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Front Porch

No glossing over it: paint helps sell houses

Published March 9, 2007


In a tight real estate market where finicky buyers expect the kind of red-carpet treatment they might get at Tiffany's or Saks Fifth Avenue, first impressions count - a lot.

Giving your home a coat of paint before putting it on the market may give it the extra curb appeal it needs to sell quickly.

"When a potential home buyer appraises a property for sale, they spend just 30 seconds to a minute getting that first impression," says Deborah Zimmer, a paint expert with the national Paint Quality Institute, a group that develops and tests paint products worldwide.

"Are they going to see a freshly painted front door or entrance or something that's not cared for and shabby? The market from a buyer's standpoint is just booming."

A good-looking and fresh exterior paint job can set the tone for the remainder of the buyer's visit.

Think of it as a wise investment rather than a last-minute dip into the piggy bank.

Zimmer recommends four things if you're planning to paint your home before selling.

Use a top-quality, 100-percent acrylic latex paint.

"In a can of paint, you truly get what you pay for," she says. A premium paint will be easy to apply and brush nicely onto the surface. Paint is relatively inexpensive, so she recommends asking for a higher-end paint. Zimmer can't recommend any specific brands, but offers this tip: All manufacturers make paint at different prices levels.

Always go for the most expensive because, generally, better paints contain quality binders that bind the pigments to the wall, and they have additives that help them flow. Also, better paints are formulated so that mildew and mold won't grow in your half-empty can or on your walls.

Be conservative when selecting an exterior color.

When you're selling your home, you're trying to appeal to the broadest audience. "While you may love canary yellow, a prospective buyer may not," Zimmer said. Forget what you see on the home-decorating shows. She advises sticking with white or other neutral colors.

Include quality surface preparation in the work. This is probably the most important thing to pay attention to when painting your house: "Surface prep really affects 80 percent of your final paint job," Zimmer said. If you think you're just going to slap a coat of fresh paint over a dirty, flaking or chipped surface, reconsider that idea.

Finish painting before putting your home on the market.

"Have all of the projects done, so you don't leave the impression that you're trying to get a coat of paint on before showing the house," Zimmer said.

That means making sure the job is complete down to the tiniest details: brushes cleaned and put away, drop cloths removed, cans of paint properly closed and stowed in a garage or storage area.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

[Last modified March 8, 2007, 08:13:55]

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