Masking Home Odors May be a Mistake - Clean First - Smells Don't Sell!

By
Real Estate Agent with Crye-Leike REALTORS® 165062

"What the hell is that smell?" Have you ever heard your buyer yell that?  The next thing they say is next!  Many times in real estate it has been my experience that when showing a home that the listing agent uses potpourri pots, deodorant's for the furnace, too much deodorant, cinnamon brooms, that one cannot help but think that a greater issues is being masked like mold that cannot be re-mediated.  They over did it! What are you trying to hide is the thought that runs through your mind over and over!

Many home buyers have allergies, and asthma, or their children have it.  They are very susceptible to smells, smoke, filth, mold, pet odors, and cooking smells.  Many odors are not deal killers, but when you come into a home and it sells worse than a funeral home with a flowery smell in the middle of winter we have a definite problem that needs to be addressed.  When the smell of cinnamon is so strong that your eyes water up, what is the point?  Even a blind person knows something is up.  They can also smell a dirty home!  Their point?  "Next!"  No sale is my point!  You want to sell a home for your seller, I want a home that in good conscience I can sell to my buyers.

Masking odors is not a substitution for cleaning a home correctly.  You cannot hide the symptoms, if you have not attacked the source, get rid of all bad odors.  Perfumes and colognes are not a substitute for bathing!  The following is a small list, based upon our experience in the business that works.  I will not list a home where the seller is actively smoking in home.  They will not sell, and smell liek a toilet!  Carry a can of Lysol Linen Scent in trunk of car, do not use any over powering deodorants.  If showing a vacant home show up 45 minutes early and open windows.

  1. Clean ovens, exhaust hood and range-top.
  2. Scrub kitchen - cabinets, and countertops.
  3. No heavy cooking or deep frying
  4. Avoid curry, shrimp, garlics, and beer bottles empties
  5. Cakes and cookies are a plus
  6. Clean refrigerators - leave baking soda in both sides of refrigerator.
  7. Toss all garbage and diapers ASAP
  8. Laundry - just do it, do not leave for weekly wash.
  9. Change pet pans frequently.
  10. Keep pets outside or kennel when possible.
  11. Air out pet beds.
  12. Remove heavy drapes, and curtains especially in a smoker's home.
  13. Remove newspapers and magazines from home (newsprint creates a stale odor).
  14. Mop all floors, and tiles.
  15. Clean all Glass windows and light fixtures - (grease sticks to them)
  16. Clean carpets professionally - do not do chem dry.
  17. Paint entire inside of home
  18. No smoking inside.
  19. Change all air-filters.
  20. Clean all toilets and leave bleach in them.
  21. Have fireplaces cleaned.
  22. Open all windows and air out home.
  23. Paint garage and basement floors.
  24. Garbage cans outside when possible.
  25. Dust woodwork, and polish furniture. 

Jim Crawford

 

 

 

 

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James Crawford ABR, Broker Associate

 

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
179,782
Jenniffer Lee
RE/MAX Complete Solutions - Boca Raton, FL
Broker/Owner/Realtor at RE/MAX Complete Solutions
Absolutely! If they can't do it themselves have them bring in a cleaning service.  It will be wll worth the money.
Feb 11, 2008 06:05 AM #35
Rainer
3,594
Rachael Bishop
RE/MAX Complete Solutions - Boca Raton, FL
I like that "smells don't sells" and you are definately right.
Feb 11, 2008 06:49 AM #36
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Jenniffer Lee   I totally agree!!
Feb 11, 2008 07:36 AM #37
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Rachael Bishop  Isn't it great?
Feb 11, 2008 07:36 AM #38
Rainer
169,402
Laurie Logan
Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Broker Associate - Madison, WI
South Central WI Real Estate

You are so right, every place has its 'smells,' and the owners are usually immune to them!

Great primer on prepping a house for sale!

Feb 11, 2008 04:13 PM #39
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 Laurie Logan  We have to start somewhere!
Feb 12, 2008 01:03 AM #40
Rainer
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Jessica Cordell
Century 21 Hendershot Realty - Madisonville, TN

That is a great check list for a home owner who wants their home to sell. Jessica Cordell

Feb 12, 2008 05:23 AM #41
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 Jessica Cordell  Thanks!
Feb 12, 2008 06:39 AM #42
Rainer
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Matthew Zgonc
Aksland Real Estate - Modesto, CA
Realtor, CFS, CVS
Good hints Jim, I really appreciate it.  I agree it is better to clean a house and have it show as clean, rather than the fish and roses smell.
Feb 13, 2008 01:25 AM #43
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"
Jim,  I have actually refused to take listings where it was obvious the seller wasn't going to take anyone's advise about "putting your best foot forward"  My huband had al iisting several years ago where the fleas junped out of the carpeting as you walked on it (tenant occupied) - the owner had the carpeting ripped out,had the home sanitized and recarpeted
Feb 13, 2008 01:32 AM #44
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Karen Kruschka - One of the most experienced agents in Northern Virginia  Oh I forgot about fleas!  Ouch!  Do not get me going!  We had a similar experience and walked out of the listing.  Real estate isn't really as glamorous as they make it out!

Feb 13, 2008 01:40 AM #45
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Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA
FrankRubiRealEstate.com
Jim, great points for the sellers. I always recommend a deep clean. Just like in Baseball take that extra step back to make sure you catch the ball.
Feb 14, 2008 02:19 AM #46
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Feb 14, 2008 04:15 AM #47
Rainer
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Jacki & Jerry Shafer
The Shafer Real Estate Team, Keller Williams Louisville East - Crestwood, KY
The Shafer Team, Call 502-643-SOLD

WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree!  I'll never forget a listing we had where the family cooked with curry.  Always that heavy odor lingering in the air.  We asked permission to have the home cleaned while they were gone.  First we opened every window for three days, then had it scrubbed from top to bottom.  Thankfully it SOLD before they got back and started all that cooking again!! 

A fresh clean smell goes a long way toward getting the home SOLD!

Great post! 

 

 

Feb 15, 2008 11:18 AM #48
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 Jacki and Jerry Shafer  I love that line...."A fresh clean smell goes a long way toward getting the home SOLD!"
Feb 15, 2008 11:21 AM #49
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
I had a horrible problem marketing a home that had a terrible smell of smoke.  It was in everything.  They put in new carpet and painted, but it was still there.  Used an ozone generator at the suggestion of another agent in the office, and for the low price of a $200 rental of the machine, the house didn't smell anymore.  35 years of a closed home with two heavy smokers was finally gone.  The house sold two weeks later.
Feb 16, 2008 03:41 AM #50
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Chris Ann Cleland  Wow! Life in the trenches!  Smoking is so taboo these days!  No sale with a smoke sell!
Feb 16, 2008 05:25 AM #51
Rainmaker
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Paul Howard
Paul Howard, Broker, Paul Howard Realty 856-488-8444 - Cherry Hill, NJ
Paul Howard Realty, 856-488-8444

 

Here is another reason the owner might want to get rid of the smell.  I got into real estate in the  mid 80s as an investor.  I was turned off by homes with bad odors but sometimes bought them anyway if the price was right.  I found that the smell was almost always easy to deal with by cleaning - sometimes replacing carpet etc.

 As time went on I realized that no one was making offers on these homes.  Odor is POWERFUL.  So I decided to low ball a few and when accepted I realized no other offers had been made - probably due to the smell.  From that point on I decided that the smell in a smelly house smelled like money. I could get a great deal clean it up and make more money because of the smell.

As a broker, I tell my clients that even today. "It smells like money."  Some will give it a shot - put in a low offer and get a good deal because no one else was offering.

 

 

 

 

Feb 17, 2008 12:07 PM #52
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Paul Howard  How clever!  I absolutely love that approach!  "It smells like money!" 
Feb 17, 2008 02:54 PM #53
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Spencer Blua: I am not familiar with the product, and it sounds a little industrial strenght.  Maybe others may share their opinion.

Sep 16, 2008 10:04 AM #54
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