By Molly Hammond, Storage.com

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To be successful in real estate, you need more than a big smile and the ability to sell. You need well-kept files, signage to direct potential homebuyers to an open house, and home décor to makeover a house for showings, all of which can take up a lot of space. Unfortunately, many real estate offices don’t have the space to store all of these items.

Take it from Chris Speicher of The Speicher Group in Olney, Md., who says that his office has “boxes and boxes of files that need a safe, secure place to be stored.” In states like Maryland, real estate agents are required to keep closed files for several years, which means Speicher can’t just throw his records into the dumpster. So where does that leave Speicher and other real estate agents like him who need a place for their real estate materials?

Two words: Self storage.

The idea of renting an entire storage unit just for the paraphernalia of your job may sound like it’s a bit much, but when you really consider the ways self storage can be used by realtors, it’s the perfect solution! File storage, sign storage, home décor storage—you name it, and self storage can help you with it.

Store Files Off-Site

A number of industries use self storage to keep their offices free of filing cabinets.

Nora Ashcraft Muccino, manager at Ashcraft Self Storage & Truck Rental in Monongahela, Penn., sings the praises of file storage for the real estate community. With close monitoring and climate-controlled storage, it’s easy for real estate agents to protect important documents over the years—and keep them out of the way, of course! It’s as simple as determining which files are ready to be stored and finding a nearby facility with a climate-controlled unit (which protects paper from damage by humidity).

A smaller storage unit, such as a 5×5, will usually do for a handful of file cabinets or plastic storage containers and should be able to accommodate other items, like signage, as well.

Keep Signs and Other Hardware in a Unit

Between signs, banners, and brochures, there are tons of little accessories that real estate agents need to promote their brand and compete with other realtors in the area. “The list is endless,” adds Speicher, “and signage takes up the most space.”

There are the ubiquitous “For Sale” signs to keep along with personalized riders (the signs that go on top or bottom of “For Sale” signs that include contact information and the status of the property) and directional signs that are meant to drive traffic toward a home.

For a single open house, Speicher says an agent typically needs 20-30 directional signs alone. “That’s a lot of signs and associated hardware.” He notes that there are lock boxes to hold keys, brochures, and banners for events as well. With so much stuff to keep on-hand, signage can easily get dirty or damaged. Think about it—If you were driving around looking for homes, how likely would you be to follow a sign that’s rusted and dusty?

By renting a unit on your own—or even with other agents in your office—you can keep all of this signage and hardware in one organized and accessible place. Since the majority of these signs are fairly sturdy, as they’re intended to be outside for extended periods of time, the storage space doesn’t have to be gigantic. A 5×5 or 5×10 unit would certainly do the trick.

Another thing to keep in mind, too, is how often you want to access your signage, as facilities vary in their accessibility. Some will have 24-hour access while others will have traditional business hours. If you think you’ll need to get into your storage unit early in the morning on the weekend, you might want to get a facility that works around your schedule so you’re not late to a showing.

Add or Remove Furniture for Home Showings

An open house is all about selling people on the potential of a home. If a house is too full of the current owner’s furniture, it can appear cramped rather than cozy.

“By taking what doesn’t fit out of the home in advance and placing it in a self storage unit…sellers are able to ‘stage’ the home in a manner where the home becomes appealing to the prospective buyer,” says Muccino.

On the other hand, if a house is too bare, it doesn’t sell potential buyers on the idea of a cozy home. Again, self storage can help. Real estate agents who keep additional furniture or home décor just for showings can use a storage unit to hold these items somewhere other than their offices or personal homes. Then, when it’s time to prep a home for a showing, all they have to do is swing by, pick up the items, and get decorating!

A real estate agent using self storage can offer support to their clients looking to purchase a home as well. “Often times, notice of termination is given to the landlord before the sale is finalized on the new home,” Muccino says. In this situation, a real estate agent can refer a storage unit to the seller during the transition period, which takes real estate service to the next level. Just think about those good reviews from former clients…

Additionally, some storage facilities—like the one Muccino manages—are looking to forge relationships with area realtors. “We have a referral program that offers discounts to realtors [who] bring business to us and discounts to the business they bring.” In other words, everybody wins!

Since real estate is built upon the concept of location, location, location, it shouldn’t require a second thought that a storage location can take the hassle out of real estate work. “The pride that you take in your organization should be enough of a reason for you to want to utilize everything self storage has to offer,” Speicher says.

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Molly Hammond is a member of the content team at Storage.com. An equal opportunity storage enthusiast, Molly writes about everything, from where to store your extra boat to turning your storage unit into a custom cosplay workshop. When she’s not learning about the evils of plastic bags for clothing storage, she’s eating french fries, watching HBO, and wishing for snow.