Home Odors that will Scare off Buyers

“Sniff, sniff–that smell is buyers walking away from your odorous abode.”

It may come as a surprise to some, but home odors can turn into a huge problem when it comes to selling your home.

When a buyer walks into a home for the first time, they’re using all of their senses to get a feel for the home and to picture how their life would fit with this home.  And many buyers will have trouble doing this if they can’t get past a bad smell.

A recent article released by MSN pointed out that, “A buyers market is a tough challenge for sellers… Your house has to look a little better, smell a little better and be priced a little better than the other houses the buyer will look at that same day.”

The MSN experts caution sellers not to underestimate the power a bad smell may have on a potential real estate transaction: “Homebuyers don’t want houses that stink. Sellers must identify and remediate odors that make prospective purchasers hold their noses and run for the exits.”

Unfortunately, determining whether or not your home has any problematic smells is not always easy. People get used to the way their own homes smell, making it very difficult to identify a smell that is so familiar to you as one that offensive or unpleasant to someone else

Outside sniffers

The best way to find out whether a house smells OK is to “ask someone who doesn’t live there to come inside and give an opinion,” MSN experts advise.

The best person to rely on for this is the real estate agent hired to sell your home.  It’s important to pick the right agent, as a good agent will always advise on your home’s weak points and ways to minimize or eliminate any potential problem areas.

Pet odors

When it comes to home odors, two of the biggest offenders are pets and cigarettes, neither of which are an easy fix.

“The point might seem obvious, but the first line of defense in any smelly situation is to remove the source of the problem, even if that means a beloved pet must board elsewhere for a while… If the pet is in the house, you’re introducing new odor every day.”

Pet urine, among the worst of bad odors, can seep into the carpet fibers and padding, concrete and wood floors, tile grouting, upholstered fabrics, furniture cushions and pillows.  “Oftentimes…you have to remove the carpet, remove the pad and seal the floor, and then replace the carpet and the pad.”  Cleaning the carpet may help a little, but any humidity will reactivate odors as they rise from the carpet padding or floor beneath.

No smoking

Cigarettes leave a lingering odor, as it clings to furnishings, drapes and other window coverings and work its way inside walls.  According to MSN, “Some topically applied solutions can help to reduce the stench, but an ozone generator, hydroxyl generator or air scrubber should be more effective.”  While these approaches are very effective, there is no guarantee that an odor can be eliminated.

You may also want to consider remedial action, say the MSN experts, in the event that someone suffers a long illness or dies in a home.  In most cases, a good airing may be adequate to remove any odors.  However, “In the case of a violent death, however, professionals who handle what’s known as ‘trauma cleanup’ should be called to do the job. The cost might range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 or more depending on the type of remediation and the square footage.”  For these types of extreme situations, its probably best to bring in professional help: “It may be traumatic for you to do it yourself.”


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