Real estate agents say that when you couple curb appeal with pricing the house appropriately, that figure climbs to 90 percent. What kind of property it is has a bearing on how it is perceived, but generally, the tidier, fresher and cleaner it looks, the more curb appeal it has. And painting is key. Sure, choices and tints can vary from region to region, but a spanking-new paint job that's crisp and fresh can really reel them in no matter where you live.
Painting can be very expensive, but it is the least expensive way to get the biggest return on your investment. Because painting is a maintenance issue, you can't say to a buyer, “Well, I spent X amount on painting.” But the expense of painting definitely will be reflected in the quality of the buyer's offer.
In the new-home market, exterior coloration is both art and science. For years, builders felt comfortable choosing exterior colors. However, in the last 10 years, the architect, designer and, in some cases, the land planner are being brought in early on in the process to choose exterior coloration.
While this kind of input consumes time and money, the rewards are huge. The new-home market is highly competitive. If the colors strike a chord with buyers, customers will beat a path to the builder's door.
Sometimes, the type of construction can limit the choice of paints and the surfaces to be painted. For example, townhouse communities don't give buyers much flexibility in exterior coloration. Generally, the builder determines the color of the siding and the trim, in consultation with the designer and architect. Buyers are given a half-dozen front-door colors to choose from. Single homes have much more flexibility in color, but there have to be limits. Builders tend to limit choices, and homeowners associations and civic groups tend to enforce those limits long after the builder has sold out and moved on. And for good reason. How other houses in a neighborhood are painted has a real impact on how your house is perceived by a buyer. If the house next door is loud and unpleasant-looking, it will affect both how well your home will sell and the price.
Do-it-yourself guru Bob Vila said he always tries to encourage consumers to ``be kind to their neighbors when picking color schemes. ``If you aren't sure what to paint your house, hire a consultant. That will save you money and aggravation in the long run.''
Even when no one is telling you what to paint your house, the colors you choose for your house will elicit an emotional response in the buyer. But what will turn a buyer on? If you're a procrastinator, you can try not painting your house and pray that prospective buyers will see past it. That’s not a good idea. Most buyers can only see what is in front of their faces. They can't see one color and change it in their mind's eye to something they might want. Then there is the 5 percent who can see past years of neglect.
What are people finding personally satisfying? According to a national survey by Sears Weatherbeater Paints, more than 37 percent of all Americans (23 million households) would choose white as the primary color in painting the exterior of their houses. In order of preference, the choices are white, gray, blue, tan and brown, cream, beige, green, yellow and, finally, red, Sears said.
Color is a funny thing. If I were choosing a color for resale, I'd go conservative. Still, lighter colors work better. A house that is dark isn't appealing. But bold colors are a risk. In older neighborhoods, a subtle brick red, a Williamsburg blue and hunter green on a stone house appear to be good choices. By and large, though, you'll see white and creams, especially on the trims, with a deeper color for the door. People want the feel of the old, and traditional colors are nice and soothing. In newer houses, the move is toward the neutral. Off-whites and clays are popular for trim. Front doors seem to be the focus of colors, even in houses other than townhouses.
Whatever your personal preference, you should always keep resale in mind. If you go off the deep end of the color spectrum, you could affect not only the value of your house but that of the entire neighborhood.