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Bruce Bills' Blog

By Bruce Bills | Real Estate Pro in Dallas, TX

Prepping Your Home for Sale: Do-It-Yourself Interior Painting

Prepping Your Home for Sale:  Do-It-Yourself Interior Painting

     Okay, so you might have heard that painting is one of the least expensive ways to update and customize your home.  It’s true—that bright red kitchen wall, for instance, was chosen exactly to match your Coke bottle collection, and the lime green bathroom was a great way to add a little bit of fun to your child’s bath time. 

     Here’s the conundrum:  the very thing that may have made your home reflect you and your personality may be exactly the thing that keeps a buyer away. 

     “C’mon—it’s just a coat of paint,” you might be thinking.  “When people look at a home, they’re looking at room size, layout, condition and great architectural details.” 

     Oh contraire, mon frère.  That’s what they SHOULD be looking for.  Instead, their attention is being captured by the stripes in the dining room, the faux finish in the master bath and that what-were-you-thinking? olive green bedroom.   So before you list your home or put up that FSBO sign, it’s time to consider getting some rollers, brushes and pans and paint samples. 

 Here are 4 must-follow rules to help you in your efforts:

 1.       White isn’t a color.  At least, it’s not the ONLY color.  Check out any home improvement, let’s-sell-your-house kind of show, and you’ll notice that it’s pretty rare that they revert to all-white walls.  Most designers instead look for ways to neutralize spaces without making them look cold or sterile.  Light tans, soft yellows, sky blues and quiet greens can make spaces appear larger, cleaner and more modern.  And because they are familiar tones, buyers can probably envision how their own furniture will look in the space.  Plus, these light tones are a fantastic base for those architectural details you love about your house, whether those details are lighter or darker than the wall color.  One idea?  Check out catalogs from well-known retailers and see how they stage rooms for photos; you might get some great ideas about how to set the stage in your home.  

 2.       Quality matters.  There are just some times in life when you’re gonna get what you pay for.  Paint is one of them.  A $15 gallon of paint is unlikely to give you the same level of coverage that a $40 gallon of paint will.   This is particularly important when you’re looking at covering dark or patterned walls.  And don’t try to get away from a good quality primer, either.   You’ll spend more time and use far more paint if you don’t prime before you paint.  Finally, invest in good quality brushes and rollers—they last longer and won’t leave hairs or fuzz on your freshly-painted surfaces.

 3.       What’s your type?  It’s not just deciding between oil-based and latex paint—it’s also about deciding on a finish.  Because they naturally reflect light, high-gloss paints can make a room look bigger, but they also highlight imperfections.  For this reason, they should only be used on trims, cabinet doors and small areas.    Semi-gloss is an optimal choice for kitchens and bathrooms, satin/eggshell is great for hallways and bedrooms, and flat (which best hides flaws but is harder to clean) is best suited for rooms or areas that are used infrequently.

4.       Washing, spackling and other prep work.  Before paint touches the wall, make sure to scrub them thoroughly (especially in the kitchen) and repair any holes, nicks or dings with a light spackling compound.   Remove the plates around light switches and electrical outlets.   And yes, you do need to tape around trim, hardware and other areas—with a good quality painters tape (no 99 cent masking tape)—before you begin.  The time you take spend up front prepping will save you hours in tedious cleanup.

 

Comments

By Kevin Olson & Jessica Laude,  Mon Sep 27 2010, 13:55
Great stuff Bruce! Now, if you list a home with one of these 1970's paint jobs or wall paper, how do you work that into the price you come up with for listing when a seller refuses to change it because it adds "character" to the home?
By Bruce Bills,  Mon Sep 27 2010, 14:23
Kevin,
You bring up a great point that represents a common attitude with some sellers. The best advice I have for a situation where a seller is just too 'in love' with their own decor, paint colors or home character items is to just be very blunt. I won't take the listing unless they agree to some changes. If it's not going to sell, or not going to show well versus the comps, it's going to waste my time and frustrate them as they see other homes selling and theirs sitting. A very blunt conversation, letting them know they are selling the home to someone else with different tastes and potentially a very different idea of character, is the only way to try and get them to see the light.

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