Color Month

The Wall Colors Homebuyers Are Loving Right Now, According to Real Estate Agents

published Jul 3, 2022
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Ever watch a house-hunting show on TV where the homebuyers are touring a beautiful home, but they can’t seem to look past the paint colors on the walls? I can’t help but sympathize with the perplexed real estate agents as they feverishly explain the wondrous concept of a fresh coat of paint.

Turns out this happens often with buyers in real life, too. If you’re trying to sell your home, you might want to consider doing something about those walls to attract buyers, many of whom are apparently more willing to knock them down than paint them.

White Paint Isn’t Always the Answer

“Bright and bold colors can be a seller’s favorite, but these can also be polarizing and dated in the mind of buyers,” says Krista Forsberg, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty Integrity Edina in Minnesota. She recommends neutral palettes to sellers, though stark white isn’t the objective. Her go-to colors for wooing buyers? Swiss Coffee (a warm white), Revere Pewter (a version of the famous greige you’re always hearing about), and Silver Song (a cool gray), all from Benjamin Moore.

A neutral palette for the walls is key for making them “forgettable,” explains Andrew Westphal, an agent with Corcoran in New York City. “I like to say make the color clean and nice, but try to make the buyers forget what color the wall was as soon as they leave the listing,” he says. “Then they are seeing the whole property and not worrying about a red dining room or purple bathroom.”

Some homebuyers might like a purple bathroom after all, says Charles Weinraub, CEO of Handsome Homebuyer, a property-purchasing firm based in Long Island and New York City. In fact, a Zillow color analysis report from a few years back found that bathrooms painted in shades of blue or purple could potentially add an average of $5,000 to the sale price. A more recent update of Zillow’s color survey shows that light blue is now a hit with buyers and could add value at resale. 

Still, Weinraub understands the allure of more muted color schemes for a home’s exterior. “Homebuyers are usually attracted to neutral colors because they want the creative freedom of designing the houses to their tastes after they’ve acquired it,” he says.

50 (Million) Shades of Gray

Purple might not be your thing, but don’t feel the need to default to beige, says Jennifer Baptista, a Realtor in Massachusetts. “Buyers generally want some form of a warm gray in the home.” She seconds the vote for Revere Pewter (which she says is quite similar to Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray) and also for Gray Owl, also from Benjamin Moore. 

Gerard Splendore, a broker with Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York City, is also on Team Gray, noting you should pay special attention to where the sun rises and sets on the home. “South-facing rooms should use a cooler gray with a bluish cast, and north-facing rooms should have a warmer shade with pinkish undertones,” he says. Keep ceilings, doors, and moldings white, but “if homeowners desire contrast, they can add an accent color in a more saturated gray,” he says.

Parisa M. Afkhami, an agent also at Coldwell Banker Warburg, says in addition to gray, that white, black, and cream are in, though she’s not a fan of greige (sorry Revere Pewter fans!) and says yellow-greens and multicolored rooms are out. If the thought of all those swatches of neutral paints have your head swimming, Afkhami says, “A nice fresh coat of white paint can instantly transform a space.” 

Marilyn Wexler, licensed associate real estate broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, says that even if she’s virtually staging an apartment, neutrals are her palette of choice. “Some buyers cannot see past paint color to a home that otherwise checks items off on their wish list,” she says. “If that’s the case, I refer them to before and after virtual staging examples for a reference as to how an apartment might look.”

Baptista has some advice for buyers looking at homes with less-than-desirable interior paint schemes: Grab a paint brush and get to work. “While loud paint colors in a home might seem like a real bummer [for buyers], painting is one of the easiest and most cost-friendly fixes,” she says. “Every home is going to cost you in some area, and if a home with a gorgeous layout and ugly paint comes into play, make sure you go all in on that home. Paint is easy to fix. Layout? Not so much.”

Credit: Jason Rampe

The Bottom Line for Sellers and Buyers

It’s understandable that you don’t want to pour too much money into a home you’re about to list. But certainly painting — which can be DIYed if you’re game — is a more doable option than, say, redoing your kitchen or bath. 

While a fresh paint job is probably best appreciated in person, Forsberg notes that it’s important for property photos, too. “Even though painting is a quick fix for a new owner, it can be a turn off in the property photos,” she says, noting that it might even prevent a buyer from booking a showing. Her duty then is to then remind reluctant buyers of their must-have lists for a new home. If everything else they want is present in that home, she’ll remind them of how all it takes is a fresh coat of paint to transform the look.

If you’re on a house hunt of your own, don’t be too scared of bold colors or garish accent walls, says Forsberg. There might be a big opportunity for you as a buyer.

“In a competitive market, having buyers look at a property that has solid bones but wild color choices may mean they are able to purchase a home that other buyers have already passed on,” she says.