When you decide to sell your home you face an interesting dilemma. You have to put yourself into the shoes of a prospective buyer and realize that what looks fantastic to you may look terrible to the person walking through your home with a critical eye. And as we've all heard, the "psychology" of first impressions can clinch the sale or cause the prospective buyer to walk out and move on to the next house. Something as seemingly trivial as those pink curtains in your dining room can colour the prospective buyer's entire outlook.
Many Real Estate Agents are savvy to these subtleties, of course, and should you use the services of an Agent, you'll want to take his or her advice to heart without becoming defensive about your decorating preferences.
We also always hear about the "curb appeal" of homes, and while that's critical, the inside is what sells your property. Your goal should be to neutralize your home. You have no idea what the decorating tastes of your prospective buyers will be; therefore, you've got to tone down the interior of your home to make it applicable and agreeable to nearly any taste. For all you know, your prospective buyers could own a velvet green sofa. As they walk into your living room and spots those Pepto Bismol-pink walls, they'll either immediately dismiss the house as a possibility, or they begin to become discouraged as they envision all of the work that has to be done before move-in (such as painting) in order to make the interior more compatible with their furniture and general decorating preferences.
Paint those walls white or some other soft neutral shade, on the other hand, and that velvet green sofa will fit in just fine. Now they want to see more, and you've improved your chances of a sale.
Part of "neutralizing" is cleaning. Your prospective buyers won't be able to envision their belongings in your home if they can't see the floor. So you've got to clean it ruthlessly. Have the carpets professionally cleaned, even though it might be a challenge to find such a company in Trinidad and Tobago. Throw away as much clutter as you can, clear off your shelves and organize your closets. Take as much out as you can (now is the perfect time to sell all your stuff on e-bay, or hold a garage sale).
Want proof? Imagine your desk at work, covered in paper. It looks like a hurricane just ripped through the room. Is that a room you want to enter, kick back and stay a while?
The same principle applies in your home ... only the stakes are higher. So create as much breathing room as possible, and clear as many objects out of the way as you can. If you own any accessories that might require an acquired taste, you may want to store those away temporarily. With an upcoming move, you needed to throw things away, anyway. Now is the perfect time to do it. Remind yourself that you're helping your chances of a sale ... and you're getting rid of clutter that would detract from your new home. In short, simplicity eliminates stress for buyers and sellers.
Take a look at your floors. Is your carpet a limiting shade? Is it bright? Stained? Faded or just plain ugly? Are there any cracked or damaged tiles? Of course you don't want to go through the expense of replacing carpeting, or re-tiling your entire floor, but clean it well, and/or try to replace the damaged tiles, and move your furniture around if you want to distract your prospective buyers from worn areas. Place a floor rug or two in your living room or kitchen area. Clean and wax your linoleum. You may not love the patterns on the tiles, and your prospective buyers may not, either, but if you keep things clean and take pride in your home's presentation, chances are much greater that buyers will be willing to overlook their differences in opinion on flooring shades and design.
You'll also want to take a good, hard look at your window treatments (curtains, drapes, blinds, etc). Homeowners are often so preoccupied with their busy schedules ... especially when a move is imminent ... that they forget to notice that their window treatments are extremely outdated. This might seem to be a subtle detail, but it's a crucial one. Neutral, once again, is the rule of the game here.
Even if your budget doesn't afford anything fancy, you can find or make relatively inexpensive, yet pleasing window treatments (simple curtains, draperies, even balloon shades). If you already have blinds or wooden shades on your windows that provide privacy, this is a plus (as are window coverings that block or absorb excessive sunlight and heat, especially in the tropics). Your buyer won't have to invest in window treatments, which represent a considerable expense. If, however, your existing blinds are outdated (for example, Venetian blinds) or bent, remove them and replace them with an inexpensive yet tasteful option.
Although making these modifications to your home might seem to be a bit of a headache, you'll be rewarded with a buyer in considerably less time than you would have otherwise. You may even get more for your home than you expected. If, during this process, you have trouble placing yourself into the shoes of buyers you've never met, consider the details that made you fall in love with the home to which you're preparing to move. Chances are good that it wasn't Pepto Bismol-pink walls or magenta carpeting that sold you. It was probably your ability to envision your own furniture, your possessions and your family within a seemingly compatible, neutral environment.