How important are clean closets?

LoriFLAAugust 12, 2012

Long time reader, first time poster.

Getting house ready to put on market. Husband I have been decluttering, cleaning, painting, etc. Husband thinks we will be ready to call our realtor to list this Thursday. I think that's crazy. We are selling 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1720 square feet in 32119 zip code. House built in 1998. We are moving to next town over for better schools. I am nervous about putting house on market now because allegedly this is a slow time because kids going back to school.

I am sure I will have more questions as the process moves along. My question right now is: How important are closets, pantry, inside of cabinets? Of course I will, and have, purged and organized closets but should they be empty? What is the best scenario? We will be showing the house while we are living here. I have a few photos of my current closet and pantry situation. Is this okay or would you remove more stuff? Thanks so much.

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Another pic of pantry.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 3:53PM
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I think it looks okay. Our spare bedroom closet looks sort of like this. I decluttered and boxed rarely used things up as best as I could, but there were things I still use and need on a daily basis that I had to put somewhere. I tried to look at each drawer/cabinet/closet and pare it down to about half to make it appear more spacious. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 3:54PM
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I think the amount of stuff you have in the closet and pantry is fine.

You still have to live in the house until it sells, so you need to have food. And you still need to have some of your things around.

Frankly, I'd be suspicious of completely empty closets, because I know people need their things and a) I'd be wondering where those things were and b) very few people can have more than one completely empty closet, so I'd just be wondering why all the closets were empty, instead of focusing on the rest of the house.

Actually, I think the first closet picture is good. It says that here's plenty of room for storing gift wrap and board games, and there's still space for the kids to hang up their coats and even room for their school backpacks.

You don't want closets and cabinets crammed full of stuff, but they should have some stuff in them. You want buyers to see that there is plenty of room for their food, their dishes and pots and pans and their clothing. You do this by having some of these things in the closets and cabinets. Just not by having stuffed full closets and cabinets.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Thanks for replies so far. Glad they look okay. I will organize them even further (especially pantry) when it actually goes on market. You should see my master closet. So much to do, so little time.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:20PM
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I think overall they look good. If you have the money, I would buy a few matching plastic or wicker boxes/bins for things like the rolls of ribbon in the first picture and the aluminum foil/plastic wrap/sandwich bags in the second picture. That and a little organization and the closets will look great.

I sort of staged my closets when I was selling. I hid the lesser name brand clothes and put my nicer clothes on hangers. Normally, I have a mismatch of colored hangers, but I made sure that during the sale I only used the white hangers so everything looked uniform. That may be overkill for some people, but it looked really nice.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 5:16PM
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I agree with the above poster. My first thought was that there isn't a lot of stuff, but it could be better organized. It looks like you just emptied it out, which you did of course, and kind of looks off in some way. It's not the amount of stuff but the organization.

I was also going to suggest some smart plastic bins for the ribbon and other odds and ends and some dollar store hangers. My master closet is a mess, but it looks good better because I invested in some wood hangars from Lowe's. Dollar stores usually have the plastic ones.

One more suggestion, especially for the pantry, is to look for some plastic shelf liners made for wire shelving. I also just saw these ideas:

I know wire shelves are standard in many homes these days, but covering them makes it look like you've put extra effort into your home. It's really the subtle things some times that make your home stand out.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 7:17PM
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I think they are cleared out enough, but need to be staged. You want to leave no stone unturned. Like items should be placed together, label out. Wicker baskets for loose items couldn't hurt. It may seem overkill but in this market it's the little things that could put your property over the edge.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Thank you so much. Thanks for the tip on the shelf liner. I will do that and the wicker baskets. Love the pic of the staged pantry. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 9:32PM
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Hi LoriFLA. Welcome to "Putting House on Market Chaos Zone" :-)

My DH estimated having the house ready by 30 June, when he retired on 31 May. Little did he know! He was out to sea every time we did a duty station transfer...

Right now everything, and I do mean everything, is out of all closets. What we're not using has been packed & put in storage. We've gone though round one & round two already of "what are we really not using & probably won't until the next house" stage. I'm figuring we'll have round three tomorrow. Getting my boxing gloves polished for this one LOL

This is my first time selling a house. Just done a lot of moving. One place we did "show" for the owners before moving. So, I'm using a few of the tricks from that experience.

Definitely get some pretty woven baskets to keep things like plastic wrap/tin foil/wax paper boxes corralled. I found a nice selection at "Dollar Store". They also had small & medium sized square baskets :-) Those are great for storing spice bottles/tins/packets. And...those stick packets of tea & lemon DH loves to have a dozen different flavours open.

Depending on the age(s) of your children, get them involved, too. They are very creative & uncluttered with different ways of approaching things. When my daughter was little, she discovered the perfect place for all of her stuffed animals: the dog's kennel. She'd gather everything up, put it into the kennel and put a tablecloth on top. A couple of times she put a "vanity tray" on it, complete with brush, comb, mirror, and a bottle of baby powder.

From what I've seen doing Open Houses in our market, most people barely even clean, much less unstuff closets. Yesterday's tour was...interesting... If you have adult toys, please don't stuff them into a closet precariously perched on a very full upper shelf. o_O

(I found it hysterically funny. The showing agent did NOT.)

Oh! Did you know refrigerators, stoves & dishwashers are like closets? I didn't. At this Open House the showing agent suggested to a couple they "ignore the dirty pots & pans in the oven". Another buyer's agent quickly closed the refrigerator as a noxious wafting overcame her. I was curious about the dishwasher but DH had a death grip on me after the bedroom closet incident.

Gee, hope it doesn't cause visitors here to wonder about empty closets. It's just DH & I now rattling around. Retiring & downsizing on our part.

LoriFLA, your closets really do look spacious and open. For a bit of comic relief, go to some Open Houses... or make a few appointments to visit some on the market. At least do some virtual tours of properties available in your area. Then step back, breathe a sigh of relief, and take a bow. You're head & shoulders above the crowd.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 10:22PM
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One of my 'cheaters' for living in my house and showing was to have big size tubs with the lids that people use for storing seasonal clothes, etc. I kept the nicer stuff out on the shelves, but I kept the less nice things in the tubs. I kept all of this out in the garage with other moving boxes. I had access to things I didn't necessarily want on display. Since you are moving, people expect to see stacks of boxes. The kids had extra play clothes and I had clothes for wearing around the house. I was able to keep them in a handy, but inconspicuous spot.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 12:06AM
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I see closets as pretty darn important to buyers, and yours look fine in my opinion.

I've used closets in houses I've sold to emphasize features the home has. When we sold a house in the country that had a small garden including blueberry bushes and trellised raspberries, I staged the pantry with a generous stash of homemade pickles and jams. I know the woman who bought it was thinking, "This is what I'm going to be able to do when I live here."

When my daughter sold her home that had a community pool down the street, we staged the coat closet with the gear she would take to the pool, plus some the sports equipment they used in the big back yard.

Buyers look everywhere. It doesn't hurt to have some gourmet foods in the pantry or fridge, and some stylish hatboxs (hiding "stuff") on that top closet shelf.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 2:40AM
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Hi AdellaB, that's a wonderful idea about the big size tubs. I've already packed dress suits & office-appropriate clothing. Every day wear has been a bit challenging.

LoriFLA, have you seen the flat rolling bins designed to go under beds? Think I'm going to get a couple of those :-) Need more storage bins anyway. Since we're putting everything into storage & doing a cross-country relo, we've been using plastic ones.

PinkOveralls, I've visited your Blog :-) found it when searching staging ideas. Love your tip on using a screen in a five-gallon bucket for painting and keeping old carpeting for paint runners. Back on-topic of closets... I've been pondering how to artfully arrange dog walking accoutrements ;-) and hadn't thought of staging it as a neighbourhood plus. Our subdivision only has playground, tennis & b'ball courts, and picnic area (no pool) and this has given me a couple of ideas, too.

GaOnMyMind, thanks for the pantry pic. Finished staging the critter food pantry this morning. Now all of the tins, boxes, bags, and bones are arranged. I know everyone says to put away dishes, leads, litty-boxes and get the critters out of the house when showing. Looking for a decorative bin to keep kitty litty in, too!

LoriFLA, glad you started this thread. Maybe we can keep each other going and share a giggle or two or three =).

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 7:24AM
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I'm loving the suggestions and comments. I'll post after photos.

The food in my pantry is definitely low-brow with the VandeKamp baked beans and Campbell's soup. haha. I'll have to get some Carr's crackers and capers or something. ;-) My house is kinda low-brow. It is not old. It was built 1998 but just your basic zero personality, zero architecture Florida construction. It is solidly built though. The builder has a good reputation. I think this is going to be a starter home for somebody, or a downsize for retirees. I live in a FL beach community. (Not on actual beachside but very close. )

Love the idea of under the bed storage. I do not own any. I think I had one in the past. Don't have a clue where it is. They would be great for the trophies and the tchotkes my kids want to keep in their rooms but I don't want to show.

I love my house and I could stay here for the rest of my life if I could. I always wanted to "upgrade" but the older I get the more content I am with my house. I am kind of sentimental about this house. I know I need to turn that off and look forward. I'm turning 40 next month, and we would have it paid off in three years. When I bought this house before kids I wasn't thinking about middle school. Now that it is time for my son to enter middle school (6th grade in our county) I am concerned about his zoned school. We applied for a variance, was denied, and appealed twice. Our appeal process is exhausted. We were denied and there is nothing we can do about it. The other two middle schools are crowded and they aren't approving any variances. So, now I am in a situation where I have waited until the last minute. Kid will have to go to "bad" middle school until we sell and find something in new zone. I'm not too worried about the "bad" middle school. I think he will be fine until we move and he would be fine if he had to stay there all three years, just not ideal. I have an elementary aged son as well. The move will allow both of them to attend a better middle school and a better high school. I also worry about our new house that we will be buying. I at least want it to be a parallel move or an upgrade. I do not want to downgrade, but beggars can't be choosers I guess. The town we want to live in is more expensive.

The stress of it all. I go from being completely overwhelmed with chest pain to shutdown mode where I do nothing. I am not an anxious person in the least but this is stressful.

At first my husband did not want to rent a storage unit. He wanted to put all of our stuff in my mother-in-laws home who lives up the street. They are up north and will return in late October/early November. I finally have convinced him that we need to rent a storage unit. He thinks we will have our house sold by then, and when the inlaws arrive home, our stuff will be gone. I am more realistic. It could be on market for 6 months, or longer. I do not want to move my stuff multiple times and I sure as heck don't want it in my inlaws house when they get home.

This is just the beginning. I hope this process goes as smoothly as possible.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Hi LoriFLA *\0/* Remember to get a "climate controlled" storage unit. You know as well as I do unconteolled humidity & heat will ruin furniture, photos, books, clothing, etc. That's why I insisted on it when DH & I decided to go that route. Although here in Va. it's not quite as humid, we do stay around 57-60/percent, with spates of 80-90/percent.

Is there a Magnet School in your precinct? One where #1DS could transfer this school year? I know some Magnet Schools are lottery only, so this may not be an option. Is it the curriculum or the environment that is "bad"? Maybe use the "bad" school as a way to leach life-long-lessons in making "chicken **** into chicken salad" LOL.

Hmmm, have you thought of marketing & promoting your property towards the Snow Birds? What local amenities would appeal to retirees? Beach (check), fishing (check), parks (???), proximity to shopping (???), other retiree/Snow Birds (check), single-level living (???), low maintenance exterior (???), tennis/golf (???). September/October/November can be excellent months for this market, as can January/February.

You may be looking at perfect timing if you go this route rather than the more trad "family/school" route. Maybe you can chat with a REA who specialises in reloRetirees and Snow Birds. Who knows, your in-laws may even know of someone, or someone who knows someone...

Personally, as a reloRetiree, I would prefer a move-in ready property. The plethora of short sale and foreclosures would not fall into this category in most instances. Too much work :-) You are presenting a prime house to make a new home, great for those Norman Rockwell Holiday visits (with extra bedrooms), take the grandchildren to Busch Gardens Tampa, Cape Caneveral (sp?), Wikiwatchi to see the Mermaids. Spend romantic sunset evenings strolling the soft sugar sand beaches. Feel the exhilaration of reeling-in that giant flounder and grilling it at the pier. Delight in a day at Sunken Gardens. And for the thrill seekers: Go to the Dogs and Ponies.

Take some time off just for yourself. Get out of the house for one whole day. Even if all you do is sit in the Library ;-) You only have so many quarters to keep the meter running each day. Spend them wisely. My favourite, just me, girly girl away day is getting a manicure and sitting in the park (under the guise of letting the polish dry...)

Oh! I found the flat rolling bins at WalMart and HomeDepot. They're also great for packing framed artwork.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Locrian, thanks so much for the support and encouragement -- and ideas!

My husband and I rented a climate controlled unit today! 10 x 10, 76 degrees continuous, 60 dollars per month for first three. Thought that was a good deal.

Our realtor is a casual friend who I went to school with and also lives in our neighborhood. She specializes in "country club living". Our neighborhood is a small, nice, subdivision and has no amenities but I am confident she may be able to bring in some clients who are moving to this area to retire. Our neighborhood is half retirees. It's quiet. Good point that this may be a good time for snowbirds/couples without children, etc. to buy.

My neighborhood is centrally located, on a very quiet road, there are sidewalks everywhere. The yards are big (might turn off people who want low-maintenance), we have a good homeowners association and the fee is super affordable. We are five minute drive to beach. House is definitely move in ready. We are not leaving one ding in this house. We are going to price right so hopefully it will get sold! I love your marketing approach. :-) Thanks again for advice. We made an appointment today with our realtor for Monday to list. It's crunch time!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Hi LoriFLA! Country club living is a good description ;-) Gators make interesting water hazards, and those fire ant mounds are...LOL Your REA friend will probably have even more turns-of-phrase, too. I loved "waterfront property" for ones looking out on a retention pond.

Wow! That's a fantastic price for a 10x10 CC unit. We're renting the same size CC at 179. Not going to complain as it's about 1-mile from the house...easy on the pocketbook for gas. And, it's nice bucking boxes into AC when hot & humid outside.

I lived in the Tampa Bay area almost 10-years ;-) Part of my job was writing ad copy for ambulatory & assisted living facilities. Had fun with an "active life style with Alzheimer's units" assignment. Met some of the most fascinating residents!

Big yards might just be a plus. Plenty of space for al fresco dining, butterfly & humming bird gardening, croquet & badmitten lawns, and host of other uses. If your HOA allows someone might even naturalize with native plants, walking paths, and bowers.

Remember even if your immediate sub-division doesn't have specific amenities, the neighbourhood as a whole does. There's a Publix on every corner *huge grin*. Your REA probably knows of hidden gems. Bet you do too! Like the good eats...pizzeria, deli, Chinese, seafood, BBQ.

I'm putting together a "Welcome Aborad" packet with a list of some of our favourite places and menus. Plus customer courtesy cards for local grocery stores, pharmacies, and what-not. Even recommendations for the local barber shop, hair salon, nail salon, veterinarian. Speaking of vet, gotta walk & feed the chocolate beastie. I'll prattle on later as I'm bushwhacked from cleaning window tracks & hung up my gear for the day :-)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 3:32PM
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Most important is 100% fixed and sparkling clean ... don't bother staging a pantry unless you include scrubbing and painting it in the staging process.

I know the woman who bought it was thinking, "This is what I'm going to be able to do when I live here." Yes, a small amount oa "aspirstional staging" might help.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 10:20PM
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These are really good suggestions.

Funny about staging with "up-market" goods.
One house we almost bought had a mink coat hanging in the front coat closet.
It made me think if I live here I'd have to wear mink! LOL! :)

Saved this photo from a blog to remind me to use upmarket goods when staging a bathroom.

(What are the rocks for anyway???)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Love reading all of these suggestions and pictures. Cleaned out medicine cabinet (recessed, mirror front) in guest bathroom. Must replace son's wart remover with Kiehl's, Chanel, or something. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 10:02AM
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