The wrong paint color will undermine the sale of even the most well-appointed, tidy home. A burgundy bedroom, green kitchen, or pink nursery inevitably becomes a home’s calling card, as buyers tend to remember homes by their flaws or quirks. From thousands of available shades, we’ve selected the best paint colors for selling a house, according to top real estate agents and interior designers.
Rules of thumb: Painting before you sell
Before dive into the best paint colors, let’s talk about some general rules to follow when selecting paint colors:
99% of the time, choose one neutral color
Neutral, neutral, neutral: every real estate agent’s motto. Neutral colors appeal to the widest range of buyers, suiting a wide range of interior design color palettes and styles. In HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report for Q1 2020, 98% of top agents surveyed agreed that neutral color schemes are the most popular with buyers.
Commit to an undertone
Every paint color has an undertone that is cool, neutral, or warm. Cool shades have a base that is slightly blue, green, or violet, while warmer shades have a base that’s slightly red, orange, or yellow.
Neutral shades strike a perfect balance between warm and cool shades. Paint colors with warm undertones create a cheery, inviting atmosphere, exaggerating the appearance of natural light. Conversely, cool-toned paints produce a calming, contemporary vibe.
“What we usually say is if your floors have any kind of a brown or blonde-like tone to them, you want to do a beige color. If you have any sort of a cool color or more of a yellow-y, gray tone on the floors, we encourage people on the walls to do a really, really light gray,” Knapp advises, adding that, regardless of tone, lighter interior shades tend to sell better.
So if your home has cherry floors, choose a warm beige or light tan paint color for the interior such as Barcelona Beige or Softer Tan by Sherwin-Williams. The same rules apply for your home’s exterior — you want to choose an undertone complementing the existing hardscape or accent materials.
Follow neighborhood trends
When in doubt, see what’s trending in your neighborhood by scoping recent home listings online. What colors are the most popular? Sticking with neighborhood norms isn’t a matter of keeping up with the Joneses, it’s harmonizing with styles that resonate with your buyer pool.
For instance, buyers shopping in a historical neighborhood full of well-maintained colonials will likely appreciate a traditional color scheme that suits the architecture. Instead of going neutral, sellers can lean into the building’s history with traditional paint colors such as Sherwin-Williams’ Williamsburg Wythe Blue and Claret, a complementary muddled salmon.
Best paint colors for selling a house by room (interior)
Thankfully, painting your home is an easy and cheap way to boost your home’s marketability and resale value. According to Consumer Reports, painting key interior rooms like the kitchen and bathroom can boost your sale price by 1% to 3%, while enhancing your exterior can add 2% to 5%.
Our paint color selection process considered data from HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Reports and other reputable surveys, as well as a comparison of shades championed in the blogosphere. For expert guidance for pulling off one of our selected shades in your home, top real estate agent Pamella Knapp offers advice from her experience of selling homes 53% quicker than the average agent in Portage, Michigan.
Keep it consistent
When selecting paint colors for your interior, Knapp says less is more. Choose one, neutral paint color for the primary living areas, including the living room, family room, entryway, dining room, and kitchen. We recommend selecting a lighter shade at least two shades lighter or darker than your flooring for adequate contrast and increased room size.
To brighten rooms that receive less natural light than others, bring in additional floor lamps and brighter bulbs rather than a second paint shade:
“Most people don’t want their house super, super bright on the day-to-day, but when you go to sell, it’s really wise to get much brighter bulbs in every light if you feel that your house is a bit dark. Those small things can make a really big impact,” Knapp shares.
Common areas: Living room, dining room, and hallways
When in doubt choosing between gray or beige, go for gray. In HomeLight’s recent survey, 79% of top agents reported that gray paint colors are more popular than beige and white shades in their market.
If gray paint doesn’t suit your home’s flooring, trim, or architectural style (think Spanish or Mediterranean), then choose a shade of beige or a shade from the illustrious in-between “greige” family.
Best gray paints:
- Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams: Ranked the #1 paint color by real estate agents in a recent survey by HomeLight, this subtly cool shade is light enough to match any interior, while saturated enough to make a difference.
- Abalone by Benjamin Moore: A light, neutral gray, Abalone pairs well with a wide range of interior colors and wood stains.
- Silverpointe by Sherwin-Williams: As its name suggests, Silver Point is a cool, silver shade that gives rooms a sleek appearance.
Best beige paints:
- Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams: Departing from traditional beiges, this shade has a grayish undertone, preventing it from exuding the dreaded yellow tinge in the daylight.
- Kilim Beige: This warm beige leans more brown and orange than yellow, perfect for ranch and Tuscan style homes.
Other paint options:
- Penthouse by Clare: This pale greige is one of Clare’s bestselling neutral colors. Striking the balance between cool and warm, Penthouse creates a sophisticated, airy atmosphere.
- Canvas Tan by Sherwin-Williams: This tan shade is soft, fresh, and bright. The warm undertone adds glow to a room while also complementing a wide range of wood stains.
Paint your kitchen walls the same shade as the other common areas, adding dimension with different shades for the cabinets and the island. When in doubt, Knapp shares that white cabinetry is a safe bet:
“White is universal, people love white. If you’re going to tackle painting the cabinets on your own, it’s tough. Paint doesn’t naturally adhere to a wood cabinet, so there’s a lot of you have to do. So I just encourage you not to do that unless you’re skilled.”
For a pop of color, paint your kitchen island navy, gray, or a soft blue. An accent island gives your kitchen a touch of trend without a big commitment — it’s far easier to repaint an island than cabinets.
Best white paint colors for the cabinets:
- Linen White by Benjamin Moore: This classic, creamy white, suits warm wood flooring.
- Gray Mist by Benjamin Moore: A slightly gray-toned white, Gray Mist is a softer alternative to starker shades of white.
- Carter Crème by Magnolia by Joanna Gaines: Perfect for farmhouse kitchens, this antique white adds country charm to cabinetry.
Best island accent colors:
- Newburyport Blue by Benjamin-Moore: A muted navy with an ever so slight green undertone, Newburyport Blue is a bestseller in Benjamin-Moore’s Historical Collection.
- Naval by Sherwin-Williams: Sherwin-Williams crowned this rich navy Color of the Year for 2020.
- Charcoal Blue from Behr: This gray-blue adds just the right amount of color to an otherwise neutral kitchen.
- Dovetail Gray by Sherwin-Williams: This warmer toned gray is dark enough to provide contrast against white cabinetry, while light enough to maintain a spacious, airy feel.
- Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore: This rich, yet neutral gray pops against white trim and cabinetry.
For the powder room or guest bathroom, sellers can either stick with the same paint color used in the common areas or bring in a fresh color for some added personality. Accent powder rooms are currently trending even for more traditional homes, giving you leeway to bring in colorful shade or wallpaper.
If you want to join in, Knapp recommends choosing a paint or wallpaper that is still fairly neutral and buyer-friendly, suggesting metallic accents.
Best paint colors for accent powder rooms:
- Black Sapphire by Behr: This muddled, gray-blue contains a hint of lavender, balancing masculine and feminine energy.
- Headspace by Clare: A soft, blue-green, Headspace brightens small powder rooms, complementing light, white interiors.
- Antique Tin by Behr: This darker, cool charcoal hue pops against white tile for a neutral, yet bold finish.
Primary and secondary bedrooms
If a seller’s budget allows, Knapp recommends that they paint the bedrooms the same neutral color as the common areas.
“I will say that in bedrooms, people are typically the most forgiving, because in bedrooms typically people are gonna want to coordinate with their bedding as opposed to the main rooms or family room.”
Ask your real estate agent for the final decision on painting your bedrooms. In some instances, the cost of painting may outweigh the added marketability — though it likely will if you’re covering up lime green paint or dinosaur wallpaper!
Best paint colors for selling a house (exterior)
Now that your interior is looking spiffy, let’s tackle the exterior. Curb appeal is everything when selling your home: 76% of agents believe that it is the number thing sellers can do to boost their home’s marketability, with 94% agreeing that great curb appeal translates to a higher sale price.
“We see a lot of dark colors, so I think darker on the outside is the trend right now—dark with white trim—but, that trends in and out all the time,” comments Knapp, sharing that it’s more important to find a fairly neutral shade that complements your hardscape and subtly contrasts with your neighbors.
“You want to take into consideration your neighborhood and your neighbors. You don’t want to have the exact same color house as your neighbors do.”
If you want to bring in some color, Knapp recommends choosing a fun color for your front door. By painting the front door a color, you create a focal point to welcome buyers inside. Plus, if a buyer doesn’t love the color, it’s relatively affordable and easy to change out.
Best gray exterior paint colors:
- Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore: Iron Mountain is a darker gray-brown that warms up any exterior.
- Flannel Gray by Behr: This medium gray leans is cool, yet inviting.
- Slate Pebble by PPG: A warmer gray with an oaky undertone, Slate Pebble particularly suits hardscape with brownish-black tones.
Best taupe exterior paint colors:
- Sparrow by Benjamin Moore: Sparrow is the perfect mix of rich brown and deep gray, for a darker, yet warm exterior.
- Coastal Villa by Valspar: Coastal Villa is a medium-light shade of brown, nicely accented by white or black trim.
- Creek Bend by Behr: Cooler than Coastal Villa, Creek bend is a medium to light, gray-taupe shade.
Best white exterior paint colors:
- Oyster White by Sherwin-Williams: This warm white suits homes with wood accents.
- White Dove by Benjamin Moore: A soft white with a hint of warm gray, White Dove is a balanced off-white that is neither too stark, nor too creamy.
Seal the sale with fresh paint where it counts
Fresh, neutral, and inviting, you can’t go wrong with these paint colors when selling your home. Just remember to trial your chosen shades with generous swatches before you purchase by the gallon.
Header Image Source: (Мария Травина / Unsplash)