Thinking of making a move? In many parts of the US, and at most every price point, we are currently enjoying a Seller’s Market. A Seller’s market means it favors the Seller instead of the Buyer. Simply put, the old law of supply and demand you learned in high school economics tells us that a Sellers Market means there are more Buyers looking than there are homes for sale. Even in a Seller’s market, it still pays dividends to take a few extra steps to get your home ready to sell.
Sometimes the hardest part of getting your home ready for the market is just knowing where to start. A great agent guides you through the entire process from start to finish, and they are certain to give you some pointers - not all of which are costly. In this “Prepping your Home for the Market” series, we will share a few of our best tips and tricks for getting your home on the market AND selling it for top dollar!
Tip #1 - Buy new light bulbs! Not all light bulbs are created equal, and most people simply don’t have enough lumen power in their living spaces.
It used to be that the choice was between fluorescent and warm white incandescent. While those are still options, times have changed. Warm white serves the purpose for most normal room settings when you are actually living in a house, but changing all the bulbs to a higher lumen daylight bulb can make all the difference for a room that seems dark.
Let’s look at the various types of light bulbs and why they make a difference.
Incandescent bulbs are the light bulbs of a decade or more ago, when we didn’t have all the affordable options of today. The pros are that they are relatively inexpensive and you can buy them almost anywhere. They emit a warm light, can be used with dimmers, and usually last up to a year – longer than halogen lightbulbs, but not as long as CFL or LED lightbulbs. They are also not as energy-efficient as other lightbulb types. Going back to about a decade ago, you may remember hearing that incandescent bulbs were supposed to have been banned, in accordance with the (Energy Independence and Security Act) of 2007. The first tier of standards took effect between 2012 and 2014 and it officially phased out 60-watt incandescent bulbs. Back then, many people were filling their shopping carts with 60 watt bulbs, just like toilet paper became the hoarded supply of 2020.
Another round of restrictions was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, but the Department of Energy put that on hold. 2020 was a year that we had lots of other stuff to deal with, so that is understandable.
These new standards would have required everyday light bulbs to use 65 percent less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulbs, but still deliver the same amount of light. Even without being forced to do so, many manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge to meet the current EISA standards. The new phase out is now expected for 2025, and three wester states have already implemented these bans.
Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are one of the most energy-efficient lightbulb types. They give off no heat, contain no mercury, and they emit a bright light. They also provide focused directional light, so they are great for task lighting. Some light fixtures come with LED lights built-in. These are referred to as integrated LED fixtures. They are long lasting (up to 50,000 hours) and are great for hard-to-reach places, like a chandelier in a two story foyer. These bulbs are costly upfront, but can save money in the long run for replacement costs. It’s not just about replacing the bulbs themselves. You don’t want to have to rent a 20 foot ladder to replace light bulbs.
Compact Fluorescent (CFL) are energy-efficient bulbs that can emit a wide range of colors, depending on the bulb you choose. One negative is that they often take some time to warm up and get brighter. We suggest using these to illuminate large spaces, such as basements, great rooms, and kitchens. They are less expensive than LED lights and can last longer than incandescent lights. These lightbulbs contain mercury, so you want to handle them carefully.
Halogen bulbs emit a white light that simulates daylight with the sun directly overhead. They are great for recessed lighting, pendant lights, and under cabinet lighting - and they are both energy efficient and dimmable. The downside is that this lightbulb has the shortest lifespan of all four options. They also warm up very quickly, so they should be kept away from fire-hazardous materials. You should use gloves to change a hot halogen bulb as they can burn you or even explode when the oil on your hands comes in contact with the bulb.
Lumens refer to the amount of light that is radiated, or the lightbulb brightness. Lumens are kind of like watts. The higher the lumen, the brighter the light. To understand how many lumens you need, you should determine the square footage of the room or area you are trying to light. If you are putting your home on the market, we recommend a minimum of 20 lumens per square foot for living rooms and bedrooms. If you have extra-dark rooms with few windows or dark walls, we recommend adding an additional 10 lumens per square foot.
Remember that this is the total number of lumens in the room, not the lumens for each light fixture. Example - a 20x20 living room has 400 square feet. If there are 8 can lights and no lamps, you should have a total of about 50 lumens per can light to show your room in its best light. Remember to add 50% more if the room is naturally dark.
Kitchens need about double the lumens - 40 lumens per square foot, and bathrooms need double that - or about 80 lumens per square foot.
Getting back to prepping your house for the market, you can see that bulbs make a big difference. Take a look at our photos of the same space with regular incandescent bulbs and with bright white halogen bulbs. After spending $200 on light bulbs before we hit the market, we were surprised that those who had seen the space before and after new bulbs couldn’t believe that we hadn’t repainted the entire space. Bulbs make that much difference. You will notice that the adjoining rooms also look brighter as the bulbs were changed in those rooms too - even in the closet.
This home sold for well over asking price in multiple offers, and we think that the $200 investment in light bulbs made all the difference, particularly as we replaced the vintage amber colored Edison bulbs with LED bulbs. You can get LED bulbs in decorative shapes for open fixtures.
Having an agent who thinks of ALL the details, and shows up with a bag of light bulbs, is just one of the ways that you can make sure you are selling your home for top dollar, even in a market where you may think all you have to do is put a sign in the yard and wait for the offers to roll in.