Saturday, February 16, 2008

Advice for Choosing a Home When You're SAD

I was out showing homes this morning, almost giddy to be able to spend time driving around in the unrelenting streams of sunlight. I'm one of those people who really suffer during the New England winters, and I've realized that my moods are affected less by the cold temperatures than by the dreary unending grayness that tends to set in around this time in February.

My client and I looked at a selection of smallish homes in Acton, Harvard and Stow. While all of the homes were modestly priced (for this area), and none of them could be described as "fancy," there were a few that made us feel like whistling and clicking our heels, and a few that made us want to scamper out the door as quickly as we possibly could.

What was the difference? In a word, "light." And for people like me who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the abundance or scarcity of life-sustaining light in a house may outweigh other salient characteristics when it comes to deciding whether that's the place you'll want to call "home."

We noticed that it wasn't just the size of the windows that made the difference. Equally important was the way in which each house was sited, and in what direction it faced. Homes that are shrouded by trees may reap some cooling benefits during the summer, but in winter, these places can bring you down even on a bright day.

So my advice to buyers who are light-sensitive is to be sure that you visit a home during both morning and afternoon hours before you make an offer. For example, kitchens that are bathed in morning sun may become dungeon-like after 3pm. There are always things you can do to compensate, of course (such as adding mirrors or skylights or painting dark woodwork with lighter-hued colors), but take the time to investigate before you purchase, so you won't find yourself in a funk when February comes next year.

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