Your pet cat is really a skunk

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty, Westport CT

Many years ago when I was working is Sales Promotion Marketing, I had a boss that would often say in a staff meeting:  "It is difficult to tell the client that their pet cat is really a skunk."  Of course what he meant was that telling the client any kind of negative feedback about their brand was not going to be easy--but it may have to be done.  After all that is what we were hired to do.

Fast forward twenty years later and I find myself in a new industry but still working with clients.  However, now the brand I am hired to market is their home.  And guess what?  I still have days that I have to tell them that their pet cat is really a skunk.  Although this time the expression may be a bit more literal. 



Pet odors, cooking odors, stale smoke and damp/mold odors are some of the most offensive to buyers.  Just like furniture staging, a neutral smelling home is critical as part of the "first impression" and should be addressed before bringing the home to the marketplace.  Yes, giving the seller this smelly bad news may startle them.  The likelihood is that they don't smell a thing.  But remember, you have to be the nose of reason!  Be polite but direct and factually state that it would be in their best interest to eliminate it sooner rather than later.  Most importantly, offer suggestions on how this can be addressed.  Consider some of the following tactics: 

  • Professionally clean carpets, upholstry and draperies
  • Wash/ all bedding including pet beds/crates
  •  For severe smoke odors consider repainting --let the pprofessionals advise if an Ionic paint additive should be used as well. 
  • Run dehumidifier(s) in basements, crawl spaces and damp areas with poor ventilation
  • Wash and degrease kitchen cabinets and appliances
  • Clean and empty liter boxes frequently
  • Smoking should be limited to outside the home and away from opened/screened windows/sliders

Lastly, I am not suggesting to the seller that Fluffy needs to live at Aunt Ethel's for the next few weeks.  However, if they suggest that as an option, repeat after me:  That's a great idea!

Seldom in my 19 years of selling real estate have I worked with  a buyer willing to loop back to a property that they originally ruled-out after their first visit. Don't let offensive odors be that lingering dark cloud hovering over an otherwise lovely home.









Posted by

Nancy Manby  203-856-7069

Serving Lower Fairfield County CT

Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Given the litter box and trained, few cats are skunks as alleged. With Tom he is territorial and will spray.  If owners do not have the patience may be they should not have in door pets.

Jul 30, 2016 08:24 AM
Nancy Robinson Ranked #6 in MI
Century 21 Town and Country - Royal Oak, MI
#11 Century21 Realtor in the US, #16 in the World

Our Olfactory sense, Smell, goes straight to emotional memory .  i.e. something that does not "smell right"  does not "feel right".  

Jul 30, 2016 09:22 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I have 3 cats and I am sure my house doesn't smell vulgar :-)  I would never be able to put my kitties elsewhere, so I would just not move :-_)

Jul 31, 2016 12:17 AM
Nancy Manby

And I have a 95 lb yellow Lab.  I can't smell a thing... 

Jul 31, 2016 08:29 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hi, Nancy!  Your post is on this morning's list - Last Week's Favorites on ActiveRain: July 24th - 30th.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Jul 31, 2016 01:14 AM
Nancy Manby
Keller Williams Realty, Westport CT - Stamford, CT
Your Downsizing Specialist

Thanks Pat.  I'm honored!


Jul 31, 2016 02:41 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

I have definitely been to houses that really smell and alas it is true, so many sellers forget that this sense of smell is a critical one.  Cleanliness is definitely next to "Godliness" when it comes to selling a house!

Jul 31, 2016 02:43 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hi Nancy -- the eyes may buy but the nose often knows too.   

Jul 31, 2016 04:06 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

I love the title of this post, and your advice is oh, so true!

Jul 31, 2016 07:42 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Nancy -- a great post and one that is really important.  Buyers will walk out of a house faster than you can count to 10 if there is an offensive odor.

Jul 31, 2016 01:38 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I have finally traped a skunk who broke into crawl space and call it home. No lease but plenty of organic deposit.  He is a mile away living close to  some rich home owners on a tree.

Aug 01, 2016 12:38 AM
Sharon Kowitz
Cary, NC Relocation Specialist ~ Buying or Selling

Great first post, thanks for sharing. Welcome to ActiveRain and congratulations on your first blog!

Aug 01, 2016 12:14 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I am not familiar with the phrase but your title is a great one. Congrats on a well-written post. Although difficult to address a stinky topic with sellers, it is sometimes necessary.

Aug 02, 2016 10:11 AM
Elyse Berman, PA
LoKation Real Estate - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824

Nancy Manby Great post!  You're so right, most people will walk away from houses that have odors.  Your advice to clean up is solid, and sellers would be smart to heed it.

Welcome to Active Rain!  I hope you enjoy it hear and look forward to more of your posts.

Aug 02, 2016 08:25 PM
Mery Fernandez Empire Network Realty Luxury Brokerage
Empire Network Realty INC. - Orlando, FL
The Rise of An Empire, Let's Build Yours!

Hi Nancy! Welcome to the world of Activerain, may your blogging  create a whole new chapter in your Real Estate Career.

Aug 04, 2016 01:18 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Congratulations on your feature recognition. This is good reading for home sellers.

Aug 04, 2016 08:39 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Suggestion: Use your blog settings to create an automatic signature for your blogs. Readers want to see your contact information.

Aug 04, 2016 08:42 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Nancy. What a fabulous title and supported by great and factual information. Welcome to the Rain.

Aug 04, 2016 10:12 PM
Harry F. D'Elia III
WEDO Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

We would like to welcome you to the AR community. Looking forward to more posts.

Aug 21, 2016 11:50 PM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Nancy Manby What? You mean anyone walking into my home doesn't like my pets? Well then, they can buy someone else's house! Typical logic of insane pet-owners. Great post!

Sep 12, 2016 11:14 PM
Rebecca Lewis
ODAT Realty Services, Inc - Grayson, GA

I have been in that house, many times. I used to smoke and now I am so disgusted if I walk into a home of a heavy smoker.  I'm sure my house probably smelled too and I was nose blind.

Sep 13, 2016 12:31 AM