Special offer

Help I need advise on a stinky house!

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate

I have these older 'mature' clients with five dogs, two cats, and a room full of large birds.  There is an old dog, a new pup and perhaps a few in between that are not housebroke.  The bird cages get cleaned infrequently and the litter box in the "cat room" is overwhelming.  I first showed this home when it was listed with another agent. When the owners were home they asked me to honestly answer if I felt their home smelled like dogs... "I replied.... "Honestly... I don't smell dog. I own a dog.  It is overpowered by the smell of cat."  It was so bad that hours later I could still smell it on my clothes. Months later the listing expired and they called me to list the home.  I told them I suspected that since they live with it daily they just don't smell it.  But really I suspect it is also that since they are mature their noses are just not as sensitive as my younger clients.  I told them I would be willing to list the property if they were willing to invest some money to prepare the house to sell. They had already removed the carpet on the previous agents advise.  She also intelligently suggested they didn't replace it as it would be quickly in the same condition as the first carpet. Moving out is not an option.  After all, who would rent to them?

I had them remove all the rest of the carpet, and pad and treat the floor with Clorox wood and then one of the products intended for animal odor and we are now in the process of putting travertine tile thru-out the house. A huge and costly adventure. But it made me think while I sit in front of my computer on ActiveRain that perhaps someone else might have a bit of advise.  This is a wonderful home, constructed by a respected builder and only about five years old.  It is in a highly desirable neighborhood.  In spite of their weakness for their animals they are the nicest people. They really need to sell in a bad market.  The location will sell it. But only after all the other homes for sale in this limited neighborhood are sold. Any advise anyone?? Help!

Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

There may be no choice but to also treat the floor joists.  The bacteria that causes that odor is not cured by clorox.  It takes a special enzyme treatment that neutralizes the bacteria. 

I wouldn't sell that house.  The odor, if not completely eliminated will keep coming back.  Concrete is pourous too.  If they have a basement, it's probably there too. 

What a shame.  Their age has nothing to do with it. They are just immune to the odor. 

I'm older than dirt and I can smell that mess before the front door is opened. 

Dec 09, 2007 12:15 PM
Karen Monsour
Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert!
Good luck... I wouldn't haven't even gone there...the wood on the floors will have to be replaced...as well as the dry wall where the animals might have urinated... If they are putting travertine, and have not replaced the wood...you will never get rid of the smell...Well, good luck, hope it works...
Dec 09, 2007 12:16 PM
John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana
I think you would have to remove the smell by airing out the house.
Dec 09, 2007 12:17 PM
Julie Chapman
Julie Chapman Broker - Ormond Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida

Don't laugh but my brother, an attorney, says he has heard in cases where the bodies are left for a long period and the smell is terrible that mouthwash (don't ask me what brand) is put in cloths all through the property and left until it absorbs the odor.......on another note, I have sealed concrete before replacing carpet and pad and never had complaints later......

Dec 09, 2007 12:22 PM
Lorrie Ann Thomas
Realty ONE Group Edge - Woodstock, GA

Vinegar perhaps to neutralize the odor? or Baking soda maybe.

Sometimes the natural remedies work better.  After the vinegar smell disapates it's supposed to take the odors along with it.

Dec 09, 2007 12:23 PM
Jay LaGace
RE/MAX Realty Team - Cape Coral, FL
Cape Coral / Lee County Real Estate - 239-443-8795
Try an electronic air purifier. They work wonders and I know there are companys that will rent them for a few days. Might be something worth checking into.
Dec 09, 2007 12:23 PM
Alix Pinzon
Open Mortgage, LLC NMLS # 2975 - Downey, CA
I just got a puppy, and we're keeping him in a tiled area until we get him house trained.  Like Lenn said, concrete is porous, and so is grout.  Once the animals have spotted that area, it's there to stay.  I would recommend doing everything that you can to correct the situation, keep strong odor eliminators in the affected rooms, lower the price to reflect the situation, and most importantly -disclose it! 
Dec 09, 2007 12:25 PM
Christina Bennani-Persechini
Keller Williams Realty Boston North West - Lexington, MA
Realtor - The House For You
I know servepro and servicemaster both offer services that will get the smell out. If they are in your area check them out, they are known for mold removal but also handle animal smells. Good luck!
Dec 09, 2007 12:30 PM
Lisa Ryan
Callaway Henderson Sotheby's International Realty - Montgomery, NJ
Selling Princeton,West Windsor and Montgomery Town
I would advise painting the entire "cat room with Kilz primer and then repainting.  They need to have at least one litter per 2 cats and scoop twice daily, and use a quality clumping litter.  Good luck!!
Dec 09, 2007 12:42 PM
Melissa Kruse
Gryphon - Lewis Center, OH
Kilz the floors and walls before putting down new flooring and repainting. Also use odorexit. These two things work wonders. We used both to deal with a house that had been a pitbull dog fighting farm. It worked wonders!!!!
Dec 09, 2007 12:45 PM
Linda Scanlan
A Fan of AR - Burleson, TX

Mary, once that smell gets in my nose I can't shake it.  Maybe hiring a professional floor person/cleaner to come in? I'm real sensitive to odor, so I probably would have turned around on the sidewalk and headed home! LOL

I'm sure that once you get the odor out of the house it will sell quickly for you!

Dec 09, 2007 01:23 PM
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
If the animals are going on the carpet, walls then there is a big problem and, no matter what is replaced, they will just keep ruining furnishings, walls, carpets. On the other hand, I have been in houses with cats that were going in the litter, but nobody cleaned it. So, even though they were not fouling the home, the slovenly home owner created the stench by not cleaning litters. You need to figure out which. If they just flat cannot, or will not, clean the litter, get them to hire someone else to do it till the house sells. If the animals are fouling the carpet, floors then it is way more complex. If a carpet can be saved, you use an enzymatic cleaner. You can get them at janitorial stores. The problem is, if the pad or the underlayment below the carpet is stained, then you need to cut that out where it is fouled and put in a new piece. In other words, you can get the carpet so it does not stink probably, but the floor below will stink. Also, while these enzymatic cleaners dry, the stench is worse. As for walls, if they are going there, then you could try the cleaner but might have to replace heavily soiled areas. I know some people have had results with products like Kilz and paint. To isolate problem areas, you can get a black light at a pet store for about $20.00. It will illuminate way more than you want to see.
Dec 09, 2007 01:35 PM
James Gordon
Sibcy Cline Realtors® - Cincinnati, OH
Natures Miracle seems to work but the real problem is going to be getting a place to keep the pets so that the home does not get smelly again.
Dec 09, 2007 10:26 PM
Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton
Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC - Hilton Head Island, SC
I don't think I would have taken the listing because frankly, I wouldn't know how to help.  Sounds like you've done a great job so far.  But is the smell in the walls, fabrics etc?  I hope you let us know how this one concludes.
Dec 09, 2007 10:28 PM
Peggy K.
Grand Property Virtual Tours - Buffalo Grove, IL
Illinois Virtual Tour Provider and Real Estate Photographer
Hi Mary, sounds like you have quite a little challenge on your hands.  You've got a lot of advice here, let us know if anything works!
Jan 09, 2008 09:10 PM