suggests leaving some shelves and hangers empty and that buyers should see the floor. “Also there should be nothing within 8 feet to 10 feet of the ceiling; these changes will allow buyers to imagine their own items in the space.”
Gottlieb agrees and says closets should be 60% full or less, and there should be nothing on the floor. When possible, he recommends taking out the inexpensive items, while keeping the luxurious ones. “In model homes, you’ll often see empty boxes from luxury brands on display in the empty closets.”
Barbrack advises sellers to organize items by color, shape, and size to help present the space as welcoming and uncluttered.
Since two of our other experts advised against having anything on the floor, we wondered what homeowners would do with their shoes. She says that shoes in good condition can be displayed. In addition, Barbrack suggests adding a lightly-fragranced candles or reeds in order to create a luxurious atmosphere. “It’s important to have lighting in most closets, and don’t forget to check the walls to see if they need a quick paint touch-up.”
Closets in New Builds
All of the above advice is for homeowners in existing homes. However, if you’re in the process of purchasing new construction, Jonathan Self, a licensed Compass real estate broker in Chicago, IL, says you’ll usually be able to negotiate and customize the closets.
“Know that the developer credit offered for your closet build might very well be only half of what you really need, so make sure you have an accurate idea of what you are getting.”
He recommends taking the closet credit off your purchase price and instead looking for a direct-to-consumer closet company of your own to save money. “This is exactly what your developer is doing, except they are the middleman charging you for it.” When you select a company, Self says they will come to the site, measure, and handle the installation.
“Now if you want a closet like Lenny Kravitz, that’s going to cost a lot of money, and if you want excellent quality hardwood, it’s going to cost you money.” So, you’d be better off having your carpenter/builder do the installation and negotiate that into the price.
“If you’re willing to give up the wood look, I recommend something like the Container Store’s Elfa system, which is durable and attractive without looking like a traditional closet.