Smells Sink Home Sales

Smells That Don't Sell

Smells Sink Home Sales

There has been a lot written about possible reasons a beautiful home with all the amenities and a great location might not sell. And for every article, valid points are often revealed. But there is one that rarely makes the list, but it should, a home that smells!

Whether you are selling a home or renting out a vacation rental, smells matter. This topic became top of mind after two miserable days in a perfectly lovely vacation rental in Florida that reeked of bacon. The owner no longer smelled it and disavowed the stench. She had become nose blind. But I found it unbearable and after two days I packed my bags and made a bee line for a commercial hotel chain with an available room. I walked away from non-refundable $1,000 paid to the vacation rental. For buyers, it is even easier for them to take two sniffs of a home for sale and turn around and tell their agent “Let’s get out of here, it smells funny.”

In the case of the vacation rental, there was no quick fix for the grease smell. It was in every room and on every surface. A deep clean was needed. And possibly repainting the walls. When getting ready to put your home on the market, ask your agent, a neighbor or friend to give an honest assessment of any smells that need to be remedied. In other words, don’t trust your own sniffer to be unbiased and honest. We become used to our household smells.

Some smells that need eliminating are obvious such as those that come from cooking, spices, cigarettes, pipes, cigars, sneakers, sweat, wet towels, pets, and dirty laundry. But others are less obvious such as plug-in room deodorizers, body spray, candles, diaper pails, moth balls, cedar, potpourri, stain/paint, mildew, and stale garbage in your trash can. Even a day old banana peel can reek.

I once had a home listed that was wonderful in every way, but I kept getting negative feedback that the foyer and coat closet smelled like mothballs and the scent was overpowering. I smelled it too, but the owner insisted they never used mothballs in their home. It turns out that was correct, but they used it under their front porch to keep rodents away and the smell seeped into the home. As soon as the weather warmed up and their landscaper was able to remove the mothballs, the home sold.

Good smells or scents used to mask others can be too much of a good thing as well. If they are too strong or your buyer has an aversion to certain scents it could interfere with the showing. My best advice in this case is that if you feel you must use an air freshener, go neutral. And the best neutral when it comes to selling a home is the gentle smell of cleaning products. Nobody loves a home that smells clean more than a buyer and perhaps their agent. It shows that the seller cares about their home and that they value you taking the time to see it. Glass cleaner and vacuum lines in the carpet sell homes. And, isn’t that’s the point.