The Short List: Denise Butchko on the Unexpected – But Considerable – Value of Custom Storage Spaces

by Chicago Agent


Denise Butchko is the owner of Butchko & Company

Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked to Denise Butchko, the owner of Butchko & Company, about the unexpected value of custom storage spaces.

If you are among the majority of people who have “stuff,” and your clients have lots of “stuff,” here are some insights on the increased value of having places to store it.

But let me first ask you a question: Have you ever shown a property and had the client say, “It’s not for me. There are too many closets”?

I’m guessing not.

I say that closets are the most important space in the house. Others say the kitchen. But think about it – you can go entire day without cooking, but you DO have to get dressed (if you’re planning to leave the house).

Closets are not just a “Carrie Bradshaw thing.” We all want closet and storage space. But what’s the value? Here are the ways:

9. Let’s say you’ve got a new construction condo with empty, dry-walled closet space. If you invest $5,000 in custom closets and live in your home with those closets for five years, you’ll easily be able to ask at least $5,000 more for your home than a comp that just has a rod and shelf in all the closets. That’s a 100 percent ROI.

8. That makes it one of the best investments EVER. People often ask me if can they take the closet with them when they sell. My answer is that no buyer would allow it. Customized storage space totally sells homes. People see something beyond a rod and shelf and they lose their minds, visualizing their shoe collection in the space (that’s the dream come true part). City dwellers as well as people moving from suburbs to city need places to “stash” things. Closets are the best place to do that.

7. You will also have enjoyed those closets so much that you will require having the closets in your next home customized (so they’re a bit like “crack” in that way – there’s no going back). So a good closet designer can be one of the most valuable members of your team.

6. And custom closets allow for just that – customizability. Things can be adjusted so they work for the client in terms of varying shelf heights for shoes or rod heights for hanging garments. Accessories like valet rails and tie and belt racks, as well as hampers and jewelry drawers also allow for personalization. No one maximizes space better than a good closet designer.

5. Another idea is that a really qualified closet designer can look at the space in rooms, hallways and alcoves and design custom storage for it. So, if a listing is shy on closet space (let’s say it’s in a vintage building with what I like to call “closette’s”), we can make suggestions on ways to increase storage capacity that’s not physically located within a closet.

4. We can also look at blue prints and make suggestions prior to construction. Sometimes moving a wall 12” makes a big difference in storage capacity without really affecting space or design. And things like changing a door swing or putting the light switch in a different location can also dramatically impact the amount of storage.

3. White melamine closets that consist of hanging and shelves average around $100 – $150 per linear foot. So if you have an 8 foot closet, the cost should be around a thousand bucks.

2. Wood closets (or wall units) amp up the quality, the options and the price, coming in at around $1000 per linear foot. Of course, features and materials affect price, but nothing will net you a better return.

1. So, while customized closets are harder to photograph because the space is typically smaller than a living room or kitchen (but not always!), if a home has custom closets, it should be mentioned as a selling feature in the listing because they are so valuable.

The next time you’re doing a showing, don’t hesitate to suggest customizing the closets. Share with your clients the investment value, as well as the time value of having your things organized and easily accessible. You’ll look as smart as Fredrik Ecklund from “Million Dollar Listing NY.”

Denise Butchko is the owner of Butchko & Company and a closet design consultant/trainer/author. She partners with designers and architects to create custom storage solutions, which has evolved into teaching kitchen & bath designers and cabinetmakers how to add closet design to their capabilities as a revenue stream. Also, since 2007, Denise has been teaching social media in the A & D communities.

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