We toured a home the other day and while it appeared to be very clean....no visible dust bunnies, windows washed, counters sparkled....the unmistakable and penetrating odor of cat urine sent our buyers running out the door. We left a message for the listing agent with a "showing report" that we really could not spend any time in the house having been overcome by the smell. She called back, sure that we had confused her listing with another one because this house had no cat living there....and had not with this Seller.
As a former landlady....and a "Cat Mom" for decades....the odor is unmistakable....and can certainly be the reason for short showings and no offers. The Sellers likely have developed sensory adaptation....having been around the smell for a long time, they no longer smell it.
How can there be a "Pet Problem" with no pet in the house ? What can happen...is when carpeting is cleaned the chemicals in the cleaning solution "awaken" the former pet puddles....which likely have gone thru the carpeting and into the floor boards. When this happens....cleaning repeatedly with wet solutions only makes the smell return and after the "pet deodorizer" that the carpet cleaner may have added to the cleaning solution dissipates, the smell returns.
It is kind of the "lipstick on a pig" story...you can attempt to deodorize and neutralize...but likely, the smell which has penetrated the carpet, the padding and the wood beneath.
The location of the smell is often difficult to detect with air circulation...it appears to be everywhere. Soooo...what is a homeowner/realtor to do ? In years gone by, some cleaning companies had a stick sort of tool that detected urine crystals and could pinpoint the affected areas. In our market, we can no longer locate this item.
Instead.....you need to take a trip back to the 60's....or know someone who "still lives there"....and get a black light...yes, the kind that served as the "staging" for college dorm rooms from California to New York...and that will "illuminate" so that you can eliminate ! Eliminate does not mean continue to clean....at least not in our experience. We have not found an effective cleaner...instead....it means replacing carpet, padding....and what you will see as discolored wood flooring. A more expensive remedy...but one that gets to the problem and doesn't cover it...but removes it. "Cat houses" rarely sell for what they are worth.
Perhaps this blog will inspire others to tell of products and methods that worked in the permanent removal of pet puddle problems...great....the more the better.
If you are looking for the purrrrfect house to call home in Southeastern Wisconsin....call the Hansons...we will be sure that every member of the family...two and four footed is pleased with their new address.