January 2, 2020
Ready to sell your home but afraid it won’t bring what you want in the market? There’s one sure way – a way that’s often overlooked – to increase the perceived and real value of your home without spending a fortune: upgrade the lighting.
Lighting that remains with the house in a sale is a long-term asset of the home, and it can be upgraded to give the home a newer, sleeker look – one that says you kept up with the times and that you cared about the home. And given today’s lighting technology, you can add a level of sophistication and modernity that can put the competition to shame.
You might ask: Why should I invest in new, upgraded lighting when I’m selling my home? Can’t the new owners install new lighting themselves?
Sure, but when it comes to selling a home, putting the competition to shame is precisely your challenge: to rank higher in the minds of potential buyers than do other homes buyers are pondering. And, lighting is a way to improve the look of every room in the house, right down to the kitchen pantry or bedroom closet, without drawing a second mortgage. In fact, some estimates suggest that for around $2,000 to $2,500, you can get a substantial return on your investment through a higher asking price.
Following are sure-fire ways to create greater value with your home’s lighting assets.
1) Start by focusing on LED lighting
LED lighting is here to stay. Throughout the spectrum of available LED lighting products, prices are dropping and quality of light is improving. So, there are few, if any, reasons to change out the home’s lighting assets with strictly incandescent- or fluorescent-based fixtures. In the garage, for example, today’s high-lumen LED luminaires approved for damp locations provide important benefits in visibility, safety and energy savings over common fluorescent linear fixtures. This upgrade, alone, can signal to a homeowner that the garage can be a multi-use space – perhaps a workshop or outdoor-game room – rather than just a place to park the car.
Throughout the interior of the home, LED lighting also provides the opportunity to add creativity and flexibility in lighting, and to showcase the beauty of well-staged spaces.
Of course, the No. 1 reason to replace the lighting inside and outside a home with LED is because of the energy savings LED lighting brings. One estimate by Consumer Reports suggests that each already-existing light fixture upgraded with LED as its source of light can save a homeowner about $750 per year; that’s because LED lighting can cost as much as 80 percent less to operate than traditional lighting. It’s also more eco-friendly than traditional lighting, saving on greenhouse gases and containing no mercury, which is hazardous to the environment.
In addition to the source of lighting itself being less expensive, LED fixtures can also save on home-cooling costs since they emit less heat than do incandescent light bulbs. An important note: These are benefits that should be communicated to potential buyers.
2) Don’t scrimp on the prices of fixtures
While you’re removing outdated lighting assets, replace them with the equivalent (or better) quality in updated designs. Filling a $350,000 home with $9.95 battery-powered LED button lights “as seen on TV” is not what we’re talking about here, even in closets or small spaces like the inside of cabinets. Instead, make the real investment in high-quality luminaires that reflect the style and price point of the home itself – or the targeted price point of the home. Be reasonable and do your research. Understand that cheap lighting will likely encourage cheap offers from prospects. At the same time, don’t put a $3,500 chandelier in the dining room of a home with a market value of $125,000.
3) Update the kitchen lighting
Often called the heart of the home, the kitchen is among the top rooms of the home potential buyers look at when shopping; living spaces are first. In terms of lighting upgrades, the kitchen does, however, take the top spot for return on investment. New lighting can virtually transform the look of the space, adding layers of usable light for varying tasks within the room. After all, the kitchen is also a type of workshop.
Start with the general lighting, the overhead fixtures, and work your way to the kitchen’s task and accent lighting. If the space lacks lighting over the main work areas of the kitchen (and this is likely the case in many older homes), add it. Perhaps you’ll want pendants over spaces where lighting was lacking before. Take a look, too, at lighting the underside of cabinets for greater countertop functionality and the inside of cabinets to help the new homeowner see inside those dark recesses.
4) Update the bathroom lighting
Next to the kitchen, the bathroom is the location in the home where new lighting truly can make or break the space because the lighting assets are most often sold with the home.
Updating to LED is an opportunity to tune the lighting to an appropriate color value – warm for a spa-like atmosphere, or cool for a modern, wake-me-up space – and to incorporate the most elegant and energy-efficient designs. For example, adding lighting behind vanity mirrors modernizes the home and adds a nice glow.
Here, again, is the opportunity to layer lighting. An LED general-lighting fixture should be placed mid-ceiling, and accent and/or task lighting (particularly wall-mounted luminaires) gives the space the intimate feeling and functionality that home buyers most appreciate.
5) Update the lighting in living spaces
Many living rooms in older homes depend on table lamps providing most or all of the lighting in a room. That gives you, the current homeowner, an opportunity to add value to the home you’re selling by adding a luminaire in the center of rooms that have no primary lighting source.
If, however, a room already has a general-lighting fixture, particularly a dated one, replace it with something stylish and elegant. Again, select one that reflects the home’s style and value. Interior designers also suggest going with a style of luminaire that fits into any décor for the same reason that you stage your home to be neutral in style; you want the prospective buyers to see the space as their own. An understated but well-sized chandelier can be a pleasing focus of any ceiling-plane sight.
Great lighting draws the eye to locations in a room that might have been overlooked earlier, and it can create the feeling of different spaces in a single room being used for different purposes, giving the space a multiplier effect, of sorts. For example, a living room with a central luminaire plus accent-wall track lighting has more perceived value than the home for sale next door that has no provided lighting at all in the similar space (the one that depended solely on table lamps).
6) Update the bedroom and other spaces
Finally, select updated luminaires for the general lighting of bedrooms and remaining spaces throughout the house. If possible, match the styles from room to room with lighting fixtures from the same lighting-design family.
7) Change out dimming switches
While you’re replacing older lighting fixtures with new LED units, consider replacing, too, the dimming switches with those specifically made for LED lighting. Where there are no dimming switches, adding new ones can also go a long way in increasing the perceived value of the home. With layered lighting, dimming provides the opportunity to showcase the elegant nature of many of your home’s spaces and the ability to customize the ambiance of any space.
8) An important option in some spaces: go all-natural
In addition to upgrading to LED lighting, harvesting daylight in your home can bring tremendous added value. Prospective home buyers simply want light and bright interiors for their new homes, so look for opportunities to declutter a shaded window (remove curtains, blinds or shades) or, in the most extreme cases, add a window or skylight. Where skylights aren’t practical because of overhead attic space, consider the smaller and less-expensive alternative known as sun tubes. As their name suggests, sun tubes are tubular skylights that work with reflective surfaces inside to “push” the sunlight down below the ceiling plane from the roofline. They’re great for hallways, entryways, laundry rooms and other usually dark spaces to provide always-on lighting during daylight hours.
In addition to the natural light that cleared or new windows and skylights provide, they also help reduce the lighting bill, so the return on investment by the buyer in the way of a slightly higher purchase price can add up over time.
9) Don’t forget the outdoors
Just as updated landscaping can add tremendous value to a home, adding landscape and other outdoor lighting as part of an overall landscaping plan or for greater visibility can increase the value of your home by enhancing its curb appeal and providing increased security.
When your home is for sale, never underestimate the desire of prospective buyers to drive by your home at night. It’s then when up-to-date outdoor lighting will be recognized as an asset. At most, it should be seen highlighting structural aspects of your home or yard (like pathways, fire pits, specimen foliage, water features, etc.). At the very least, it should be providing a well-lit entrance toward and into the home.
Proper lighting with upgraded LED luminaires or even skylights throughout your home shows prospective buyers an added value because they genuinely change the aesthetics and can make the rooms of the home look bigger, cleaner and brighter. If you’ve repainted all the rooms of your home, as many home sellers do, new lighting can also enhance the appeal of the new look and even bring a sense of well-being to formerly dated spaces. Just keep in mind that significant installations, both inside and out, should typically be done professionally; reconsider the do-it-yourself route when upgrading lighting (or plumbing, HVAC, electricity, etc.) of your home for resale.
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