When you take a listing, you and your client are about to get pretty intimate with each other as you go through the process of selling their home. You might as well get down to the nitty gritty right now and open up those closed doors and take a peek inside; there might be more that needs to be done to get their home market ready than first meets the eye.
Truly interested buyers want to see all areas of a home, and that includes closets, cupboards and other nooks and crannies in a home. So when you take a listing, get behind your seller’s closed doors. As you are walking through the home to determine what needs to be done prior to putting the home on the market, open up the closets and cupboards and take a good look inside. If they are filled to the brim, disorganized, you can’t see the floor, or worse, something falls on your head, have a serious talk with your sellers about the value of storage space in a home. You’ll be doing them, and yourself, a favor.
Too many sellers assume that surface cleaning, staging the furniture, and sprucing up what you see on the outside is all that is required to get a home show ready. But clearing out the clothes closets, linen closets, kitchen and bathroom cupboards, even the garage storage areas is going to enhance how well a home shows. By having these areas neat and orderly, with the floor space clear and all hangers with space between them, it will demonstrate to the buyers that storage space for the home is ample.
On occasion, clearing out these parts of the home can help sellers discover old problem areas they might have forgotten. You just might spot stains from previous roof leaks that have been repaired. Oftentimes a room will be painted after the repair is made, but the closet is neglected because it is so full of stuff. Better to have all evidence of old repairs tended to prior to marketing the property rather than needing to explain the situation later. In a cautious market, you want buyers secure in their purchase and as small a thing as staging closets and cupboards may seem, it can make a difference between a closed Escrow and one that goes back on the market.
Open All the Right Doors
Get your listings started on the right track. Get behind those closed doors and talk about those dirty little secrets so your seller’s home shines above the competition-everywhere! Don’t let their crowded cupboards hit a buyer on the head with the wrong message. Ensure your listings say “Buy me!” from every nook and cranny available.
July 17, 2008 at 1:27 pm
Nickie – you have just brought up one of the very best arguements for hiring a stager. It isn’t always easy for a Realtor to get behind closed doors. It helps to have another expert on the scene to do the “dirty work” so to speak. 🙂
July 17, 2008 at 1:42 pm
I’m going through this right now on a listing we’re preparing where the homeowner doesn’t understand the value in a nice pantry. It’s warped, and stained and insists that it’s fine to just paint over- the garage is even worse. It’s as if folks just don’t get that people like new even when they say they don’t and its the underside of everything that is ignored that gets you in trouble later.
July 17, 2008 at 1:58 pm
Yes! This is why renting a storage space, a pod or a dumpster is important too…how many sellers clear the clutter from the rooms only to pack it in to the closets, garage or basement? It needs to get outta there and you need to make that very clear!!
Jennifer in Louisville
July 17, 2008 at 6:02 pm
The way I like to present it to sellers: a prospective buyer may be the biggest pig in the world – but, if they see a nice/orderly space with lots of room to spare, they will feel that if they buy THAT home, that all of a sudden they will become neat and orderly as well.
July 17, 2008 at 6:40 pm
One of the agents in our office was complaining about this exact thing today…except the seller INSISTED on showing off a closet full of clothes, shoe boxes etc…in the MLS pictures…to SHOW how much closet space there was. No matter what the stager OR the professional photographer said on this luxury home…the seller would not be dissuaded…
Wonder how long it will take to get a showing on that one, let alone sell it when all of the competing homes in an upscale neighborhood look NICE…grin
Richard Johnston, Burbank Real Estate
July 18, 2008 at 1:04 am
Out of all the years I’ve been in business, the only closets I’ve seen people open are the linen and bedroom. I’ve never seen a buyer open kitchen cabinet doors. Well… maybe the pantry door. You are definitely write about getting organized.
I’ve been in houses where everything looks nice and neat and when you open the master walk-in closet, you can’t walk in. In fact, things fall out. LOL… i’ve been there… no joke.
I guess the best way to approach that situation is ask the seller to place their belongings in a storage company until the home closes. Plus, that will help them get organized before the move making it easier for all.
Mack in Atlanta
July 18, 2008 at 5:36 am
I tell every seller that (look out here comes the big cliche) “They only get one chance to make a good first impression”. If it doesn’t look like the sellers belongs fit in the home, in the buyer’s mind their belongings won’t fit there either.
@ Jennifer in Louisville – I really like your pig analogy. I think I will be adding that one to my arsenal.
July 18, 2008 at 10:48 am
I’m keeping this post to use as ammo when I can’t get a seller to comprehend the importance. Say: Look. See, the staging expert says so. So DO IT!
July 18, 2008 at 1:12 pm
Every one of you bring up such excellent points!
Hi T! It really is easier to let the stager be “the bad guy” when it comes to talking about the seller’s private stuff. Homeowner’s accept the fact that the stager is there to get into those spaces and poke around and give suggestions, so it doesn’t feel like an invasion of privacy. Most homeowner’s actually get excited once they get going and the purge escalates. They almost always end up saying, “I wish I had done this a long time ago!”
You’re right Benn, any buyer who loves to cook and entertain is going to check out the pantry. Definitely, showing off the space in there is a plus. If it looks nasty in there, it is not very appetizing. Small details make a big difference in how a home is perceived.
Hi Lisa. It is tempting to fill up closets with storage items, but you’re right; better to store off site until the home is sold. Every square foot is valuable while the home is on the market.
Hi Jennifer, Yep, neat by proxy. Can my filing be taken care of that way? Hmmm….
Hi there Eric! Yeah, it’s tough to make a closet look good enough for the MLS, especially one with filled with clothes and shoes in it. Ah well… what are you going to do? You’ve given them all the right information, they just have to choose to take your advice – or not.
Hey Richard, sadly, things falling out of closets and bonking buyers on the head is not a rare experience. You’re right, pre-packing is a great way to approach sellers about the subject.
Mack-you nailed it!
Hi Vicki- 🙂 Go get ’em!
July 19, 2008 at 7:39 am
I tell my sellers to pack everything they don’t need short term, reminding them, they are moving anyway – so it will have to be packed, might as well do it upfront.
I do allow my stager to be the bad guy! She does it so well!