The paint colors that devalue homes - and the ones that can help add value

Property experts reveal the paint color mistakes to avoid if you want to sell your house

black living room feature wall embracing paint colors that devalue homes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Selling your property and want to know which colors could help to cinch the deal? Our experts reveal the most common paint colors that devalue homes, together with the ones that could add value.

Sprucing up the house with a fresh coat of paint is often recommended before putting a property on the market. But while certain colors, like the best living room paint colors, are likely to appeal to prospective buyers and hasten a speedy sale, there are some interior paint color trends that are likely to turn prospective buyers off and could actually devalue your home.

"While it’s very easy to change the paint of a room, first impressions are everything," says Tayo Oguntonade, leading property expert, mortgage advisor, and founder of Brickzwithtipz. "In some cases, it can be difficult to visualize what a room will look like in a different color, so the choice of paint can really affect the demand of a property and in turn the value."

The paint colors that could devalue your home

According to a recent study by independent paint retailer The Paint Shed, nearly 4 in 10 would offer less for a house they were interested in purchasing based on the color scheme alone, and nearly one in five would be put off from making an offer completely. 

So if you’re considering putting your home on the market, which are the colors that are likely to hasten a speedy sale, and which are the colors to avoid?

1. Thinking bright pink? Think again

bright pink living room walls and cream sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

While bright pink is a feel-good color that will add instant impact and can energize a space, if you’re planning on selling your home, a hot pink living room might be one to avoid according to the experts. Instead, try one of the recommended sophisticated best pink paint colors recommended by interior designers.

Fuschia takes top place as the most undesirable paint color for the home, closely followed by neon pink, yellow and green according to The Paint Shed’s survey. Three of the top ten least-liked shades are bold pinks - namely fuchsia, neon pink, and hot pink.

Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux, advises, "when you are selling your home, you want the people who are going to see it to imagine themselves living there. This could be hard if you have really stamped your unique personality on it - and you happen to love bright pink. It’s why new homes are painted white or off-white, it’s the blank canvas onto which you tell the story of your life rather than the one you inherit from someone else."

"Unless the room is exceptionally styled, bright colors can put people off. Use bright colors in the smallest spaces and rooms for a flash of impactful joy rather than a sock in the face with a bag of jelly beans," adds Marianne.

2. Avoid overly-bright yellows

Living room with bright yellow walls demonstrating bright yellows as paint colors that could devalue your home

(Image credit: Getty Images / Onur Dongel)

While yellow is a cheery color that can have an uplifting effect, neon yellow comes in third on the top ten least-liked colors list according to The Paint Shed survey (after fuchsia and neon pink), while lemon yellow comes in at number nine.

Zoe Warren, interior design expert at PriceYourJob agrees. "While we all have our own personal preferences when it comes to color, research shows that certain paint colors can impact the value of our homes. Although yellow evokes a happy tone, the brightest tone can be overwhelming in your home." 

Instead of opting for super-bright shades, Zoe advises opting for more mellow tones of yellow such as ochre or mustard which are much less likely to have an adverse reaction. "These shades will provide a toned-down version of the cheerful palette," she adds.

3. Steer clear of zingy citrus green

Lime green painted bathroom showing why bright green is a named as top paint color that can devalue a house

(Image credit: Future)

While lush leafy greens and soft, soothing shades of sage green are super-popular in interior trends right now, it seems that lime green is less so, coming in fourth on the least-liked list, so might be one to avoid if you don’t want to turn off potential buyers. 

"Bright shades of green can almost resemble neon," says Zoe. "Whilst they do stand out, this can be unappealing to others and are more likely to clash with your furniture. Instead, give the illusion of a light and bright space by opting for a soft sage green on a feature wall, ideally, one you see when you first enter the room."

Tayo agrees. "When you are redecorating a house, it’s always important to try and capture as much of the market, potential tastes, and potential buyers as possible. That’s why it’s always wise to stay away from super bright colors, such as lime green, yellows, and bright blues. While these colors may suit some people, it’s unlikely that they will be to the taste of the majority of the market," adds Tayo.

4. Stay away from statement black

Home office with black walls and turquoise desk bold decorating choice but named key paint colors that could devalue your home

(Image credit: Future PLV/David Lovatti)

While all-black rooms can look ultra-smart, black is a love-it or hate-it color that’s guaranteed to cause a strong reaction either way. At eight on the top ten list, if a speedy sale is your priority, an all-black living room might be one to swerve.

"As well as avoiding overly-bright colors, it’s also important to avoid colors that don’t complement the home," says Tayo. "If the house isn’t large, colors like black or other very dark colors can make a small home look even smaller, which goes against one of the main things most people are looking for in a home - space!" Not even the best ideas to maximize and organize a small space can help if the paint color is already making the room feel enclosed.

Marianne agrees, "Color can be as much a mistake as a selling point. You just have to be clever with where it appears and how you use it. Dark colors do make rooms look premium but make sure the room you choose to paint in a dark color is not the main family room. When I have sold homes in the past, I imagine the kind of person who would like to live there and then style it to tell their story. It always seems to work."

5. Don't be tempted by warm red and orange

Living room with red walls and leather sofa suggested as paint color that could devalue your home

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

In the same color family, bold red and hot orange get a similar reaction when it comes to the least-liked colors, appearing fifth and seventh on the list respectively. 

"Colors that could be overwhelming should be avoided," warns Tayo. "Painting the decor royal red or hot orange can overpower a room - it’ll be the first thing anyone notices before any furniture or decor."

And first impressions count when it comes to selling a home. "Nothing changes the appearance of a room quicker than the addition of paint," says Gregory Smith, property expert at PriceYourJob. "A bad color choice can instantly make a large room look smaller and unattractive to potential buyers. The darker the color (for instance red, pink, orange, and black), the more primer it will take to cover up, which will be expensive for new buyers. Keep things neutral and bright, opting for colors like cream, light grey, and sage. These colors are more likely to match everyone’s taste and uphold the value of your property."

6. Shy away from electric blue

Living with electric blue walls named as a one of the key paint colors that could devalue your home

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Our aversion to bright colors is confirmed with the last on the least-liked list, electric blue. While much-loved by interior designers for its luxurious appeal and hypnotic allure, it seems that for potential buyers electric blue rooms are a no-no. 

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), most of the shades in the top ten paint colors that could devalue your home are bold and bright, whereas the top tones homeowners prefer are neutral colors (33%), with earth tones coming in second (25%). Only 12%  prefer bold colors in their abode, according to the survey.

"Potential buyers need to be able to envision their lives within the house they are viewing," says Michael Rolland, interiors expert and MD of The Paint Shed. "By opting for overly bright or bold tones, the seller is making that process more difficult, as well as adding an additional cost to the purchase of the property by increasing the cost of redecorating."

How can I use paint colour to add value to my home?

Living room with neutral walls and white sofa as fine example of avoiding paint colors that could devalue your home

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Just as some paint colors devalue homes there are tones that can help to sell, in effect adding value to the property. "For sellers, it’s key to note that there are various factors that come into play when buyers consider whether it’s the right fit for them – down to the paint scheme of the house. Painting the interiors and exteriors can add up to 4% to your home’s value," says Simon Bath, CEO of iPlace Global, the creators of property concierge platform Moveable .   

"Neutral tones can make buyers think of the house as a blank canvas and this gives them the ability to think of how they will fit into the home. Colors such as green, bright yellow, dark brown, and black can sometimes be classified as a no-go zone if you’re looking to boost the value of your property."

"Sometimes smaller accents of black could help with achieving the desired dramatic effect. However, minimalistic colors are likely to be more palatable for prospective homebuyers," adds Simon.

"For me, the best advice is to either stick to neutral colors or colors that are currently on-trend to ensure your paint choice doesn’t affect your house value," says Tayo.

"As bland as it may seem, sticking with whites and magnolia is the best way to guarantee a potential buyer won't be put off by the color scheme," agrees Michael.

What is the best color to paint a house to sell?

The right exterior paint color is also key for setting the tone for the rest of your home. "Your front door can be incredibly influential in forming a good first impression as it’s the first feature a buyer will spend a brief period picking apart as they wait to enter your home," says Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham & Reeves estate agents. "So it’s well worth spending a little time and money to make sure it looks its best as this will help set the tone for the rest of the viewing."

"What color you opt for is incredibly important in this respect and as with most things in the home, you can’t go wrong with something fairly neutral like a blue or green. As long as you don’t stray too far from the core color pallet you’ll be ok as these ‘safer’ colors will appeal to a far wider range of buyers."

"However, style is as important as substance when it comes to the color of your front door and it’s vital that this color choice also fits with the wider look and feel of your property’s external appearance."

Lisa Fazzani
Homes and interiors journalist

Lisa is a freelance journalist who has written about interiors for more than 25 years and has worked on all the major homes titles, primarily Ideal Home, but also including Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors, Style at Home, Livingetc, Woman & Home, Easy Gardens and Good Homes magazines. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person, as well as being a serial shopper/bargain hunter.