Top 5 smells that send buyers to your competition

This can get touchy…but it is important when you’re marketing your home to get top dollar, so smart sellers ask and smart Realtors are straight forward.  We all know that our noses get accustomed to familiar smells to the point of not noticing them anymore.  However, buyers use ALL their senses when shopping for a home and while visual is the first sense used upon driving up to the house (aka curb appeal) smell is the first one that kicks into gear upon entering the front door.

I chuckled as I was watching the movie Juno last night when the starlet of the movie reminds her friend that he can’t take another girl to the prom because “he hates that her house smells like soup all the time”.  Soup may be offensive to some teens I guess, as are many things.  Here’s the short list of smells that you better NOT have if you’re trying to sell your house.  And these days the average days-on-market is about 100 days.

  1. animal– just about anything related to this category, with waste products from our adorable pets being the biggie.  With my buyer one day, we get to a house and the owner opens the door with their dog announcing our arrival.  I could see the discomfort on my client’s face.  I asked them to hold their dog then spoke with my client.  She confirmed her fear of dogs.  I had to ask the residents to remove the dog, not just hold him, if they wanted their house to be shown.  I held her arm through the entire showing because she was still shaky.  Concentration and focus gone.
  2. smoke – any kind
  3. food – mainly last night’s fish, or cooking with heavy spices.  Fresh baked cookies could be an exception, especially if there are 1 or 2 left over for you know who…:)
  4. bathroom – I think you know what I mean here
  5. musty/mildewy/moldy – likely candidate would be from an unchecked leak, although built-up dust and clutter can leave a residue.

Some remedies:

  • For homes with pets as family members, I believe every situation is different, but definitely get rid of the fur as a first step.  I use a pet fur sponge regularly, not sure if it’s this brand but same idea.  I can’t just say put your dog in a kennel or put him outside.  Some can and some can’t.  What I do is incorporate “pet care” into the marketing plan for that particular seller.
  • De-clutter.  Ask a trusted friend and your Realtor for opinions because if you’ve been living with it for any length of time you are too emotionally attached.
  • Think before you get out the frying pan and spices.  Don’t start the process if you are having a showing or open house the next day.  Some types of cooking smells take days to clear out.  If you MUST cook, “try placing a small bowl of vinegar in the kitchen.  I use strong red wine vinegar”, according to Nancy Gaifyllia.  Or, “simply place a small, uncovered bowl of soda bicarbonate in a corner on the kitchen counter. It will absorb all the smells and leave your kitchen (and therefore the rest of your house) free of cooking smells”, says Petrina Verma Sarkar.  Ad menu planning to your marketing schedule.
  • Give your house a detailing by hiring a professional cleaning service.  This is a very worthwhile cost-of-sale item.
  • Consider getting room fragrance (from local grocer) or air freshener.  My staging contacts say that vanilla scent is best.  Nothing heavy, masking, this is not a replacement for the cleaning!  I tried the Clean Linen scent in my own house last night…this morning the men folk pleadingly came to me to request its removal…so I would agree this one is a bit strong, for our household anyway.

Buying is an emotional process; overlooking the role smell plays into our emotions is leaving a piece of your marketing out of the equation.

A few links to resources that make “scents” to include in this post:

Turn Paint into an Air Freshener – Joseph Ferrara, Sellsius

Recipes for eco-friendly cleaning

How to rid carpets of pet odors

Get rid of sour house smell