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When to Leave the LIghts in?

It is the best to remove that special ight fixture or any fixture that's personal to you before you put your property on the market. Replace it with something else if necessary. At minimum, make sure your realtor is aware of your unwillingness to part with it. Locally, stores such as Robinson Lighting & Bath Centre and Lighting Warehouse offers many inexpansive and great looking fixtures to choose from. 

October 5, 2011

Market Ready

Q. I have a number of high-end lighting fixtures. Should I leave them in the apartment as a selling feature, or can I take them with me?


A. When you’re selling a home, the expectation is that any hardwired lighting fixtures will remain in place as part of the deal. But it is possible to take certain beloved pieces with you. The most important thing is to be clear about your intentions from the outset, said Brendan Aguayo, a real estate agent and developer with Aguayo Realty Group, in Brooklyn.

“If the seller and their broker are upfront about it, it shouldn’t be a surprise,” Mr. Aguayo said, noting that details on the light fixtures you intend to keep can be written into the contract. “But it could certainly be a point of contention or negotiation.”

As an example, Mr. Aguayo cited the elaborate chandeliers created by the New York designer Lindsey Adelman, which sell for thousands of dollars. (The custom-made chandelier pictured here cost $14,700.) “Her fixtures really create an environment,” he said. “And that can certainly increase the value of an apartment.” Potential buyers might be put off if told that the fixtures were not part of the deal.

To avoid potentially troublesome negotiations over a favorite chandelier, you might want to take it down before listing the property, Mr. Aguayo said. (He also pointed out that Ms. Adelman offers do-it-yourself instructions for creating a “Lindsey Adelman-like light fixture” on her Web site,, which could serve as a replacement.)

Neal Beckstedt, an architect and interior designer in New York who has worked on model apartments and private residences, offered similar advice. “The last thing you want to do is list your apartment with your fixtures, and then change them after everyone’s seen it,” he said, because that could alter a buyer’s perception of the space.

“You have to weigh the benefits,” he added. “If it’s an amazing chandelier and it showcases the room better than other things, it might be a wise investment just to leave it. It’s a small price to pay to get that apartment sold.”

For sellers looking for affordable replacements, Mr. Beckstedt offered several ideas. Circa Lighting (877-762-2323 or “has inexpensive lighting that looks more expensive than it is,” he said. “They’re my bread and butter, and I think that’s the case for a lot of designers.”

But “a paper globe is the easiest, cheapest thing to do, which always looks good,” he said, noting that paper fixtures are sold at Pearl River Mart (800-878-2446 “You can do a single one, or a number of them grouped as a cluster.”

Mr. Beckstedt has even used utilitarian porcelain lamp holders in some homes, pairing with bare silver-tipped or Edison-style bulbs to add some style. “It wouldn’t work in every environment,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend it to my client on the Upper East Side with a five-bedroom apartment, but it would be good in a casual SoHo loft.”

Q. I have an oil furnace. Is it worth converting to natural gas to make my house more appealing to buyers?

A. There are many reasons to convert to natural gas, but it may not make sense as a sales tactic.

“If you do convert your home from fuel oil to natural gas, there is a carbon footprint improvement of around 20 percent,” said Joe Rende, vice president for community and customer management at National Grid, the electricity and gas company. “There’s no soot buildup, and there’s no need to have an oil tank in the basement.”

Natural gas is a versatile fuel and can be used not only for heating your home, but also for cooking, drying clothes, heating water and in fireplaces. Sometimes it also provides cost savings, as it did last winter, when oil prices jumped but natural gas prices remained steady.

Fran Ehrlich, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich, Conn., noted, “In a perfect world, buyers are happier when they walk into a house that’s on gas than a house that’s on oil.” But usually it isn’t a top concern, she said, and it likely wouldn’t have a significant impact on the sale price.

Especially “if you’re in a low-priced house,” she added. “You don’t want to spend those dollars, as long as the tank is inside.”

If you have an underground storage tank that could potentially leak and require an expensive cleanup, however, converting to natural gas might be a good idea. “Lenders typically will not finance if there’s a buried oil tank because it’s an inherent risk,” Ms. Ehrlich said. “We tell our sellers that if they have a buried oil tank, they should take it out” before listing the property, she added. If they don’t, “99 percent of the time” buyers will stipulate that it be removed be as part of the offer.

In that case, if you’re paying a contractor to remove the old tank and install a new one indoors, Ms. Ehrlich said, you might as well convert to natural gas.

But first, make sure there’s a gas main near your property, Mr. Rende said. “In New York State, we have a law: we have to bring 100 feet of main and 100 feet of service free” to connect a home to an existing main. If your property is farther than that from existing services, converting to natural gas could be expensive.

Conversion also requires installing some new heating equipment, and that means hiring a contractor to do the installation. Costs can vary widely, depending on the size of the house and the intricacies of the existing heating system. But “almost every utility has energy efficiency programs,” Mr. Rende said, and they may offer rebates for installing high-efficiency equipment. Ms. Ehrlich concluded, “you have to look at the dollars” required in your particular case, as it might be difficult to recoup the costs.

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.