How much difference does repainting make in attracting renters?

65 Replies

I am close to purchasing my first SFH rental. The interiors are painted beige. The paint is fine - it just needs a little touch up here and there. My property manager took a tour of the house today and gave me a (low priority) recommendation of repainting the house "agreeable gray".

I am curious how much and what kind of difference going from B+ color to A+ color makes to the rent, rentability and cashflow in your experience.



So, I'm sitting in my den, painted SW Agreeable Gray.   In one of our apartment units, we paint upgraded units Agreeable Gray. 

The only difference between the two is that in my home, we paint the ceiling white and in our apartments we paint the ceiling Agreeable Gray so that at turns we don't have to worry about cutting in the ceiling paint.  (In the long run this is much cheaper.)

In other apartments, we do the same with SW Navajo White (a light cream beige)

But, we are talking SF rentals.  What is most important is understanding what works in that market.  If you trust your manager, the cost of a coat of paint may yield $50/mo for a long time.   Or, it might not. If you are not certain about your manager's expertise, check out the competition.

If the paint is in acceptable condition (with minor touch ups) don't waste your money. A tenant isnt going to care if its agreeable tan or agreeable grey. 

Id say it depends on the type of rental.. WHat class. We have 19 C class rentals, We paint them all semi gloss white... Doors floor, trim and walls. They are clean and bright. Also easy to touch up when they move out.. No cutting in. 

Our tennants arent that picky. 

If you were in an A or B rental, then the colors and decor may be more of an influence... 

Can you paint it yourself? THat may cost you $50 and some time. Vs if you have to pay some one could be Hundreds... Hundreds prob wont be worth it for sure. 

@Praveen Balaji grey is the latest “in” color at least for now. It shows well. It will probably make a bit of difference that the place is freshly painted period. Suspicious of “just needs a touch up here and there”. If it’s a quality rental and not too expensive I’d do it.

Speaking as a landlord and a former painter myself, going from B+ to A+ is probably one of the easiest (and cheapest) things you can do that could make a world of difference for potential tenants. It's why nearly every apartment complex does this when they have any turnover.

Remember it's not just appealing to the eyes but it can also give that "new apartment" smell and presents an overall cleaner interior.

@Praveen Balaji I have read the new trends will start to move away from grey to more off white, white and blues. Grey has been the go to color for almost ten years, before that beige and tans were popular. Anything neutral is good. 

I think a fresh coat of paint makes a property more appealing, but it can be costly to paint so we only do it if the paint is several 5+ years old. Most of our properties are neutral beige colors and our carpets are brown. 

Without seeing it myself, I would take your property managers recommendation because they are the expert. 

My business partner and I have a debate going right now.  Our standards are clearly different with "What is fine".  We just closed on a new duplex.  The one unit didn't need any painting and minimal touching up the white trim and front door.  The other unit will come up this Sunday.  Don't exactly know yet the true condition as it was full of furniture.  I don't wish to paint a 4 bedroom unit myself I was going to get a painter.  I think starting with scratch then we could touch up as needed as we will have the color used.  

Also, What are these categories people are mentioning A+, B+, C...  Are these price points? Luxury vs low cost housing??  We are 15 minutes away from Denver.  

I personally want the unit to show as perfect as a 50 year old unit can.  I still think people want a clean place, not just a place.  Granted I've not rented many places but the couple times I have the walls were all painted fresh.

@Praveen Balaji

We actually chose Accessible Beige over Agreeable Grey when we painted last year. All our units will be beige now. Sure, Grey is “the” color today. So? Tenants won’t care if either color and paint job is new(ish).

Just don’t go painting every other wall a different color.

The question will he answered when you see the $3000 estimate.

The answer is not worth it if the break-even  takes more than 12 months. By then you may need to have it painted again.  You'll never catch up. 

Painting is about my best ROI value-add but I do it fast and have 82 gallons of quality mistints to choose from on shelves. Would change if I had to stand in line with my little swatch to be mixed at $40/gal.

When you buy the property, you should factor in interior paint depending on where you got the property. 


Buy an offmarket house from a distressed calculate your MAO then subtract [insert number for what it'll cost to paint house + GA, you can get it done for $1.5-$2/sq ft).

Now you're not losing any potential profit. 

We use edgecomb gray with an eggshell finish. Not as "gray", a little lighter.

@Praveen Balaji - Case Study- in a 2/2 condo I recommended a client remove carpet throughout in favor of lvp/laminate and repaint a condo grey with white trim - it was beigey but worn with a purple bedroom. the owner fought with me and said they were both serviceable. They rented for $100/mo LESS (1500 vs 1600) and 4 months ($6000) slower than the competition apartments - literally all the others in the complex were getting rented around them because they had decided on the “cheap/cost effective.” If I’m not rented in 3 weeks at top of market, I fix it up based on prospective tenant feedback. The condo cost them about 150k. Vacancy is the killer- I’d rather stick $3000 of granite and stainless in an apartment than be 4 months vacant.

If it currently looks reasonably freshly painted or you can do some touch up to get it there, most renters won't care. I just recently rented out a SFH that originally had 12 year old beige-brown-peach color for the walls, ceiling, and trim which I repainted with my wife to SW Accessible Beige walls, SW Alabaster trim, and SW ceiling white. It took a lot of paint - 35 gallons and a lot of time. Might use a pro next time unless I feel up for some punishment. We were able to raise the rent 24.8% over the last contract we signed about 3 years ago and didn't raise rent in those 3 years so there is some appreciation in there too, but I feel the paint played a big role. Also the other rentals in the area mostly have modern paint schemes. I wouldn't do this for a C class or lower rental.

Not rental related, but I just painted the entire downstairs of my house SW Agreeable Gray (it was SW Canvas Tan). I can't believe how much of a difference it made, plus fresh paint just looks good. I guess it comes down to cost, really. If DIY-ing it is an option, I'd go that route. 

Certainly a property should be clean and maintained. However, no way I am spending money to paint over an acceptable color in good condition.  You will end up repainting at some point, so just wait to spend money.  Sweating an asset to maximize profit applies to jet airliners, nuclear plants and paint. 

@Praveen Balaji

I’ve had much success with the agreeable gray. People seem to love it. You can thank Joanna Gaines. The last two properties I’ve done look eerily similar, and I’m beginning to feel like a one trick design pony, but it really seems to make the folks happy. I say rock it till the wheels fall off. In a decade or so, grey will look like beige does now and we’ll be on to a new agreeable shade.

I would say that it makes a significant difference. I also agree it depends on the type of property, however if I am understanding the seasoned RE veterans, the better the shape the property, the more likely the tenant is to care for it. My gut is to take a weekend and paint!

Originally posted by @Elisabeth Sofley :

@Praveen Balaji

I’ve had much success with the agreeable gray. People seem to love it. You can thank Joanna Gaines. The last two properties I’ve done look eerily similar, and I’m beginning to feel like a one trick design pony, but it really seems to make the folks happy. I say rock it till the wheels fall off. In a decade or so, grey will look like beige does now and we’ll be on to a new agreeable shade.

"one trick design pony" HA! That is too funny and I understand! :)