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Color your home sale a richer shade of green

Color your home sale a richer shade of green
Painted walls would look perfectly fine in this Rhode Island bathroom. But interior designer Kate Jackson chose a textured blue-green wall covering that adds style to the simple space. (Nat Rea / Kate Jackson Interior Design / Associated Press)

The restorative power of a fresh coat of paint should not be underestimated — but who knew the right color could fetch as much as $6,271 more for a home than expected?

The secrets of such color-cash wizardry come courtesy of Zillow. The real estate firm analyzed 135,000 photos from homes sold around the country between 2010 and May 2018.

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Black or charcoal front doors produced that top $6K premium. Light taupe living rooms netted $2,793 more than homes with white or other color walls, and light blue bathrooms cashed out at $2,786 more.

Stash the warmer, more dramatic colors such as red, yellow and brown. Red kitchens knocked an alarming $2,310 off sales, brown dining rooms sliced $1,684, and sunny yellow exteriors melted $3,408 from sale prices. So much for happy hues.

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“Lighter blues and neutrals, like grays — they’re really the new beige,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s director of economic research and outreach.

However, simply painting one’s front door black (considered a sophisticated, elegant choice) won’t conjure a $6,000 bump in profit, added Olsen.

“That black door is a signal of a higher-quality, more luxurious home,” she said. “If you follow the design sense of such homes that sell for these premiums,” you too can color your sale a richer shade of green.

Zillow’s study, using sophisticated photo-analysis software, compared homes with color to similar homes with white walls. It included such variables as other wall colors within each room type, square footage, age of the home and ZIP Code.

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Last year, Zillow published a similar color study of 32,000 photos, from listings that sold between 2010 and February 2017. But no other color brushed onto any other surface matched that $6,271 black-door bonanza.

Black on the shutters and front door serves to ground the golden-tan body color of this home. Keeping trim white makes it easier to change color schemes down the road.
Black on the shutters and front door serves to ground the golden-tan body color of this home. Keeping trim white makes it easier to change color schemes down the road. (John Mutrux / Kansas City Star / Getty Images)

So, why are black front doors the entree to big bucks?

“Psychologically, the doorway is the portal to a home,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. Because home buying is invariably an emotional experience, the right color door — in the right spot — can have a “depth of feeling attached to it,” she said.

As with cocktail dresses and formal wear, one apparently can’t err with achromatic black, at least when used on front doors. But color contrast, rooted in basic design sense, also comes into play: The human eye is designed to search out patterns, Olsen said.

Tuxedo kitchens, which have upper and lower cabinets painted contrasting colors, sold for a $1,547 premium, a finding of the 2018 Zillow study. A common pairing was white set off by black or dark navy blue.

Contrast, in fact, is embedded in a color that’s been trending since 2016: greige, a blend of the cooler light gray and warmer beige. When used on exteriors, greige netted sellers $3,496 more than similar homes painted a medium brown, or with tan stucco, according to the 2017 Zillow study.

“Greige is a non-offensive color, a very natural look, and that’s a key word today,” said Eiseman, widely known as an “international color guru.”

While choosing the wrong color can dent a sale, a sterile bleached look might be the greatest sin. Zillow’s 2017 study found that bathrooms painted an unadulterated white sold for an average of $4,035 less than bathrooms with off-white or eggshell hues.

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“I think we’ve all been brainwashed over the years to believe that if you keep it neutral, then you’ll up the value of your house,” said Eiseman, who recommends adding splashes of color (such as pillows) that are removable. A wholly neutral home is “less apt to be memorable.”

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