Home Guru

Choosing the Right Colors to Bump Up a House’s Sale Price

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

We are part of The Trust Project

By Bill Primavera

It occurs to me as I sit within my off-white four walls that I’ve spent many, many years living in an off-white environment. That’s true both at home, especially when I’ve rented, and at work, where it seems to be the universal color for offices.

Why? I suppose because it’s a safe bet.

I remember that when I rented there always was a clause in the lease that the white or off-white walls had to remain that color, or if modified or wall papered, had to be restored to the original color before vacating. So, I’ve spent many years leaving in a sea of white.

I remember that when I first moved to my home in Trump Park where all the rooms – great room, dining room, kitchen, three bathrooms and two bedrooms – were painted off-white, I was visited by a friend, who also happens to be a house painter, who exclaimed, “This place needs some color!”

At first, I had to disagree with his assessment, but then I started thinking about the possibility of a pale green for the bedroom. Just as all the apartments I ever rented in New York City that were painted off-white, my current living environment is totally one color, off-white, and I intended to keep it that way. This unicolor approach expands the space and serves as a backdrop for all the paintings and prints assembled from a lifetime of collecting.

But I remember a study about color done some time ago by Zillow that blew me away. It demonstrated how a fresh coat of paint in the right color – inside or out – may help sell a home for more money.

According to the analysis, homes with walls painted in shades of blue or light gray may sell for as much as a $5,400 premium. Well, if you are about to sell your home, that certainly is something to think about, isn’t it?

As a realtor, I’ve always been instructed to advise seller clients to neutralize colors as much as possible, but now I’m not so sure. For instance, if your bathroom is currently painted anything but blue, think again. Homes with blue bathrooms, often found in hues of powder blue or light periwinkle, sold for $5,440 more than expected, the highest sales premium of all colors analyzed.

Zillow’s paint color analysis looked at more than 32,000 photos from homes sold around the country to see how certain paint colors impacted their average sale price when compared to similar homes with white walls.

A home’s exterior color may also have an impact on its sale price. Homes painted in “greige,” a mix of light gray and beige, sold for $3,496 more than similar homes painted in a medium brown or with tan.

Personally speaking, the colonial I sold a while back was painted “greige” for more than 40 years, but I have no way of calculating how its color might have influenced the final sales price. Because the last paint job was such a good one, it lasted for more than 15 years and, during that time, the color had oxidized to the point where it appeared to be a pale green, which for all we know may have had a negative effect on the sales price.

Just recently I passed that home and was delighted to find that it had been painted a bright yellow, something I never would have considered, but found most becoming.

The Zillow study further showed that homes with front doors painted in shades of dark navy blue to slate gray sold for $1,514 more.

Readers of this column would know that for years I’ve been advocating for use of burgundy on front doors, based on feng shui considerations. So, who or what are you going to believe?

Some colors may actually deter buyers. According to the study, homes with darker, more style-specific walls like terracotta dining rooms sold for $2,031 less than expected. However, a lack of color may have the biggest negative impact as homes with white bathrooms sold for an average of $4,035 below similar homes.

A contemporary home that I sold some years ago had a wonderful flow from living room to dining room with one pinkish off-white color that gave the space a very open feel. When the new owners moved in, they closed in and separated that space with a very intense gold in the living room and a burgundy in the dining room. It was especially claustrophobic because the dining room had a wood-paneled ceiling. It was clearly a case where color alone transformed the environment negatively.

In the Zillow article, the writer stated, “Color can be a powerful tool for attracting buyers to a home, especially in listing photos and videos. Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray, not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space.”

Fresh paint definitely helps a home sell faster, but why not choose the “right” colors to make it sell for more?

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.