What 5 Real Estate Agents Really Think About Converting Your Closet to an Office

published Apr 13, 2022
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The past two years have seen countless clever closet hacks. From offices (and more offices… and more offices) to nurseries to music studios to mudrooms, the multi-use closet is having a moment. If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of closet space, these brilliant reinventions are a great way to make the most of every square foot in your home. 

But what do the real estate agents think? If you go to sell, will your customized closet hack resonate with prospective buyers? Or are you better off with the extra closet? Five real estate agents shared their opinions on the matter and, surprisingly, the answer isn’t exactly an open-and-shut case.

Multi-use nooks are a win in small spaces.

Washington, D.C.-based Realtor John Coleman often works with clients who are short on space and eager to maximize every inch of their homes. “It can be fun to see how people get creative with small square footage we have to work with around here, and creating an office or a nursery out of a closet can be a cool idea,” he says. He explains that this can show flexibility in a space.

“Given that many people are still working from home, a prospective purchaser will either like that a home office has been created, or will recognize that converting the closet back into an actual closet is inexpensive,” adds Mary Hall Mayer, an agent at Coldwell Banker Warburg.

Only convert a closet if you already have ample closet space.

“You can never have too much storage space in your home,” says Kimberly Jay, a broker at Compass. She explains that buyers are always checking for closet space — and the more, the better. But if you do have both walk-in closets and additional closets (the dream, right?), and you don’t have an office, it could be a value-add to convert your space.

She explains, “This added ‘room’ will feel like an extra space to a buyer. While it’s difficult to quantify the dollar amount you would add by doing this, it certainly could help sell your home faster.”

Understandably, removing closets might make your home feel short on storage.

Karen Kostiw, an agent at Coldwell Banker Warburg, knows that closets are high on wish lists, coming in right after kitchens and bathrooms — and she hits on a conversation that may sound all too familiar to many couples. “When showing off the primary suite and only one closet exists, someone will state to their partner, ‘Well, you can use the closet in the other room.’”

She explains that closets add significant value, and repurposing one not only can reduce the property value, but it could be a burning red flag to potential purchasers that the home doesn’t have enough space, hence why you had to convert a nook.

Echoing this sentiment, Mihal Gartenberg, an agent at Coldwell Banker Warburg, says, “In a city environment, storage is critical and often more important than additional nooks and crannies that could be converted into office space. It isn’t necessarily true that a home will be worth more with closets, but it could have a better chance of selling.”

A conversion could be memorable… but that doesn’t translate to ROI.

“While I have seen many sellers convert closets into working spaces in order to add value to their home, it does not always result in a higher sales price,” says DJ Olhausen of Realty ONE Group Pacific.

That means the dream of hooking sellers with a bonus office or a charming tiny nursery simply won’t stand up to location, square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms and recent renovations. “Converting a closet may be a memorable feature that will stick inside the head of potential buyers or differentiate your house from the competition, but you may not see a return on investment from the project,” he says.

If you do make a change, try switching it back before you sell.

While some buyers may like seeing the flexibility of converted closets, sometimes it’s best to place it safe, and Coleman includes one caveat to his enthusiasm for a multi-use space. He says, “Similar to those who convert a small room into a closet in a rowhouse, you have to do what works best for your needs. But when you go to sell, it could be best to change it back.”