Let’s talk about smells

Smells. Seriously, I would go out on a limb and say that our sense of smell is probably the most powerful of our senses. Think about it – you can catch a whif of something and instantly be taken back to a very specific memory or time in your life. I would even guess that you can still remember exactly how your childhood home smelled (and you never really even noticed the smell until you returned home from a vacation!).

Sufficed to say, if you are planning to sell your house, the smell can be a deal-breaker for a potential buyer. We have smelled everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in houses throughout the years and I’m going to tell you – the best smell in a house is no smell at all.

There are obvious smells that you know people will be averse to (including cigarettes or animal smells) but you also need to keep in mind if you are on the market that even pleasant smells (Plug-ins, air fresheners, or essential oil diffusers) can negatively effect a showing if the buyer does not like the smell or if it is too overpowering. I had a buyer not even tour an entire house (that she may have ended up liking!) because the sellers had an overwhelming scent of cinnamon (think the cinnamon brooms found in the entrance to the grocery store in the fall). This buyer hated that particular smell. This is not a bad smell but it worked against the seller in this case.

Because we truly cannot always smell the smells in our homes (think about the Febreeze commercials where they say you’ve gone “Nose Blind”) it’s important to pinpoint any smells before you go on the market. Invite some friends over who will give you an honest opinion (and not when you’ve been cooking or baking). Ask your Realtor®. These people will be honest with you.

If you do have some smell issues, not to worry, they can be dealt with! Here are some things you can do to help rid the house of smells.

1. Have the carpets, rugs, upholstery and curtains professionally cleaned. Smells really do trap themselves in these soft surfaces and a thorough cleaning can help eliminate the deep-down smells.

2. Keep dog beds clean and dog hair swept from the floors. You’ll be doing this anyway for showings (you don’t want dog hair all of the floors when a buyer is coming through!) but washing any dog beds regularly will help keep that smell at a minimum.

3. Clean cat litter DAILY and change it every few days. If you have the “Cat Pee” smell anywhere else in the house, try to pinpoint it and get rid of it. Cat pee is one of the most unpleasant smells we encounter in homes and it’s usually because the cat has been going in one or a few specific spots outside the litter box. Find those spots and treat with a special cleaner dedicated to pet odors (I like Nature’s Miracle).

4. Change your AC Filter if it’s old.

5. If cigarette smoke is the problem, I can almost guarantee this will be a deal-breaker for most buyers. If you are thinking about putting the house on the market and you smoke in your house, immediately start taking it outside. Getting the cigarette smell out of a house is a tough job, but it can be done and needs to be done before you go on the market. If it’s seasonably appropriate to do so, open up your windows and let your house air out. Look at #1 above and have all of the soft surfaces professionally cleaned. If you are not planning on keeping all of your furniture after your move, considering getting rid of those pieces now. Also, I would highly recommend painting the walls and trim. This will help the odor but will also brighten up the yellowed trim that was created as a result of the tobacco.

6. Don’t go crazy with air fresheners and oil diffusers for showings. When they are overpowering it can be as much of a turnoff for a buyer as some of these other smells we have discussed.

Remember – the best smell in a house is NO smell at all so that your potential buyers can focus on the great house you have!