A living room painted yellow on one side and dark gray on the other.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News; Shutterstock

Lose the white paint — the mood of the day is gray 

The latest paint color analysis from Zillow finds that buyers are willing to pay more for a home with dark gray and earth-tone walls.

June 20, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Sellers often paint before they list, but the colors they choose can have a big impact on their sale price.
  • A "deep graphite gray" kitchen can sell for around $2,512 more, while a white kitchen can sell for $612 less.
  • Media trends may be influencing preferences — dark grays are popping up more in home improvement shows and social media.

For home sellers, a little more gray on the walls could mean a lot more green in the bank.

Zillow's latest study analyzing paint colors and home sale prices found that prospective buyers are looking for something different this year. Gone are the classic white tones — buyers are paying more for homes with "moody" dark grays.

According to the report, homes with a deep graphite gray kitchen can sell for around $2,512 more than other similar homes, while homes with a standard white kitchen sell for $612 less.

Charcoal walls are associated with higher offer prices than white in every room studied, including the living room, bathroom and bedroom. 

The shift in preferences may be due in part to what consumers are seeing in the media — darker grays are popping up on home improvement television shows and in social media feeds, said Mehnaz Khan, a color psychology specialist and interior designer in Albany, New York. It may also be the color of our times.

"Gray is the color of retreat. As we come out of the pandemic and return to our hectic lives, buyers want home to be a refuge," Khan said. "They want to withdraw and escape from the uncertainty of the outside world, and rooms enveloped in dark gray can create that feeling of security."

Not all gray tones lead to higher home sale prices, however. Cement gray on the front door, for example, was a turnoff for buyers — offers for homes with that door color averaged $3,365 less compared to similar homes. Buyers appear to prefer black front doors over gray ones, and would offer $300 more for a home with a rosy brown door.

In the bathroom, earth tones are the popular choice. Bathrooms painted a terracotta brown could help a home sell for $1,624 more than similar homes.

Interior painting is the most common improvement sellers make before putting their house on the market, and providing clients with advice on trendy home colors might help them pull in higher offers.

"Paint is a relatively affordable and easy change, yet it has an outsize impact on a buyer's perception of the home," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert. "Buyers rely on color as a powerful visual signal that a home is modern and up-to-date, or tired and needs maintenance. That first impression contributes to their overall feelings about a home and ultimately, how much they're willing to pay for it."  

Zillow's paint color analysis was based on the preferences of 4,700 buyers who scored photos of front doors and interior spaces painted in a variety of colors. Buyers rated their overall perception of the home, likelihood of taking a tour and the price they would be willing to offer.

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