How Important Is Paint When Selling A Home?

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I am absolutely in love with learning and sharing all things real estate. I’m an agent for Jacaranda Real Estate In Harare, Zimbabwe. This blog will be the ultimate resource for all things real estate so subscribe and stay tuned.

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Should You Paint Your House Before Selling?

To be frank, if you have a property that’s already in a particularly good neighborhood, well designed and structured and isn’t in the middle of nowhere when it comes to being close to some general amenities. Your property is going to sell regardless of whether it’s sporting a shiny new coat of paint or not.

However, not all property sales are equal when it comes to the world of real estate.

Selling after half a year or longer of being on the market to not only get an unfavorable closing price under below your expectations and selling under 3 months and at a premium at that are both very real home selling situations that live on the same spectrum and can happen to a home seller.

When you want to lean to the more favorable side of selling at a premium and selling fast, it comes down to attention to detail. A fresh coat of paint in many situations is one such important detail. Let me explain.

The Parameters of Selling a Home.

Whenever you put a property on the market, you are measuring your success against 2 measures:

  • Financial return
  • Time return

1. Time Return – (DOM – Days On Market):

The period between when you intended to sell your property (got it on the market) and the day of closing the sale (successful removal off the market).

Time Return is a crucial measure to consider because it identifies potential flaws in the property that are hindering it from being sold. In good markets, an average DOM is around the 90-day range whilst in low markets the DOM range up of 270 days +.

Market conditions aside, the lower the DOM the better. If you’ve decided to sell – you want to sell fast.

2. Financial return – (ROI – Return on Investment):

The amount you sell your property for in comparison to how much you invested in the property (it’s purchase price + renovation costs).

When people discuss having a good sale of their property, they are typically talking about earning a good financial return on the property.

The Value of the property is influenced by many things including the historic sales price, inflation, renovations and the desirability of the property.

How Does Paint Influence the Sale Of A Home?

As stated above, very rarely will the color or status of the current paint job be the big deciding factor as to why your property sold or isn’t selling.

What paint will influence, is the advertising potential of your property. Whether it’s the images of your property on an MLS or its during an open house or private viewing; the first impression people will get from your property will be its exterior and that is largely influenced by its coat of paint.

The more competitive your housing market is, the more important a great coat of paint that makes a great first impression becomes.

When houses are on the market, they are essentially in a fight to gain the attention of the most people possible for 2 reasons:

  • More people =  more opportunity to attract a qualified buyer who wants to and can purchase the property
  • More people = more qualified buyers = more auctioning potential; the more people who want and can buy your property, the more leverage you have to charge a premium price under an auctioning framework.

Which property do you think is more likely to peak people’s interests in the market to get more and faster offers?

When you’re selling a house, what should you paint?

As we’ve identified above; you’re painting to generate an incredible first impression in the eyes of prospective buyers. As such, if you’ve decided to paint your property; set a high priority on painting the most visible areas of your home concerning listing photos and visiting areas.

Below are 3 of the most visible areas of a property that you should pay attention to when deciding where to paint

1. House exterior and interior walls.

The inside and outside walls of the house are always going to be on display regardless of whether prospects see the property online or physically in person. If you’re going to paint the property; painting the actual walls of the house takes precedent.

The color of the houses’ walls has a direct influence on the tone and vibe of the property.

2. Attached furniture.

Doors, Cabinets, wardrobes, tiling, mounted desks and shelves; if the future buyer of the property can’t lift it and replace it easily it’s counted as attached furniture.

As the walls of the property, attached furniture is crucial to establishing the atmosphere of the property; particularly about kitchen and bathroom cabinetry.   

3. Exterior boundaries.

The boundary walls, fencing, and gate of the property are not always put up and displayed on an MLS but there’s no hiding it when prospects intend to come and visit the property.

When you’re selling a house, what shouldn’t you paint?

If it is unlikely to be noticed by the average visitor, it’s not worth painting as an investment. The property buyer might inevitably paint these areas for out of their own desire to do so but as an investment; these areas have a near 0 return and influence on selling the property.

1. Sheds.

Particularly back yard sheds. This will most likely be seen as a bonus space for the property; an important reason to not paint it is the fact that you don’t know what the new owner would intend to do with space.

A gardening shed, music room, outside play area, etc. The power of painting is in setting the mood of the room. For potential specialty rooms like this, it’s better to leave it to the new owner.

2. Garage interior.

The outside of a car garage can be seen as being a high ranking area to paint because it’s largely visible. The interior on the other hand for most low to mid-range properties is not expected to be something extravagant, to begin with, and not something that will highlight the property for a sale.

3. Cottages and detached estate.

As with sheds, these areas count as bonus areas of a property that are having their use dependant on the new owner. Buyers are more likely to be excited with the extra space and then think about what they’d want to do with it on their own.

4. Invisibles.

The Roof, most gutter railing and storage rooms. No one is likely going to be staring at these for enough time to be concerned about their aesthetic state, in this case – functionality drastically outweighs the form.

Picking the right colors for selling a house.

When it comes down to picking the colors you are going to use to paint the different aspects of your home before you sell, there are 3 key considerations to always have at the forefront:

1. Appropriateness.

Especially important for individual rooms in the house, what will this room likely be used for an how can color amplify that use?

Bedrooms are largely subjective when it comes to color but you expect the majority of individuals to want colors that handle lighting well, such as with beige, light blues or blushes

Kitchens can get away with having more bold colors for cabinetry such as with blacks, browns, and reds.

2. Neutrality.

Whenever you set out to paint a property you want to sell keep this at the forefront when you’re picking a color – “it’s not about what you like, it’s not about what the buyer likes, it’s about what they all wouldn’t mind!”

It’s not about what you like because you won’t be living.

It’s not about what the buyer likes because you have no idea who the buyer is to know what they like.

Picking a completely passive color is the best route, a color such as gray, beige or greige doesn’t polarize the audience. Remember, what you want to do is attract the most people to your property.

3. Similarity.

Concerning similarity, I am talking about the general color palette of the other properties near yours. If you look at your house and sneak a peek at the colors of your neighbors’ houses you’ll probably find out that no one has a color that drastically sticks out.

Polarization is the enemy of a quick sale.


When shouldn’t you paint your house?

Now that we’ve pleaded a case for why painting your property is a worthwhile investment under the right expectations paired with the right strategies, I think it’s only fair that we talk about the situations where painting your property is a bad idea and investment.

1. The last paint job looks great.

It goes without saying but, I’ll say it anyway; if the coat of paint your property looks good – don’t repaint it. Feel free to give it a wash or professional wash at that but painting a home is a pretty big investment and if the new paint doesn’t make a huge difference; then it wasn’t worth it.

2. In a great market.

This is concerning a quick selling market, where average DOM is at 90 days or less for your neighborhood. This selling period implies a seller benefiting a market where buyers are already eager and able to purchase a property. Painting your home in this type of situation isn’t a bad idea but the cost for the benefit is significantly reduced.

People were going to come to see your property regardless.

3. You’re in a prime investment zone.

This is an area that is very attractive to real estate investors who are looking for properties to either rent them out, convert them to Airbnb properties, remodel the property or renovate to flip.

In such a case. most renovations including painting the property are not worth anything for the buyer as they are likely going to redo most renovations on their own to ensure legally verifiable standards.

4. You are not prepared to get it done expertly.

I’m not saying you won’t do a good job at repainting your entire house but I am saying if you’ve never done it before you’re most likely under qualified and underestimating the task.

Nothing is more apparent than a novice DIY  solution to a problem and the last thing you want is for your prospective buyer to negotiate the selling price of your home down, to fix your bad paint job.


Painting a home can be a very useful renovation to undertake if you understand exactly what the cost is for your particular property and you understand exactly the outcome you want and are most likely to get from doing it.

In a thriving market where properties are selling fast; it might not be worth its cost.

But if your market is very seller competitive and you need every advantage you can get, a new paint job could be exactly what the real estate agent ordered.

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I am absolutely in love with learning and sharing all things real estate. I’m an agent for Jacaranda Real Estate In Harare, Zimbabwe. This blog will be the ultimate resource for all things real estate so subscribe and stay tuned.