April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Staying Focused: The Connection Between Bedikat Chametz and a Home Inspection

A few weeks ago, shortly before our switch to daylight savings time, a great house came on the market that suited one of my customers. I immediately reached out and urged them to come for a showing, as a good house does not linger in this current market. As expected they were very excited and gave me selected times for that coming Sunday to see the house. But that was five days away and so as not to delay, we decided on an evening showing after work aka after sunset.

In realtor school they teach the following rule: Always show a house during the day. Sunlight is your friend and makes everything look better, brighter and cleaner! I would say this is true in most cases and we always try to arrange showings during daylight hours, but sometimes a buyer just doesn’t have that luxury. I arranged an evening showing for my customers and learned a most interesting exception to the daylight showing rule. In the case of a home where the finer details have been cared for rather than overlooked, a night showing can actually be beneficial. You see, sunlight, while being bright and cleansing, also washes away many of the details that are hiding in plain sight. A family room with large windows and sunlight pouring in makes it harder to notice the detailed trim work around the windows and doors as opposed to the same room bathed in warm electric light after the setting of the sun.

Quite the “aha moment” ensued. I recalled two things almost simultaneously, both providing evidence for what I was experiencing. One was a warm childhood memory of the Bedikat Chametz ritual where, right before Passover, Jews will check their homes for unleavened bread and counterintuitively conduct this search at night. With a candle. Why purposely wait for night if the whole point is to actually find the bread? Wouldn’t that search be more fruitful in daylight?

Before we answer, let us jump to the second memory, of a home inspection with a really great inspector. The type of inspector I would use personally if I was buying a house for my kids. The first thing he did when he walked into the home was turn the lights off, even in the basement. Out came the flashlight and the inspection began. He saw the inquisitive look on my face and offered his explanation. “Everything we are looking for is always right there in front of us. But it’s also hiding. Hiding behind all the other things distracting us in the room. Rather than looking at walls to see if they are straight and aligned, free from cracks, we look at the family portraits and the pretty window shades. My job is to turn my flashlight on and point at all the places I know need to be inspected. This way my eyes will be focused on the job at hand and I will actually see things better.”

This is almost exactly what the commentators in the Talmud answer as to why we are specifically told to look at night, with a candle, in order to hyper focus our eyes and see what is otherwise hiding in plain sight.

Who knew that nighttime could make some houses shine! They loved the home, especially the finer details, and decided they had finally found a place they would want to call home.


Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC, located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.

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