Do I need to paint before selling my house?

Do I need to paint before selling my house? Is it worth it? Is it worth it to paint the exterior before selling? What about the interior? These are questions that many people who are preparing to sell a house ask. “Yes,” is the short answer if you talk to many realtors, home-stagers, or designers. A fresh coat of paint can make a difference. Of course, there are caveats, qualifications, and disclaimers. Paint color and its connection to the psychology of selling is always an attractive topic. 

For the typical homeowner, a home sale is the most significant transaction they’ll make during their lifetime. For real estate professionals, home sales are their lifeblood. It’s good to consider both perspectives on whether you should paint your house before selling. The homeowner and real estate agent working in synchrony will have a common goal. But that assumes they have sat down and had a meaningful conversation about the home sale that goes beyond setting the asking price. F.C Tucker gives some great advice on showing your home, and not coincidentally, paint shows up more than a couple of times.


What do other experts say?

Jonathan and Drew Scott, HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” have strong opinions on home colors and resale. The home improvement television stars say to avoid red and yellow. Instead, they suggest going minimal with blacks, whites, grays, and wood tones. These color suggestions fall in line with their other top tip for home staging when selling: “depersonalize.” They recommend sellers remove knick-knacks like family pictures that clutter up a buyer’s imagination. It’s the same with paint color—a bold, personal choice can distract. 

Interviewing a real estate expert for This Old House, host Kevin O’Connor finds agreement with Jonathan and Drew. In outlining their top tips to making a house market-ready, This Old House recommends that sellers start with the exterior and landscaping, including laying new sod, plantings, and fixing up fencing. They quickly move to exterior paint and trim, then kitchen cabinet paint and hardware to round out their resale prep top three. 


What do studies say?

Data confirms the experts’ instincts and experience. Real estate tech firm Zillow studied 135,000 homes and found that doors painted charcoal to smoky black can increase a home’s value by $6,000. The study determined that walls painted dark red or brown decreased a home’s worth $2,300 less than expected, and exteriors painted bright yellow could yield a sale of less than $3,400 than expected. 

Painting a door is a pretty simple decision. Even if you make half of that $6,000, it turns out to be a good investment. On the other hand, if an interior wall is not the perfect home staging color and would cost several thousand dollars to repaint, you may want to do a quick cost-benefit analysis before running to the paint store or hiring a painting contractor. 


Why does paint make such a difference?

Does it make sense to repaint your house before selling? It would almost seem counterintuitive. You’re moving and might never see this house again. Of course, the answer is that it’s about love and money. It’s rational and irrational. It’s as simple as fresh paint equals the perception of a more valuable home. It’s also as complex as the person who walks into a home they should love and says, “I’m not feeling it.” Was it the paint?

Professional home stager Rosalyn Ashford notes, “87% of people can’t visualize their things in someone else’s home.” Painting allows you to depersonalize the home and make space for the buyer’s imagination. To sell fast and for top dollar, you have to remove your emotions and put your personal preferences aside.

Repainting allows a home to have a fresh look and feel. If the color feels good and provides a sense of comfort, it can also give a sense of “yeah, I could live here.” Of course, color is not a one-size-fits-all equation. Ashford points out geography is a factor – the color that works in Charleston, South Carolina, may not work in New England. She notes that sellers should also consider the neighborhood setting, the amount of foliage and natural light present, and other ‘local’ factors as they evaluate shades of color. 


What to do?

Set goals with yourself or with your realtor before you decide to sell. And do your research. If your sale is not on a tight timeline and you expect a near-ask sale price, maybe you can get by with a modest home staging. On the other hand, if you need the home to move quickly, you may need to take a more aggressive and strategic approach to make your home competitive. This approach may include painting inside and out that caters to the needs and desires of the buyer market. 


Seller Checklist: to Paint or Not to Paint

  • What are my goals in selling? Speed? Profit? 
  • How competitive is the current market? Is it a “buyer’s market” or “seller’s market?” 
  • Who are my potential buyers? How motivated are they to offer the full asking price?
  • What is my product? Is it “fresh?” If not, what is the cost-benefit equation of painting and other staging work? 
  • Where is my home located, and do I need to consider its context or setting?

If after doing your research, you opt to paint, get it done right. If you aren’t sure about the color choices, get a color consultation from a painting professional. If you want reliable, responsible painters that are highly reviewed and trusted in the Indianapolis area, give ONiT a call for a free estimate.