Do Sellers Have Smellers?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Ryan Taylor Homes

Early in my real estate career, I read an article titled "If You Can Smell It, You Can't Sell It." I don't remember the author, the publication, or even many of the details, but the catchy title has always stuck with me.

It has stuck with me because it's catchy, but also because I am confronted by the challenge of talking to sellers about potentially offensive odors in their homes in almost every listing.

Pet odors are the most frequent odor problems, but lingering smoking and cooking odors also present their fair share of challenge.

Now, it's really not that hard for me to talk to people about the smoking odors. People are used to getting beaten up about smoking. Everyone knows smoking is bad for you and offensive to other people. Plus, once they get the odor cleaned up (I won't even go into THAT in this post), they can just go outside to light up.

But to tell someone that Mr. Sloppy and his smell might offend someone! Or that not everyone likes sauerkraut, fish, or whatever! People take these things personally! Add to that the fact that most people can't smell their own house, and, well, I've never found a solution.

How do you introduce the issue of odor with sellers. How do you make them aware that the odor needs to go without having them "shoot the messenger"?

I'd love loads of feedback on this. The problem of smell really stinks!



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Jim Crawford
RE/MAX Paramount Properties - Atlanta, GA
Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR

No they don't, and that is exactly why we are there. We are there to tell the truth.  Smelly dogs, diapers, stale smelling basements, bathroom shower and tile mold, locker room smells, pet smells, curried shrimp, strong ethnic cooking odors, garlic, ...we have to relay the truth if we are representing the sellers.  I think that is why real estate can be so painful is that sometimes we feel we would choke on the words before they come out of our mouths comfortably. 

I guess that is the difference between the agent that sells the homes they list, and the agent that list a lot of homes that expire or are withdrawn from the market.  It is not a personal attact it is an objective observation.

Jim Crawford

Jan 23, 2007 06:56 AM #1
Karen Villa Schweinfurth
RE/MAX Northwest Realtors, Inc. 425-308-3669 - Everett, WA
ABR, CRS, SRES, CyberStar

You need to be honest with the seller. We can words things that aren't so painful - use tact. I recommend air freshners, simmering spices, or a candle (only if they are home)! I even recommend they bake before  a showing.

If the smells are strong and have affected drapes, etc. I recommend professional cleaning. After all, we are reminding them that we are trying to get them the most money for their sale so they need to be in top condition.

Jan 25, 2007 03:48 AM #2
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