So often home owners and agents alike put all their focus on curb appeal, staging, and even the Feng shui of a home, while forgetting to address what could be a complete deal killer… the smell of the home.
Buying a home is often as much of an emotional process as it as a financial one. The slightest, seemingly inoffensive smell can leave a buyer with a lasting negative impression and affect the likelihood of receiving an offer on your home.
Two of the most common culprits are pets and smoke.
Cats and dogs may be fantastic to have around the home for companionship, but they leave an odor. Because you live with your pets, you may have grown immune to the problem. However, you should be aware that potential buyers will notice right away, and that will affect the price of your home. The best way to ensure that your pets don’t harm your chance of achieving the price you want for your home is to remove all signs of them for viewings. This may sound like a horrible suggestion (don’t blame the messenger) but it is worth keeping in mind that most people don’t own house pets, so strange smells or the sight of animals may tarnish their first impression of your home. If urine has gotten into the carpets it can be extremely difficult to remove. There are some excellent enzyme-based cleaners on the market that can neutralize urine effectively, but hiring a professional cleaning company that specializes in pet odors is probably the safest course of action.
If all the warnings about your health haven’t motivated you to quit smoking, perhaps a jolt to the real estate pocketbook would do the trick. A study of real estate agents in Ontario, Canada, suggests smoking could reduce a home’s resale value by thousands of dollars. Real estate agents told pollsters commissioned by pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer Canada that having a regular smoker in a home can reduce its value by 20 percent, on average. That is a HUGE number… Do you know what your home is worth? Let’s say its $300,000 – well if you smoke inside your home it could be worth $60,000 less!! Agents surveyed said smoking will reduce a home’s value by some measure. One-third said the reduced value may range from 20 to 29 percent. Personally I would be concerned if the home would sell at all. It’s been my experience that often a buyer won’t walk past the entry when they smell smoke. Low inventory or not, there is always another home that doesn’t have that smoke smell.
Watch Real Estate reality TV? David Visentin, realtor and TV personality (Love it or List it) has this to say, “It’s a matter of appeal, smoking has a profound impact on how appealing a home is to a prospective buyer,” he said. “It stains walls and carpets, and leaves a smell that can be hard to eliminate. Many prospective buyers are really put off by homes that have been smoked in, and they can be very challenging to sell.”
The best way to find out whether or not your home smells is to ask someone who doesn’t live there to give you the brutal truth. Your real estate agent is a great person to ask but it can be hard for anyone to give you such news as it can be a bit sensitive to hear so consider asking a few people for their opinion.
So, what are the best smells to have in your house when people are coming to view it?
Hands down a clean smell is the way to go. Buyers want a house that is clean so if your house smells clean then that is a big plus. This doesn’t mean going overboard with Pine Sol. You don’t want people choking on fumes as they walk in. Dilute your cleaning products and give the house a frequent good cleaning.
Simple easily identified smells are also preferred. Think oranges or lemon but keep it simple, don’t add things like mint or basil into the fold. Just cut up some citrus fruit before you leave for your Realtor to show your home.
If you are going to do flowers, put them in a classic vase on the kitchen table, make sure they are fresh but also that they are not too strong.
The most important thing to remember when getting your house ready is that none of the above aromas should be used to mask other smells. You really do need to thoroughly clean your house from top to bottom and eradicate all bad smells as much as you can, Febreze is your friend and air plug fresheners or not!