How a Coat of Paint Can Determine Your Home’s Sale Price

An inexpensive can of paint holds a lot more power than you think.

From the time of year to the neighborhood, a lot of factors come into play when you’re selling a home. But here’s one variable you might not have considered — color.

During open houses and online searches, the colors of your home are constantly working for or against you. That’s according to Zillow, a real estate and rental marketplace, which examined over 32,000 photos from sold homes around the country to see how certain paint colors impacted their average sale price compared to homes of similar value with white walls. Here’s what they found.

A Change of Trends

The colors that added value to your home just a year ago can now be hurting its sale price. In 2016, painting your kitchen a shade of yellow could help your home sell for $1,100 to $1,300 more. However, this year, a yellow kitchen could lower your home’s value by an estimated $820, according to Zillow.

Some color preferences remained consistent, with terracotta walls still devaluing a home. Just last year, homes with terracotta walls sold for $793 less than Zillow’s predicted selling price. This year, that number more than doubled, with homes with terracotta walls selling for $2,031 less.

The takeaway: If you’re looking to sell your home, you may want to avoid a terracotta shade. Also be cautious in general when choosing dark and bold colors.

Keep it Light

“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,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist, in a statement.

In fact, homes with blue bathrooms, including lighter shades of blue or periwinkle, sold for $5,440 more than expected, Zillow found. Kitchens with light blue-gray walls sold for $1,809 more than expected, and walls with cool, natural tones like soft oatmeal and pale gray also had top-performing listings.

Light, simple walls performed best among sellers, however, walls with no color had the most negative impact on sales price. Homes with white bathrooms or no paint color, for instance, sold for an average of $4,035 less than similar homes, Zillow noted.

Head Outside

As if it isn’t stressful enough worrying about your rooms’ colors, your home’s exterior color can also impact its sale price.

To that end, buyers typically enjoyed a pop of color, with homes featuring dark navy blue or slate gray front doors selling for $1,514 more. Buyers also responded positively to trendy mixes of light gray and beige, or “greige,” exteriors versus basic tan stucco and medium-brown shades.

If you’re trying to sell your home, a can of paint can be a wise investment — so long as you choose the right color. Keep these findings in mind before you head to the paint store. Likewise, just as color impacts sale price, know that selling your home can impact your credit. Don’t forget to check your credit report card before you start picking out paint chips.

Image: andresr

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The High Cost of Ignoring Today’s Low Mortgage Rates

It’s no secret interest rates are the main driver of the nation’s loan volume. In the first quarter of 2016, mortgage refinances were 23.5% higher than the same quarter the year before (an eight-year high for an opening quarter). First mortgages also were about 10.3% higher than the year before, thanks to continued low interest rates.

Fixed-rate mortgages are currently below 4%. Here is why waiting for a better rate could be a risky could move.

The Markets Will Continue to Move

The pricing associated with interest rates moves daily, in some cases multiple times per day. It is normal for a lender to be pricing out with a certain interest rate at 10 a.m., and then have a change that same day at 2 p.m., resulting in a different fee and cost structure just hours apart. The market is always moving whether you pull the trigger on a new mortgage or not. The takeaway here is to not get fixated on a particular interest rate in order to justify the entire transaction. Focus on the big picture.

Let’s say you’re eyeing a 3.625%, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and, for whatever reason, it takes you a couple of weeks to put together your financials to lock in an interest rate. The market moved and you end up with a 3.875% rate on a 30-year term instead. This is still considered a win.

(Mortgage tip: For every .125 of a percent on every $100,000 borrowed that changes the payment $7.25 per month. For example, the difference between 3.625% versus 3.875% on a $417,000 is $58 in payment difference.)

The Cost of Procrastination

The cost of procrastination can add up quickly.

When refinancing: Let’s say you stand to save $200 per month by pulling the trigger now using our example at 3.625%. Each month you don’t refinance, you are literally stepping over dollars. Six months of procrastination is equivalent to a cost of $600 just by waiting, and that’s if the move is in the direction you want.

When buying: Using our $417,000 example using a rate range between 3.625 to 3.875% the difference in rate over the term of the loan is $21,294 in interest. Moreover, when buying a home, the cost can add up as a difference in purchase price can sway buying power, which can result in property payment change.

Practical Approach

What are rates going to do in the future? No lender has a crystal ball. If you are debating whether to buy or refinance a home, first thing to ask is “can I afford this new payment?” The second question to ask is “is this new loan truly helping me accomplish my larger financial goals?” Interest rate is important to both questions undoubtedly, but big picture should be the target.

The best time to take out a mortgage is whatever time you are in a place that you can justify the expense for the net tangible benefit. It is always the right time as long as you can afford the mortgage and you’re not throwing good money after bad. Let interest rates be a guiding factor only.

Also keep in mind that your credit report and any outstanding loans you have will be closely examined, so it’s best to have as high a credit score as possible in order to score a lower interest rate. (You can view two free credit scores, updated monthly, on

A final thought: Your lender cannot control the time frame for how long you take in putting together your supporting documentation, or what your house appraises for. At the end of the day, ask yourself if the rate and cost structure you end up with still allow you to accomplish your goals. Let that be your guide to obtaining a great mortgage.

Image: Portra

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The 10 ZIP Codes Americans Are Flocking To


If you’re interested in living somewhere that has plenty of growth in jobs and housing, this list is for you. recently took a look at cities across the country and put together their list of “boom towns” by combining projected measures of job creation, household formation and new construction for 2016 and determining their five-year projected household growth.

The areas who made the list have as much as five times the average job growth of the top 100 counties in the country. And there’s some serious growth happening outside of jobs, too, though. According to the website, household growth in each of these areas is between one and seven times the average growth of the top 100 areas, while new home starts are between one and six times the average growth in the top 100 counties, And each of the top 10 individual ZIP codes are projected to see a growth in households of between 9% and 19% over the next five years, found.

At the top of the list is Phoenix suburb Gilbert, Arizona. The town’s population doubled every five years from 1980 to 2000, and buildout is anticipated in 2030 with a population of 305,000, according to the Town of Gilbert’s website. Gilbert also has one of the highest median incomes in the state of Arizona at $80,080, and a population of three persons per household.

“The strength of the residential real estate market is closely correlated to growth in jobs and households,” Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for, said in a press release. “The good news for these markets is that these growth factors have already started to translate into new construction. At the same time, it may be a year or so before some markets on our list start to see an increase in inventory. If anything, this is a road map for where builders should be thinking about where to break ground next.”

Here’s’s list of the top 10 cities for job and housing growth.

1. 85297 — Gilbert, Arizona

Largest Neighborhood: Power Ranch

2. 90012 — Los Angeles

Largest Neighborhoods: Historic, Cultural, Elysian Park, Mission Junction

3. 75201 — Dallas

Largest Neighborhoods: Downtown, Arts District, Uptown, Farmers Market

4. 33132 — Miami

Largest Neighborhoods: Downtown, Midtown, Seaport

5. 89179 — Las Vegas

Largest Neighborhood: Mountain’s Edge

6. 98121 — Seattle

Largest Neighborhood: Belltown

7. 27571 — Rolesville, North Carolina

Largest Neighborhoods: Villages of Rolesville, Carlton Pointe, Cedar Lakes

8. 11249 — Brooklyn, New York 

Largest Neighborhood: Williamsburg

9. 60603 — Chicago

Largest Neighborhoods: The Loop, downtown Chicago

10. 30363 — Atlanta

Largest Neighborhood: Atlantic Station

If you’re looking to buy a new home, it’s good to make sure you can meet down payment requirements before shopping for a mortgage. You should also make sure you can handle monthly mortgage expenses and safely cover other ancillary costs, like real estate agent fees, property taxes, home insurance and repairs. And your credit should be in tip-top shape. Scores of 740 and higher generally earn the best terms and conditions on a mortgage. You can see your credit scores for free each month on to learn where your credit currently stands.

Thinking of moving out of your current city or state? Check out our list of the most affordable places to live in the U.S.  

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The Free Tool That Can Help You Unearth Your Home’s Secrets

homes secrets

Prepare to go down a rabbit hole: Real estate data company RealtyTrac has just released the beta version of Home Disclosure, a new tool that puts a treasure trove of public data — on more than 115 million homes in the U.S. — at your fingertips.

There’s a ton of data, including estimated property values, environmental risks, public and private school rankings, tax history, neighborhood demographics and crime. In all, Home Disclosure explores 42 factors that can impact a homeowner’s “health, safety and financial security,” the company says.

Home shoppers could always access much of this info through government databases and other websites, but Home Disclosure puts it all in one place. For now, the tool is free, though RealtyTrac says there will be a “full launch early next year.” Currently, users can store reports for 30 days and print PDFs for comparison shopping.

The tool is designed to help homebuyers make educated decisions, but it’s fun even if you’re not looking (or don’t have enough cash yet). I now know how much my landlord paid for my building and that he borrowed more than its current estimated value. I also know how much he’s been paying in annual property taxes and where all the sex offenders live within a mile — and what they look like. Other fun facts: There are dozens of reports on environmental hazards and my apartment has never served as a drug lab.

You can have a field day searching loan information on your neighbors’ home, seeing how much your former house is worth and exploring the sex offender registry in your hometown. It’s like the real estate version of Facebook — and you may never want to log off.

If you’re looking to buy a home, there’s a lot of information you can harness to make your decision beyond home comparisons. You should know how much money you have saved for a down payment, how much house you can afford and where your credit stands. You can check your credit scores for free every month on

More on Homebuying:

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