If you’re selling a home in today’s real estate market, chances are you’re not going to have to jump through too many hoops to get a solid offer.
Sales of existing homes in June were about 23% higher than a year ago, reports the National Association of Realtors. That’s even though the number of homes on the market was down 19% year over year.
Sitting back and letting the supply-demand imbalance push up the sale price of a home has proven to be a fairly successful strategy for sellers. But new data from online real estate marketplace Zillow shows you can get even more for your home — up to $5,000 more — simply by choosing the right paint colors for your walls.
How homebuyers are reacting to color
Zillow surveyed recent and prospective homebuyers to find out which colors they felt were worth paying a higher price. (And taking out a bigger mortgage at today's near-record-low rates.)
Of the 15 colors the survey's participants were shown, these were the ones the consumers were most likely to increase — or decrease — their bids for, depending on the room.
In the bathroom
Light blue is currently the most popular color for bathrooms, Zillow found. Survey participants said a light blue bathroom would be enough to justify a 1.6% higher offer price — about $5,000 on a $290,000 home.
Neutral colors — gray, dark gray, light yellow and off-white — were found to increase the likelihood that participants would either choose to view a home or make a higher bid.
While light yellow was considered attractive as a bathroom hue, bright yellow, bright green, bright red and pink were all considered turnoffs.
“Buyers tend to veer away from vibrant colors in the bathroom, so it is best to go with a softer shade," Zillow says in its report.
In the kitchen
White walls in the kitchen increased interest in touring or purchasing a home among survey participants.
But interestingly, their preferred alternatives to white weren't just neutral colors. While light yellow and off-white scored well, dark gray, dark red and dark green also caught more than a few eyes.
As with the bathroom, participants were not keen on the idea of an intensely-colored kitchen. Bright green, pink, bright yellow and bright red all drew negative reactions.
“Bright red could decrease the price that buyers would be willing to offer by nearly $1,500, on average,” Zillow says. “A kitchen painted bright yellow was least likely to inspire intentions of purchasing the home.”
In the living room
Gray rules supreme when it comes to preferred living room colors, with light green, white, dark gray and light yellow also scoring positively.
Light green, Zillow says, “brought an average offer-price increase of several hundreds" of dollars.
The usual suspects scored poorly for living room color: pink, bright green and bright yellow.
“On average, bright green and bright yellow living rooms decreased interest among surveyed buyers to tour a property,” says Zillow. “Both colors, on average, had a negative effect on prospective offer prices.”
In the bedroom
Though neutral colors were the top pick for bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms, Zillow’s survey participants were a little more adventurous about the boudoir. Dark blue was the bedroom color that would most increase the average price consumers were willing to offer.
Light blue was another strong performer, along with white, bright blue and dark gray.
Yet again, bright yellow, bright green and pink were least likely to have a positive impact on buyers.
“In a separate survey of potential buyers and sellers, both groups claimed they’d be less likely to paint a room any of those colors, regardless of the room’s purpose," Zillow says.
Another view on hue
In December, the pigmentation experts at Pantone chose not one, but two "colors of the year" for 2021. One tracks with Zillow’s findings; the other, not so much.
The first, which Pantone calls “Ultimate Gray," is slightly on the darker side of the gray spectrum, and comparable to a classic gray crayon.
Zillow’s survey participants had a positive reaction to dark gray in every room.
The second color of the year is a shade Pantone has christened “Illuminating.” While not a bright yellow, it’s not exactly subtle either. It’s undoubtedly sunny, and a lot more pronounced than the light yellow Zillow’s respondents gravitated toward.
You'll want to keep Zillow's color findings in mind and think hard before choosing brighter paints, if getting the highest offer for your home is the plan. (And why wouldn't it be?)
Get more green into your bank account
A desire to pocket an extra few hundred dollars might be a smart reason for repainting your home. But there are other, less labor-intensive things you can do to generate more money.
If you haven’t done it yet, consider refinancing your mortgage. Rates are once again near all-time lows, so a refi could shrink your monthly mortgage payment substantially.
A separate Zillow survey recently found that almost half of homeowners who refinanced between April 2020 and April 2021 saved $300 or more per month.
Another good way to free up extra cash is to whittle down your high-interest debt, and stop it from eating away at your budget. A low-interest debt consolidation loan can help you cut your interest costs and wipe out your debt faster.
Instead of spending money on paint, you could have a brush with the stock market. A popular app helps you to invest in a diversified portfolio using little more than spare change left over from your everyday purchases.
If you have a little more capital to play with, you might invest in farmland. It's easier than you think, and commodities are known to hold up well during periods of high inflation.