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.

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4 Colors You Should Never Paint Your Home


A fresh coat of paint is a fairly inexpensive way to refresh the look of your home; the average exterior paint job costs about $2,600, while interior paint costs $1,660, according to Home Advisor. But choose the wrong shade and you could wind up regretting it later. Paint your home with a weird color either inside or out and buyers might turn up their noses, even though repainting is a relatively easy fix.

Fears of hurting a home’s selling price are likely one reason why many homeowners play it safe when it comes to paint colors, especially for a house’s exterior (restrictive HOA rules, which affect 20% of Americans, might be another). Favorite exterior color combinations include white and gray, beige and taupe, and slate and black, according to the 2013 National Home Color Survey.

Neutrals also win inside the home. Hot interior paint colors for 2016 include grays and shades of white, along with natural-looking greens. The love for neutral or natural shades extends to buyers. When Zillow Digs analyzed photos of 50,000 recently sold homes, they found those with rooms painted in certain colors tended to command higher selling prices than expected. Homes with creamy yellow or wheat-colored kitchens, light green or khaki bedrooms, dove or light gray living rooms, and mauve or lavender dining rooms sold for $1,100 to $1,300 more than properties decorated with less popular colors.

“A fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to improve a home’s appearance before listing,” Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, said. “However, to get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with colors that have mass appeal so you attract as many potential buyers to your listing as possible. Warm neutrals like yellow or light gray are stylish and clean, signaling that the home is well cared for, or that previous owners had an eye for design that may translate to other areas within the house.”

Light grays and yellows may have been popular with buyers, but they had a much cooler reaction to other colors. Some of the interior paint colors they disliked might surprise you. Before you grab the paintbrush, check out this list of the four worst colors to paint your home.

1. Off-White or Eggshell

Shades of white might seem like a safe bet when you’re at the home improvement store, but they aren’t guaranteed to be a big hit with buyers. Homes with off-white or eggshell kitchens sold for $82 less than Zillow estimated they would. Instead, people loved kitchens with a coat of wheat yellow paint on the walls, which boosted a home’s selling price by $1,360.

You don’t have to give up gallery-white walls entirely, though. Painting a room white isn’t always a bad choice, especially if the space has great natural light, according to designer Emily Henderson. But if a space is small or dark (like some kitchens), white walls can make a room look “dead” and “flat.”

2. Dark Brown

Dark brown walls didn’t resonate with buyers in Zillow’s study. Bedrooms painted dark brown sold for $236 less than expected, while using the same shade in a bathroom lowered the selling price by $469. The color is so disliked by some people that the Australian government considered using it on cigarette packaging to make smoking less appealing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. (They went with a brownish olive green instead.)

3. Terracotta

It’s not quite as jarring as traffic cone orange, but even a more muted terracotta shade could depress your home’s selling price. Homes with living rooms painted the same shade as an inexpensive flower pot sold for $793 less than Zillow’s estimated price. Light gray was the preferred color in that room.

The negative reaction to orange walls isn’t too surprising, considering surveys have found it’s one of the least-liked colors in the world. (Blue is the most popular color by far, followed by red and green.)

4. Slate Gray

Gray is trendy color right now, but all grays aren’t created equal. While dove or light gray was a hit in living rooms, helping to boost a home’s selling price by $1,104, dark gray was a dud. Paint your home’s dining room a slate color and you could lose $1,112 when it comes time to sell. Instead, buyers favored shades of mauve, eggplant, and lavender in the dining room.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

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5 Things That Aren’t Worth As Much Money As You Think


How much money is your stuff worth? Chances are, you think your possessions are more valuable than they actually are. Economists even have a name for the phenomenon: the endowment effect. Whether it’s a car, a stock or a stack of old books, people tend to assign a greater value to items they already own than they would if they didn’t already have a vested interest in their worth.

You can see the endowment effect in action every day on television. Take Pawn Stars, where eager, if somewhat deluded, sellers often value their collectibles at three or four times what the pawn shop’s owners think they’ll sell for. Or just browse the listings on Craigslist, where you can usually find people offering everyday household items for nearly as much as you can buy them new. These people may seem greedy, but in reality they might just be harboring a mistaken idea about their item’s value.

Most of us aren’t immune from misunderstanding how much our stuff is really worth. Who hasn’t tried to sell an item only to be disappointed when you couldn’t get your asking price, assumed a family heirloom has monetary rather than sentimental value, or held on to something useless — like comic books, Beanie Babies or old toys — just because it might be worth something someday? From real estate to childhood collectibles, here are five things you might own that probably aren’t worth as much as you think.

1. Your House

Housing prices keep going up, but that doesn’t mean your house is worth as much as you think it is. Homeowners typically overestimate their property’s value by around 8%, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Housing Economics.

Owners’ emotional attachment to their home might have something to do with the discrepancy between anticipated and real home values. People also tend to assume the renovations they made to their home add more value than they really do. In reality, homeowners rarely get back 100% of what they put into updating their property. Unique or custom renovations that are highly valued by a homeowner might actually drag down a home’s value.

“When you invest in truly customized upgrades … you might not get a quality return on your investment,” Colby Sambrotto, president of, told The Cheat Sheet earlier this year.

2. Sports Cards

In August 2016, a 1979 Wayne Gretzky hockey card sold for $465,000 at an auction in Atlantic City, N.J. The six-figure price might inspire you to get your own collection of hockey, baseball, or other sports cards out of the attic, but don’t expect to find a fortune in a dusty shoebox.

As with any collectible, sports cards are worth whatever someone is willing to pay. In many cases that’s not much. Just ask the guy who couldn’t find any takers for his lovingly assembled, 20,000-card collection. Though some old and rare baseball cards still fetch high prices, the market is nothing like it was at its peak in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Your cards may have some nostalgic value, but unless you have a gem in your collection, you won’t be using them to put your kids through college.

3. Engagement Rings & Other Jewelry

The average engagement ring costs $5,871, according to wedding website The Knot, but if you want to sell your sparkly rock, you’ll probably get only a fraction of the original cost back. “Retailers mark [diamond rings] up so high, they depreciate as soon as you walk out of the store,” Ed Snyder, a certified financial planner with Oaktree Financial Advisors in Carmel, Ind., told The Cheat Sheet.

A used engagement ring may fetch only half of its original selling price when you try to unload it. Your other jewelry may not be worth much either. While prices for used necklaces, rings and bracelets can vary widely, getting more than what you paid for a piece is rare, Howard Rubin of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers told The Los Angeles Times, and in most cases, you’ll sell at a significant loss.

4. Antique Furniture

The old dresser, dining table or secretary desk you inherited from your great-grandmother may look cool, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth a lot. Antique furniture isn’t in extreme demand these days, the Wall Street Journal reported, and would-be sellers are often disappointed when their “priceless” items turn out to be nearly worthless.

For one, the item you think is a century old may be a much newer reproduction or an outright fake, with a correspondingly low value. Genuine antiques may have been damaged or poorly restored, which also affects what they are worth. Finally, tastes have changed, and many buyers simply aren’t interested in bulky, dark wood pieces from the Victorian era or earlier. (The Economist reported, however, that mid-century modern pieces are a different story.)

5. Fine China

Like old furniture, fine china that’s passed down from generation to generation may have sentimental value, but you likely won’t get much if you try to sell. Lifestyles have changed, which mean younger people don’t often feel the need to keep an extra set of dishes around just for special occasions. They’re unloading older sets, but they’re generally not making much by doing so, especially if the pieces are chipped or otherwise damaged.

Unless your vintage china is very high quality or a rare pattern, you probably won’t find too many takers, Deb Lee, a professional organizer, told The Washington Post. An antique dealer can tell you whether a set is worth anything. If it doesn’t have much value and you don’t need it, donating it and deducting the value on your taxes may be your best bet.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

Image: Cathy Yeulet

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5 Features That Sell Your Home Quickly


Selling a home can be a long process. But it doesn’t have to be.

According to Money, real estate experts at recently analyzed its home listings, tracking the data for the number of days each house was on the market and how many page views each house received. then compared that data with the houses’ features — like architectural style and home amenities — to help it determine which features are linked to quick sales.

So if you’re looking to sell your house and you need to do it quickly, these five home features often lead to faster “sold” signs in front yards:

  • Affordable price point: This will likely come as no surprise to you, but according to Money, the higher your asking price, the longer it takes to find a buyer. “Houses listed between $200,000 and $250,000 sold in about 83 days, faster than those in any other price range,” Money said. “That’s compared to 133 days for homes priced between $2 million and $5 million.”
  • Medium-sized homes are “just right” for buyers: Although says that big homes tend to get more views than smaller homes on its website, that doesn’t necessarily equate to a quick sale. “McMansions are expensive to heat, cool and maintain,” explains NewHomeSource. The houses that typically sell the quickest through the site are approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, and priced at about $194,000.
  • We love our stainless steel: According to RedFin, stainless steel appliances are a hot selling point. “While new appliance finishes like slate are starting to gain traction, stainless steel is still the gold standard for kitchens these days,” said Robyn Jackson, a Redfin real estate agent in Palm Beach, California.

  • Unique architecture: If you are hoping to sell your Spanish-style home, you’re in luck. That architectural style is uncommon — making up just 1% of listings on — and Spanish-style homes tend to sell “incredibly quickly” because they’re often located in hot real estate markets like those in coastal California, according to Money. On the flip side, Victorian-style homes often spend a long time on the market, despite being priced much lower than their Spanish-style counterparts.
  • Schools: If your “for sale” home is located near a good school, you may be in for a quick sale. found that homes near schools described as “best” or “top” got the most page views on its site and sold in 76 days on average. Homes located near a stadium also sold quickly (77 days).

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