bouquets of various flowers in market

10 offensive odors that may turn a Buyer off…And how to get rid of them.

Smells Can Offend a Buyer, Even Perceived Good Smells

Here’s one of the hopefully few occasions where we have to have the tough conversations with clients and play the mean old Bloodhound.:-)

A survey conducted reveals that 22% of house hunters would be put off a property by offensive smells. A shabby kitchen comes second on the list (21%) and a dirty bathroom third (20%).

On the other hand, poor paintwork is not viewed as a problem by 22% of viewers, excess clutter and a messy garden won’t deter 20% of house hunters and nasty carpets are not an issue for 17%.

dog pet cute

When listing a property, we want the seller to put the home into the best shape possible to attract the biggest pool of buyers. Agents have to be bold and share news that some sellers don’t want to hear. It is our responsibility and duty to tell the sellers if the house has offensive odors.

If I can smell your house, so can the buyer. These odors need to go so the buyer won’t turn around at the door.

Don’t use cover-ups such as plug-ins, scented candles or sprays or potpourri. These can actually make people sick or can just be nauseating and in turn offensive as well. The best way to eradicate odors is to clean and remove the source

Small containers of baking soda or vinegar are natural odor removers that can be placed around the house.

1. Cigarette smoke and Smoke

cigarette buts on brown soil

With so many reacting negatively to the smell of cigarette smoke, this is typically the worst offending odor. Many smokers assume that if they only smoke outside, they will not have interior cigarette odors.

Best Ways to Remove Smoke Smell

– There’s something about vinegar that gets rid of smoke smell.

Because the smell of smoke is caused by the leftover resins and tars, vinegar (an acid that cuts through resin and tar) is a great way to clean those surfaces that aren’t made of fabric, and perhaps, some that are fabric. I know what you’re thinking; vinegar doesn’t smell much better than smoke. Well, that’s true, but the smell of vinegar eventually diminishes, cigarette smoke doesn’t.

– The carpets need to be shampooed if you want to remove smoke smell.

You have a couple of options here; you can either go to your local hardware store and rent a carpet steam cleaner and shampoo the carpets yourself, or you can hire a professional to bring in a big truck and do the dirty work for you. If you want to save money, the choice is obvious, and the guarantees some businesses will make these days smell funnier than the smoke odor you want them to remove. If you do go the professional business route, make sure they’re insured/bonded.

2. Pets

Firstly…. Nobody wants to see a dirty kitty litter box or a dog bone on the sofa, so we need to get that out of the way.

While we naturally think our pets are the cutest, not everyone agrees unfortunately. While not all dogs produce odors, some have a distinct canine smell that’s noticeable the second you enter a home. Cats do, too. Animal urine in carpets and uncleaned litter boxes can be nasty.

Pet rats can often stink up a room, especially if their cages are not well cleaned. Other more exotic pets such as ferrets can also produce smells that can be intolerable to visitors.

Pet odors can be difficult to deal with for two reasons. First, they are companions, and the thought of moving them out of the home during the marketing period does not sit well with many owners. Second, because they all live together in the home, most pet owners become nose blind to their critter’s odors and can actually be offended when you bring up the topic.

3. Cooking smells

cooking dishes herb kitchen

Many cooking smells are heavenly and out of this world but some are usually offensive if the are pungent and get into clothing and walls.

To diffuse them, leave a window slightly cracked while cooking. After you’re done with the meal, boil some cinnamon in water to freshen up the house.

Much like cigarette smoke and fried fish, the smell of curry permeates all the soft surfaces in a home. While some are OK with the smell of food, others cannot stand it, which might result in an immediate turnoff.

The smell accompanying fried fish is equally offensive, but it can be a bit easier to deal with because the smell is often confined to the grease that builds up in the kitchen when frying.

A comprehensive cleaning including the interior of the vent hood can help eliminate this odor.

4. Mold, Must and mildew

food wood dinner breakfast

Only kind of mold we like is the Mold on Cheese.;-)

The other otherwise moldy unpleasant smells usually emanate from moist locations such as bathrooms, basements, washing machines and so on. Most of the time, the cure is to find where the moisture is coming from and deal with it at the source.

A common instigator is showers or baths taken in bathrooms with no exhaust fans. The resulting moisture can permeate the home and produce mold or mildew in closets, behind furniture and other areas where moisture can be trapped. Uncleaned laundry can also be an issue, so make sure there are no stacks of dirty laundry lurking inside a closet or laundry room.

5. Garbage

Take out the trash! Additionally, clean the entire area where trash is accumulated. For example, if the kitchen trash container is under the kitchen sink, then clean the entire area inside the cabinet. Do not allow any trash in any location to be inside a home you’re trying to market.

Even after you’ve pitched out the garbage, those cans hold traces of trash. The best way to banish the smell is to wash out the can. Then, make an odor-eating sachet: Place some coffee grounds, a couple of tablespoons of baking soda, and a few cloves in the center of a coffee filter. Close with a rubber band or twist tie, then place in the bottom of the can, beneath a clean trash bag.

6. Decay

wrecked home furnitures interior

While attempting to deal with a rodent issue, some sellers will put out traps or bait prior to putting their home on the market.

The best solution is to set out traps and then immediately remove any that contain victims. If you use bait, the animal in question can crawl into a space you can’t access, die there and then produce odors you can’t get rid of quickly. This can also happen if a large animal (think: cat, racoon, possum, etc.) crawls into a crawl space and dies.

7. Sewer gas

Occasionally, if a plumbing fixture has been sitting unused for a while, water in the trap can evaporate, allowing sewer gas to enter the home. The easy fix is to pour water down the drain so the trap fills up and blocks the odor.

8. Candles and incense

makeup set with tray beside wall

Some people have fragrance sensitivities and can have a reaction to strong perfume smells from candles or incense. This can include headaches and difficulty breathing. That’s why it’s best to avoid any perfumed device that produces a strong scent.

9. Dirty Diapers

If you have a newborn, dirty diapers need to be taken out and breast pumps should be out of sight. Dirty bottles and breast milk shouldn’t be left out; buyers may get the impression that the home isn’t sanitary. Its probably a good idea to invest in a Diaper Genie if you have an infant.

In fact, store the clean bottles, too, and don’t leave them on a drying rack near the sink. Give yourself a good 20 minutes to pack up baby items before a showing.

10. Offensive Body Odor

action active arena athletes

This odor in my opinion covers Hockey, Lacrosse, Football Equipment if you have children in any kind of sports.

The pads, gloves, shoes, boots, Unwashed Jerseys etc are excellent receptacles for stale, musty and offensive odors. Make sure to leave them out side the home – perhaps in the garage when you decide to sell your home in the middle of an active sports season.

Truth is, smell can affect a property’s value. While some odors welcome buyers in, others can push them back out the front door in short order. If buyers leave in a hurry, any thoughts of an offer leave with them.

When preparing to sell a home, if the home comes with offending odors, it’s best to have a frank and honest conversation with the seller to make sure the smells are mitigated before the home goes on the market. With only one chance to make a positive impression, you do not want a buyer leaving with a bad smell lingering in their nostrils.

Enjoy what you just read? We got More.:-)


Our Monthly Neighborhood Reports and Our Latest Lifestyle Blogs.
Information designed to educate you about your real estate market and Inspire your Living Spaces.

Success! You're on the list.