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Add Thousands To Your Home's Selling Price

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It’s all about paint colors, suggests a new study

by Jean Chatzky

These days, you don’t have to walk outside to find a heat wave. You can just read the headlines about the housing market. According to the National Association of Retailers, sales of existing homes and new homes are at nine- and seven-year highs, respectively, and both are expected to continue to rise. Clearly, it’s a seller’s game. But there are still ways to pad your pocket. Consider: paint.

Yes, paint. Simply repainting one room could increase your home’s value by thousands of dollars, a new study shows. Zillow’s 2017 Paint Color Analysis reveals that color is much more important than we might think in how buyers perceive a home’s size and condition. In fact, just a couple coats of paint and a few hours of your time could add thousands of dollars to your bank account.

Aim for cool neutrals

Stay away from bold color choices when putting your house on the market — colors like brown for the living room, slate blue for the dining room and “greige” (gray-beige) for the exterior all bump up the expected selling price of a home. Not only are these neutral colors appealing to a wide range of buyers, but they add light and depth to a house as well. “When you walk into a house and see light, open-space colors that are very airy, you might perceive the home to be bigger, cleaner and well-maintained,” says Zillow senior economist Skylar Olson. On the other hand, dark colors like reds and oranges decreased expected selling price — possibly because they make rooms look smaller and require more work to paint over.

Think shades of blue

Light blue bathrooms and bedrooms, gray-blue kitchens and navy front doors were all predictors of higher-than-average selling prices. It turns out there’s an important reason behind this attraction: “Blues are linked in our culture to dependability and trust,” says Chicago-based environmental psychologist Dr. Sally Augustin. She adds that blue is also one of the most popular colors, so it gives homes a broad appeal. If you’re leaning toward a light blue color for your home, odds are you’re on the right track.

Steer clear of white

You know that anxious feeling you get in an all-white waiting room? Us too — and that’s definitely not the vibe anyone wants at home. White is visually under-stimulating, while people tend to be most comfortable in spaces with a moderate level of stimulation, according to Augustin. If you currently have a white space, repaint it a more soothing color like blue or gray, or add art and colorful accents for a more calming aesthetic. Likewise, if your room is a bright color, make sure to keep accents to a minimum to maintain visual balance.

Invest in the bathroom

If you’re going to paint just one room before selling your house, make it the bathroom — the smallest room in your house can have the biggest effect on its value, according to the study. Houses with light blue bathrooms sold for an average of $5,440 over expected value, while those with white or eggshell bathrooms did far worse — $4,035 below expected, on average. If you’ve got the funds to paint a second room, tackle the dining room; it fares best when painted slate blue.

Other quick tricks

Spending even a weekend getting your home open-house ready can pay off. After changing paint colors, here are a few other quick tricks to maximize your home’s value with minimal effort:

  • Play with scents: If a space smells like apple, people tend to perceive it as larger, Augustin says. Or, light a lavender candle to make people feel more at ease.
  • Focus on the details: Replacing the knobs in your kitchen and throwing out old light fixtures, an inexpensive investment, can make your home seem newer and increase its value, says Zillow home design expert Kerrie Kelly.
  • First impressions are key: Increase your home’s curb appeal by repainting the front door, getting a new mailbox, adding potted flowers and making sure yard work is up-to-date, adds Kelly.