How homebuyers are reacting to color

Zillow surveyed recent and prospective homebuyers to find out which colors they felt were worth paying a higher price. (And taking out a bigger mortgage at today's near-record-low rates.)

Of the 15 colors the survey's participants were shown, these were the ones the consumers were most likely to increase — or decrease — their bids for, depending on the room.

In the bathroom

Bathroom
Alina Yudina/Shutterstock

Light blue is currently the most popular color for bathrooms, Zillow found. Survey participants said a light blue bathroom would be enough to justify a 1.6% higher offer price — about $5,000 on a $290,000 home.

Neutral colors — gray, dark gray, light yellow and off-white — were found to increase the likelihood that participants would either choose to view a home or make a higher bid.

While light yellow was considered attractive as a bathroom hue, bright yellow, bright green, bright red and pink were all considered turnoffs.

“Buyers tend to veer away from vibrant colors in the bathroom, so it is best to go with a softer shade," Zillow says in its report.

In the kitchen

Kitchen
iPhotoDesign/Shutterstock

White walls in the kitchen increased interest in touring or purchasing a home among survey participants.

But interestingly, their preferred alternatives to white weren't just neutral colors. While light yellow and off-white scored well, dark gray, dark red and dark green also caught more than a few eyes.

As with the bathroom, participants were not keen on the idea of an intensely-colored kitchen. Bright green, pink, bright yellow and bright red all drew negative reactions.

“Bright red could decrease the price that buyers would be willing to offer by nearly $1,500, on average,” Zillow says. “A kitchen painted bright yellow was least likely to inspire intentions of purchasing the home.”

In the living room

Living room
Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Gray rules supreme when it comes to preferred living room colors, with light green, white, dark gray and light yellow also scoring positively.

Light green, Zillow says, “brought an average offer-price increase of several hundreds" of dollars.

The usual suspects scored poorly for living room color: pink, bright green and bright yellow.

“On average, bright green and bright yellow living rooms decreased interest among surveyed buyers to tour a property,” says Zillow. “Both colors, on average, had a negative effect on prospective offer prices.”

In the bedroom

Stylish bedroom interior with dark blue wall
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

Though neutral colors were the top pick for bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms, Zillow’s survey participants were a little more adventurous about the boudoir. Dark blue was the bedroom color that would most increase the average price consumers were willing to offer.

Light blue was another strong performer, along with white, bright blue and dark gray.

Yet again, bright yellow, bright green and pink were least likely to have a positive impact on buyers.

“In a separate survey of potential buyers and sellers, both groups claimed they’d be less likely to paint a room any of those colors, regardless of the room’s purpose," Zillow says.

Another view on hue

Taking photo of painter using roller painting wall in dark grey color.
Nukky Starlet / Shutterstock

In December, the pigmentation experts at Pantone chose not one, but two "colors of the year" for 2021. One tracks with Zillow’s findings; the other, not so much.

The first, which Pantone calls “Ultimate Gray," is slightly on the darker side of the gray spectrum, and comparable to a classic gray crayon.

Zillow’s survey participants had a positive reaction to dark gray in every room.

The second color of the year is a shade Pantone has christened “Illuminating.” While not a bright yellow, it’s not exactly subtle either. It’s undoubtedly sunny, and a lot more pronounced than the light yellow Zillow’s respondents gravitated toward.

You'll want to keep Zillow's color findings in mind and think hard before choosing brighter paints, if getting the highest offer for your home is the plan. (And why wouldn't it be?)

Get more green into your bank account

Money
studiovin/Shutterstock

A desire to pocket an extra few hundred dollars might be a smart reason for repainting your home. But there are other, less labor-intensive things you can do to generate more money.

If you haven’t done it yet, consider refinancing your mortgage. Rates are once again near all-time lows, so a refi could shrink your monthly mortgage payment substantially.

A separate Zillow survey recently found that almost half of homeowners who refinanced between April 2020 and April 2021 saved $300 or more per month.

Another good way to free up extra cash is to whittle down your high-interest debt, and stop it from eating away at your budget. A low-interest debt consolidation loan can help you cut your interest costs and wipe out your debt faster.

Instead of spending money on paint, you could have a brush with the stock market. A popular app helps you to invest in a diversified portfolio using little more than spare change left over from your everyday purchases.

If you have a little more capital to play with, you might invest in farmland. It's easier than you think, and commodities are known to hold up well during periods of high inflation.

About the Author

Clayton Jarvis

Clayton Jarvis

Reporter

Clayton Jarvis is a mortgage reporter at MoneyWise. Prior to joining the MoneyWise team, Clay wrote for and edited a variety of real estate publications, including Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Real Estate Professional, Mortgage Broker News, Canadian Mortgage Professional, and Mortgage Professional America.

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