Q. Should I invest in off-site storage for my sports equipment and winter coats, to make my closets seem more spacious to potential buyers?
A. If you’re trying to sell your home in the warmer months and are short on storage space, it may be a good idea to stow items like ski gear elsewhere.
“Really crammed closets just make buyers suspicious and uncomfortable,” said Charles Summers, a vice president at Bellmarc Realty in Manhattan. “If you’re living like that, buyers automatically feel like it’s a reflection of the way they’re going to have to live.”
In fact, it’s as important to stage your closets as it is to stage the rest of your home. “You can have them normally filled with clothing and some stored items, but it should all look organized, and you should be able to see the walls, so the buyer can get a sense of the space,” Mr. Summers said. “The perfect closet completes their impression that it’s the perfect apartment.”
The idea is to avoid overstuffed storage areas like the closets in a Murray Hill apartment Mr. Summers recently tried to sell.
“It was an apartment that had really large closets,” he said. “But every time you opened the door, you were literally face-to-face with a wall of stuff that looked like it was booby-trapped to jump out at you — and sometimes it would.” Eventually, the apartment was taken off the market because it didn’t sell.
When deciding which items to move into a storage unit, Mr. Summers said, sports equipment and seasonal goods are usually the place to start: “Sports equipment takes up a lot of space, typically, so it’s a good thing to move.”
Jen M. R. Doman, owner of Get It Together, a New York company offering organizational services, had a different point of view. Sellers should think twice before spending money on a storage space, she said. “Getting a storage unit for any sort of closet possessions should be a last resort,” Ms. Doman said. “You should assess the monthly storage fee versus the value of what you’re storing. If you’re storing 12 soccer balls, but paying $100 a month, maybe you just want to replace the soccer balls later.” (Either that, or skip the payments and wait to see your stuff turn up on “Storage Wars.”)
As she pointed out, you’re going to have to sort through your belongings before you move, so you might as well do it now. “Since it has to be done anyway, you should go through the closets and donate or get rid of stuff you won’t need in the new house or apartment,” she said. That alone could make the closets look more spacious.
Mr. Summers offered one more piece of advice. “If it’s provocative in any way, take it out of your closet,” he said. “I’ve seen some interesting items stored in closets that make you regret opening the door.”