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When the holidays arrive, everyone starts shopping for lights. But in luxury real estate, agents should keep their eyes on the lighting market for entirely different reasons, and at all times of the year.
“When viewing listings, the lighting is crucial,” says Louis Magnano, Real Estate Agent with Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage. “Good light can make a small room appear larger. Poor lighting can make a spacious room feel cramped, and even the most beautiful furniture can look dull and uninviting.”
Magnano recently experienced this first-hand when he showed a striking home in northeast Los Angeles’s Mount Washington neighborhood to a prospective buyer. Because it was too early in the morning for the home to receive direct sunlight, the client was underwhelmed — but upon taking a second look in the afternoon, they made an offer.
“Lighting appeals to the senses,” says Tracy Wright, Real Estate Professional at Encore Sotheby’s International Realty. “It enhances the room and sets the mood. It can be decorative, showcase art and architecture, or create a cozy space to read a book. Buyers subconsciously build a story about a property just by what their eyes take in at first glance. Cohesive lighting that looks coordinated and intentional tells the story of an inviting, well-cared-for home.”
Just as lighting can transform a listing, light fixtures are also evolving through inventive technologies and improving trends. Here are three ways that Magnano and Wright are helping their clients make the most of innovation when it comes to illuminating their homes.
1. Give the “green” light to efficiency and automation
“A common request among luxury homeowners today is to incorporate smart home technology into everything — lights included,” notes Magnano. “This extends to porch and landscape lighting, which not only adds a little extra security but makes your home look extra classy too.”
Therefore, it’s often not enough to simply outfit a listing with new lights. Instead, sellers and their stagers and agents should think holistically and invest in technology that will enable the home’s lighting systems to be centrally automated and controlled.
And of course, smart technology and sustainability should always go together. “There’s a growing demand for energy-efficient lighting fixtures and technologies among architects, designers, and clients, and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future,” says Magnano.
2. Let decorative statement lights speak for the home
“Lighting becomes the voice of the property, especially if it’s listed vacant,” says Wright. That’s why it’s essential to install lights that are not only practical but aesthetically pleasing. This is even more important in large modern homes, where areas such as pantries and laundry rooms are spacious and attractive.
With many newer builds embracing open-concept floor plans, lighting fixtures are no longer sequestered in closed-off rooms, which augments the need for them to be both cohesive and beautiful.
Today’s innovative lighting designs are helping homeowners have good lighting without sacrificing taste. “For instance, the ‘fandelier’ is one of the most popular models among my clients,” says Wright. “No more debating whether to do a fan or a glamorous light in the bedroom or family room. Now, you can have function and beauty with a light that doubles as a fan, without the large blades.”
3. Take inspiration from high-end experts in your area
Most major cities will have boutiques and showrooms displaying the latest in world-class lighting designs — and in some cases, there may even be studios and ateliers where the industry’s luminaries are actively innovating with new forms and functions.
“Here in Los Angeles, I’m most excited about the latest lighting designs from Entler Studios,” says Magnano. “They make a wide range of ceramic table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers, and sconces that always catch the eye of my clientele. Their lighting can totally transform a room, whether it serves as a centerpiece, a playful detail, or a simple essential.”
A light lift that elevates the whole home
Both Magnano and Wright have observed that lighting has become a conversation piece with their buyers and sellers, which wasn’t necessarily the case a decade ago. But this is a welcome change, as lighting is one of the most low-cost, high-impact home improvements a client can make.
“Updating lighting can take a home from drab to fab, and it’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way to get a lot of mileage for your money,” says Wright. “The lighting budget should be around 1-1.5% of the overall cost of the home when building new or remodeling.”
If done properly, sellers can take years off of a property’s age with lighting alone. Agents can help them do so by educating themselves on lighting trends and innovations and continuously honing their expertise.