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When the Right Color Can Mean More Money When Selling

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

Benjamin Moore has just announced its color of the year: First Light, a delicate pink.

I don’t think my wife and I have ever painted any of our rooms a delicate pink, although I had always thought about it since that time we discovered a beautiful pale pink room in Historic Deerfield that we were told, as I recall, was fashioned with paint created with brick dust.  Better brick dust than the red paint we discovered on the back of a closet door in our 18th century home that we were told was created with ox blood mixed with milk.

Just last week, my wife looked up from the lifestyles section of the newspaper and said, “Did you know that green is the most soothing color to paint a room? It’s been a long time since we’ve had a green room.”

As it happens, we live in a beautiful two-bedroom (and den) condo where every wall is painted off-white. I was fine with that, convinced that uniformity of color in all rooms tends to extend the feeling of space. Then suddenly I was thrown into doubt when my longtime painter, Joe Pascarelli, visited us and declared, “This place needs some color!”

I disagreed at first. Just as all the apartments I ever rented in New York City that were invariably painted an off-white, my current living environment was offered only in that color, and I had intended to keep it that way. This one-color approach works for us in that, besides expanding the space, it serves as a suitable backdrop for all the paintings and prints assembled from a lifetime of collecting.

But earlier in the month, a study about color from Zillow 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.

I’m not planning to sell soon, but I took immediate notice for information that I could relay to seller clients. 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.

While as a realtor, I’ve always been instructed to advise seller clients to neutralize colors as much as possible. Now I’m not so sure. For instance, homes with bathrooms painted 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 analysis looked at more than 32,000 photos from sold homes around the country to see how certain paint colors impacted their sale price on average, when compared to similar homes with white walls. Walls painted in other cool, natural tones like pale gray or oatmeal also appeared in top-performing listings.

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 stucco. For a pop of color, homes with front doors painted in shades of dark navy blue to slate gray sold for $1,514 more.

Some colors may actually deter buyers. 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.

In the Zillow article, the service’s chief economist, said, “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. Incorporating light blue in kitchens and bathrooms may pay off especially well as the color complements white countertops and cabinets, a growing trend in both rooms.”

For some years, I have been aware that blue is America’s favorite color. When I placed my home on the market, I painted all the walls off-white, but all the woodwork and cabinetry a soft tone of grey-blue. It made a statement, yet was not so specific to shortstop the attraction of a buyer.

I feel particularly proud of the advice I gave in the sale of an historic home where each room was painted a distinct and intensive color.  After lingering on the market for almost six months, I convinced the sellers to withdraw the listing for three weeks while the interior was repainted in pale appealing colors. When relisted, the home received two solid offers in less than a month.

Selecting the right paint color is one of many factors that may affect why a home sells faster or for more money. Walls painted in cool neutrals have broad appeal and also project the message that the home is well cared for and has other desirable features.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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