Color Month

5 Paint Colors That Give Real Estate Agents “the Ick”

published Jul 9, 2023
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Stylish pink kitchen interior with dining table and chairs
Credit: Shutterstock/New Africa

Interior paint colors come down to personal preference. But if you’re planning to list your home, there are some paint colors that just tend to resonate more with buyers than others. Zillow’s latest paint color analysis, for instance, found that homes with charcoal gray walls are attracting higher bids. 

Similarly, there are color palettes that can distract buyers, making it hard for them to imagine what an otherwise great space would look like if they gave the walls a fresh coat of paint. 

I asked real estate agents about the paint colors that tend to give them “the ick.” Here are the hues that are instant turnoffs.  

Red in the Dining Room

“Red in the dining room is said to stimulate appetite, but I personally find it to be too harsh a color for a setting that’s meant to be about enjoying a good meal with loved ones,” says Opendoor broker Jennifer Patchen. She’s not alone in this sentiment: According to Opendoor’s 2023 Home Decor Report, buyers cite bright or dark paint colors (13 percent) as the biggest design deal-breaker when looking at a home. 

While statement colors can add a sense of whimsy and personality in the dining room, they can often be considered distracting or too difficult of a canvas for buyers to envision their own lives in a potential new home, Patchen says. Plus, bold colors like red also make future color changes challenging, Patchen points out. A base coat of primer (or two) and multiple coats of the new color, she says, are needed when adding a fresh coat of paint.

Yellow in the Laundry Room

Yellow is said to symbolize energy and optimism, says Patchen, and she’s often seen it in the laundry room. 

“For a space that’s designed to be productive, I understand the desire to add a pop of color to keep things fresh,” she says. “However, yellow can deter buyers: It can potentially make the space appear dingy, as those rooms typically don’t have a lot of natural light.” 

Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Black Throughout the Home 

Black paint is fabulous as an exterior color, says Chelsea McGowan, a listing agent with Upstate Curious Team at Compass in New York. “But as an interior color it’s just too polarizing for most, and if not done in the right way, darker colors can make spaces appear smaller.” 

Another problem with black paint, especially when it’s glossy, is that it can highlight every imperfection and show every speck of dust, points out Yawar Charlie, a Los Angeles Realtor, regular on CNBC’s Listing Impossible, and director of the estates division at Aaron Kirman Group

Silver in Home Offices

“Mirror-like silver has ambitions of sleek modernity, but often just ends up feeling cold and impersonal,” says Charlie. Plus, glossy silver is unforgiving and every smudge or fingerprint shows up.

Pink in Bathrooms

Pepto-Bismol shades of pink might seem quirky, but in small spaces like bathrooms, they can overwhelm buyers whose reaction is usually along the lines of “Wow, that’s a lot of pink,” Charlie says. “The saturation and distinctiveness can be a repellent for potential buyers who see not a color, but an imminent painting project in their future.”