Friday, January 10, 2014

Let There Be Light!

Whether you're a believer or not, pretty much everyone knows the story of God creating the heavens and earth. And that on the first day, God's very first order of business was to turn on the lights.

"And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw that the light was good . . ." (Genesis 1:3-4)

I happen to be a believer.  But even if I weren't, I'd still be convinced that Light Is Good -- particularly when it comes to selling a house.

Over the summer we were asked to consult on a home that had been on the market several months. It had been shown 35 times without so much as a nibble. The agent and client could not understand why the home had been on the market so long. And after viewing the online photos, we couldn't see the problem either. It was a fairly new home, all brick, great neighborhood, excellent schools, clean, neat, etc. It wasn't over-priced or strangely decorated. It was a truly great home.

The agent and owner theorized that the lack of granite in the kitchen was prohibiting offers, but we suspected the problem was something that we could not see in the online photos. Bad neighbors, cats, a smoker in the home -- you know, one of those things you hate to tell clients. 

We arrived fully expecting to be assaulted by the stench of cat pee, but there was nothing like that to be found. No eyesores next door, no smokers, nothing. The house was as clean and neat as the photos depicted. We were stumped.

We went room-to-room making minor furniture placement suggestions, but there were just no red flags. The only constant was that we kept saying, "You need more light in here." After about the fourth or fifth room, I asked the owner, "Is this how you show the home? Are the lights on or off when buyers visit?"  Well guess what...the lights were off and the blinds closed! Every time a potential buyer entered the home it was like they were stepping into a dungeon.

You could have knocked the agent over with a feather. I watched her mouth literally fall open, aghast at the fact that her client had been showing the home all summer without a single light on anywhere.

There is a reason why the winter causes people to be down and depressed. The grey and gloomy skies and cold temperatures cause a real condition known as SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER. It's no different when your home is shut off from light. A lack of light depresses buyers and prevents offers. Because of the lack of light throughout the home, buyers visiting our client's dreary home were essentially hit with temporary seasonal affective disorder.

In the case of our "in the dark" client, we told her to add lamps to every room and turn them on whenever the home was shown. She did and the house sold within a week.

If you're still skeptical, just take a look a the difference lights can make to the overall aesthetic of a room.

No lights, Blinds closed
See how blah that room looks with no lights on and the blinds closed? It's completely cold and dark. Nothing about that makes me want to go in and enjoy the space. Totally uninviting.

Lights on, Blinds open

Here's the same room with the lights on and blinds open. It's brighter, warmer and the beauty of the room shows. You see details in the accessories and the space of the room seems larger.

Lighting can really make a difference in your online photos too. The pictures above are totally amateurish (meaning they were taken by me). A professional photographer is trained how to use lighting to achieve the most beautiful photo possible. It's no secret. Lighting can make or break a first impression -- even online.

So if you do nothing else to prepare to sell your home, PLEASE....let there be light!


  1. Wow. I can't get over what a change lights make. I never turn mine on. I'll remember this.

  2. I am one of those people who is needs a lot of light. That being said, the difference it makes in the feeling of the room - coziness, warmth, LIFE. Your pictures show that difference. If I were selling a house, I would definitely want the pictures on the internet to show my home with plenty of light. The rooms are so much more appealing.


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