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A Minor Facelift: What Are the Best Colors to Sell a House?

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A Minor Facelift: What Are the Best Colors to Sell a House?


Every year, more than 500 million homes are bought and sold in the U.S.


No matter how unique you feel your home is, it's likely up against dozens of others in the area, each with its own unique features. Helping your home stand out from the crowd often comes down to the little details and your ability to capture the eye of buyers right from the start.


One of the biggest details you'll want to consider is the color of your home, both inside and out.


While the outside contributes to curb appeal, which will spark the interest of potential buyers, the inside sets the mood as home shoppers try to imagine their own lives in the space.


Keep reading to learn how to choose the best colors to sell a house, and why the right hue makes all the difference.


Choosing the Best Colors to Sell a House

Any time you're thinking about selling your home, there are going to be plenty of things you need to do to get ready. Even if you're selling a newer or recently remodeled home, you'll need to patch holes in walls, buff wood floors, and do other cosmetic work.

If you love bold, bright colors, and have celebrated that love by painting your rooms in your favorite hues, you might also have some painting in your future. 


While buyers can certainly paint once they have the keys, if the colors of your rooms are too bold or not to everyone's taste, some buyers may struggle to look past the tones to see the house and how it might look in different shades.


Many homebuyers paint and repaint interior rooms several times during their time in the home. But we paint the exteriors of our homes far less often. If your exterior is looking less than fresh, that will need a new coat as well. 


Here are the colors that work best, as well as some to avoid, when painting your home, inside and out.


Interior Colors

While the exterior of your home might be a potential buyer's first impression, the inside is where they'll be spending their lives, raising their families, and starting their futures.

While walls can always be painted, buyers will be constantly imagining themselves living in your space. If the colors are too bold or otherwise distract them, they'll be unable to do so.


You don't necessarily need to repaint your entire home in order to list it on the market. If your home is already painted in neutral shades, for instance, simply touching up any nicks in the paint will likely be enough to set the stage for buyers. 


If you do need to paint, either because your paint is old and faded or chipped or because it is a color that is unlikely to appeal to buyers (more on that in a moment), you may not need to paint every room.


Often, the high-traffic areas, like the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom, are the spaces that buyers pay the most attention to. Additional rooms, like a home office, spare bedrooms, or a basement, can likely be left the color they are.


Selling a home is already expensive so it's important to save money where you can.

Start by focusing on the rooms that do need to be painted and learning which interior colors work best and which should be avoided.


1. White

If you're thinking about painting the inside of your home before listing it on the market, you might also be thinking about making it a blank slate for the new owners. Along that line of thinking, white walls in the interior of your home might seem like the obvious choice.


But white is actually more harsh than neutral. Room after room of stark white walls will leave your space feeling like a hospital or office space. 


White also highlights each and every little imperfection in your walls. In an older home, your walls may be covered in little nicks or places where holes were patched. And painting them white will only highlight those.


2. Neutral Tones

Rather than painting your walls a bright, stark white, neutral tones are a good choice for most homes.

Shades of tan or light gray are the best neutral tones. These can brighten up your space without highlighting the imperfections.

Plus, these are far easier to match to a variety of styles of furniture. That way your existing furniture will still look good while showing your home. And buyers will feel better knowing their own pieces will match as well until they are able to paint the rooms to their own liking.


3. Blues and Greens

Neutral tones are great for creating a fresh, clean home. But it won't do much to play on the emotions of potential buyers.


That's where light, cool shades may be a better choice. Soft, washed tones of blue and green can help potential buyers relax and feel at ease in your home.


Avoid any tones that are too dark, as they can make your space feel smaller. Bold hues, like turquoise or lime green, are also a no-go; these are isolating colors that some home buyers may love while others will hate.


Instead, you want tones that are somewhere in between. Blues and greens mixed with gray or tan can help balance these colors out while still giving your home a modern look.


4. Black or Dark Gray

Just as navy blue would make your rooms feel smaller, colors like black or dark gray or brown will make even larger rooms seem tighter.


Your realtor will likely advise you to add light in any rooms that don't get a lot of natural sunlight. But even adding light won't help if your walls are coated in dark tones.


Plus, buyers may be thinking about how difficult it will be to paint over these colors later on.


5. Red and Orange

Dark colors aren't the only ones that would be difficult for buyers to paint over. Bright reds and oranges are also tough to mask once they are on the walls.


These hues are also often associated with feelings of anger or can be irritating on the eyes. Without meaning too, the very color of your walls could leave your potential buyers feeling agitated, which is exactly the opposite of what you want when they're considering purchasing your house.


While last year's Pantone color of the year was Living Coral, this year's is Classic Blue, which shows that the popularity of bold, bright hues has faded. Make sure your interior color choices reflect this.


Exterior Colors

Before home shoppers ever get a chance to step through your front door, they've taken a look at the outside of your home. 


Realtors often stress the importance of a home's curb appeal. This applies to cleaning up the landscaping, tidying the yard, arranging the front porch--and perhaps painting your home.


But while it's easy and relatively cheap to repaint your living room or bedroom, painting the outside of your home is far tougher. It can also be a major expense.


That's why it's very important to choose a color that most buyers are likely to be happy with. Otherwise, they'll be thinking about how much they'll have to spend to repaint it, on top of what they're already paying for your home.


1. White

White may be a poor choice for your living room or kitchen, but it's actually a good choice for the outside of your home. In fact, it's the most popular choice for the exterior of American homes.


White is neutral and gives any home a fresh, clean look, especially when it's freshly painted. It's also a good choice because of how easy it is to add pops of color.


You might choose to paint the front door and shutters navy blue for a nautical look. But a home buyer could easily change that to a red door and black shutters for a more modern feel. White makes it easy to customize the other exterior accents.


2. Neutral Tones

Many of the same neutral tones that work inside your home are also a popular choice for the exterior. Shades of beige, cream, and gray are some of the most popular options after white.


Like white, these are easy to match and aren't polarizing, so most buyers will approve.

If your home is located in a wooded area, or one that sees a lot of dust from gravel or dirt roads, neutral shades like beige or gray might be a better choice over white, as they will hide the dirt better.


3. Blue or Green

Depending on where your home is located and the style of architecture, shades of blue and green, or even brown or yellow, may also work.


To figure out whether one of these shades is likely to be popular with buyers, take a drive through your neighborhood and check out the colors the other homes are painted in.


If there are at least a handful of homes in cool shades, add these hues as an option on your list.


Prepping Your Home for the Market

Choosing the best colors to sell a house is important. But painting your home's interior or exterior can be expensive.


If you need to prep your home to sell but are on a budget, check out these tips next to learn how to do some renovation for less.