Smell is often the least appreciated of the five senses. Understandably; it may not be as essential as sight or sound – but sellers should never underestimate how important it is to buyers that the place smells good when they are evaluating your home. A buyer’s nose can literally lose you money. Some buyers cannot “see” beyond the telltale scent of your lovable little dog embedded deep into your carpets. Or even the pungent traces of that garlic-onion stew you had for lunch, still lingering in the air.

Even if the buyers love your home, otherwise, and would’ve planned on replacing whatever the offending odor is emanating from — it may be too late. Because in the buyers’ mind, your house “stinks.”

I have literally seen buyers walk through a home’s front door, then exit just as quickly because they smelled something that did not agree with them. That these same homes had so carefully, meticulously staged by their sellers only adds to the tragedy.

Now, does that mean that sellers should ditch their pets, or starve during the showing phase? Absolutely not. It just means that sellers should ask a trusted third party if their house has a smell. Other ideas would be to avoid cooking foods with distinctive odors right before a showing. Be sure to open those windows and let some fresh air in, a few hours a day. Wash all the hard surfaces of the house with a cleaning agent, get your air ducts cleaned, and if necessary, have those carpets professionally cleaned. Everything goes double if you are a smoker.

We have often walked into a home and played the game “What’s that smell?” …Is it a dog? Cat? Cigarette smoke? Mildew?”

Joking aside, smells can seriously frighten buyers off, none more so than mildew. When a whiff of mildew or mold hits a prospective buyer’s nose, it is literally the kiss of death. These smells makes them assume the house has been poorly maintained or conceals deeper defects, such as leaky roofs and pipes. Of course, if this is actually is the case, and a leak or other serious defect is behind the awful stink, the buyer needs to seek a professional to address the cause directly, and never just mask the odor.

However, if the house just smells a bit musty for one reason or another, take the time to correct it. You don’t want to sell your home short over a minor fix.

Having said all that, be sure not to overdo the Febreeze or Lysol sprays, either. It’ll backfire just as much as pouring too much perfume over yourself before a big date. Honestly, the best smell to a buyer is a generally fresh and clean ambiance. Wash every surface of your home, (get out the toothbrush and scrub between the cracks!) then give it some time to air out.

Nothing excites a homebuyer more then the lovely fragrance of a clean, well-maintained home.

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