John's Florida Real Estate Blog


Smell Your House or Sell Your House!

Skunk Most real estate professionals will agree that their buyers will usually make a decision about liking or not liking a home within 10 seconds of entering the house. There can be many things that will make them rapidly form an opinion about a property. Today I will discuss SMELLS. How your home smells can make all the difference in the world. A home that smells fresh and clean will create positive feelings while a musty home that reeks of animals, cooking residue, or smoke will have potential buyers running for the door. Some people are allergic to certain irritants and for them even entering the home could make them sick. Here are some things you can do to minimize the effects of bad smells in your home and make it more attractive to buyers:

  • Have carpets, curtains, and upholstery cleaned, preferrably with a steam cleaner that will not just mask smells, but will remove the causes of the smells.
  • Frequent spraying with an upholstery freshener like Febreeze cannot hurt.
  • If you smoke, for the duration of the marketing period try to smoke outside, on a porch, in a Florida room, a garage, or at least open the doors and windows so the smoke will not linger in the air and in the furnishings. I know firsthand that this can be a hassle for you, but you have no idea how negatively buyers view a home that smells of tobacco smoke. They hate it.
  • Consider painting some or all of your walls. The lingering smell of latex paint gives the house a "new home" smell. You probably know people who love the smell of a new car. It works the same way for a home. If you cannot paint, at least consider washing the walls down with a mild detergent that can eliminate odors.
  • If you have a cat, empty the litterbox VERY frequently. Smells from it can make or break a deal. If you have a male cat that has "marked his territory", clean these areas vigorously to remove the smell. Sometimes it is even necessary to seal the area if the urine has penetrated into the wood or concrete of the structure. If you do not do this, expect thousands of dollars to come off the price of your home and your home to spend a long time on the market.
  • If your home is a vacation residence and will be vacant when it is shown, please do not put moth balls around the home. Their strong smell is unpleasant and could trigger allergic reactions. It is better to spray the perimeter of your home with insecticide or put out pest baits.
  • By the same token, if the home is not currently lived in, leave the air-conditioning on at a high setting like 85 degrees so that it comes on a couple of times a day. In this way the humidity will be kept low and the air will seem fresher.
  • Change the filters in your AC system frequently. This will help eliminate stale smells and will also stop the formation of black spots and cobwebs near your AC vents.
  • While it is not a bad idea to leave a few air fresheners in your home, check out their potency. I was in one home that had one of those plug-in devices. The home smelled like someone had tossed gallons of cheap perfume everywhere. It was so bad my eyes watered! Not a very welcoming thing. In fact that home ended up selling for $52,000 instead of the $69,900 asking price. Still think things like smell do not matter? They do.
  • If you will be around the home when potential buyers will be touring it, you can try boiling cinnamon on the stove or cut an apple in two pieces, sprinkle it with cinnamon & nutmeg. Your house will have the homey smell of apple pie which can create a warm atmosphere for buyers.
  • If the weather is pleasant, consider opening the windows and doors prior to a visit to let the stale air out and the fresh outside air fill the home.

Hope these suggestions help you. Feel free to call me at 813-783-4444 or e-mail me at: if you have any questions concerning this topic or other ways to make your home more appealing to buyers. You can also visit my webpage at:

John Elwell - REALTOR


Bill Nye Realty, Inc.


Licensed in Florida


Comment balloon 0 commentsJohn Elwell • June 07 2007 12:53PM
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