Add Storage Space to Speed Home Sales

When it comes to residential real estate, storage space sells. No matter the age or style of property, prospective buyers check every closet, scope out the garage and generally look for bonus space where they can stash the stuff of everyday living.

If you're considering putting your home on the market, plan to expand storage space. You'll want to show existing organization systems to their best advantage, and could be pleasantly surprised by hidden storage space waiting to be discovered throughout your home.

How do you find it?

"You really need to take a look around your house at the places where there is nothing, in terms of storage," says Lisa Lennard, vice president of technology for California Closets. "If you have an alcove in a bedroom or a corner of a dining room that's not being used, or anything along those lines, you can make the most out of those spaces by just adding a little bit of cabinetry."

Here are the top five places to add storage space, which are hiding in plain sight and just waiting for transformation.


1. Under and along stairs

The areas around staircases make great storage spaces. Whether the staircase is an open or closed style, the space underneath can become a new home for cabinetry, open shelving or even a built-in desk serving as a mini-office or homework station. The vast wall space adjacent to the treads and risers of a staircase can also be fitted with stylish cubbies and shelves to hold books, display collections and more.

Search Homes for Sale Find a local expert contractor who has been pre-screened by ServiceMagic Another great staircase storage space idea comes from Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch, co-founders of the online organizing resource www.getbuttonedup.com. They suggest converting the bottom step into a storage drawer, an especially handy place to collect family footwear in a home with a no-shoes rule.


2. In the attic

Another top storage solution is right overhead, in your attic. If the structural style and details allow, an attic can be finished and transformed into a valuable bonus storage space with buyer appeal, and by building in great cabinetry or shelving it will have shoppers doing a double-take. An open closet for clothing and other hanging storage can make the most of otherwise dead storage space in an attic's nooks and corners. Adding a generous counter provides a work surface for hobbies with storage space underneath.


3. In the garage

Another potential storage space that people tend to overlook quite a bit is the garage. "I know a lot of people don't have very roomy garages," Lennard says, "but even if you have a tight fit with your car, there are cabinets that can be put up on the wall so that the front of your car slips right under them."

Smart wall systems, hooks and hangers can also create storage space for tools and gear. Other special storage features that pack buyer appeal can become a reality, too: Fit a wide, shallow drawer or narrow cupboard to hold rolls of wrapping paper, ribbon and trims, and ─ voila! ─ you have a gift-wrapping station to show off during the Realtor's open house.


4. In the basement

Whether finished or unfinished, a moisture-proofed basement can be a storage space bonanza. If your basement is unfinished, install generously proportioned open shelving that keeps stored items off the floor, and fit it with attractive snap-lidded plastic bins. A finished-basement living area is open to any storage-design interpretation, from attractive built-ins to shelves meant to showcase your favorite things.


5. Alcoves and corners

Get creative with the empty spaces found in living areas throughout your home. A clever cabinet or enclosed cocktail cart can add style to the corner of a dining area while keeping linens and serving pieces close at hand. Storage baskets can find a home under bench seating. And an alcove almost anywhere can become a sleek workstation or project zone with a few simple storage additions.

When it's time to list your home, be sure to mention all of the valuable storage spaces that you've created. Brand-name closet and organization systems are definite draws for buyers, and a super-organized garage will inspire oohs and aahs, both in photos and on the home tour. And speaking of the home tour, make sure all storage spaces are decluttered, clean and pristine, expressing the care that you've taken with your home while making space for the next owner's storage needs.

Tom Kraeutler is a home improvement expert for AOL Real Estate and host of "The Money Pit," a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program offering tips for homebuyers and sellers.

Trying to decide which home improvements fit your budget? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help, whether you're spending a lot or a little:

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