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Does your house smell as good as it looks?


You have found a great house and the listing photos look like they're from a magazine. You schedule a showing with your Realtor and <BAM> the smell of the house hits you like a boxing glove. It happens. It even happens in really clean houses. It doesn't matter what the cause of the smell is, it's likely to be a deal-breaker. The worst part is that if you've lived in the house you probably can't smell what the buyer is smelling. Ask your Realtor to give you an honest appraisal. So how do you make sure your home smells as good as it looks?

1. Tackle your carpets. Have your carpets, upholstery, and rugs professionally cleaned for a fresh smell. One person I know went into a house after closing and the entire downstairs floor had developed a horrible odor that wasn't there during showing. It turned out that after the family had moved out, they had turned off the AC and during a few weeks of bad showers, the air in the house became damp and it settled into the carpets. A quick steam clean and all was right again with the world.

2. Water your drains. If you have a bathroom that isn't used very often, especially if you've already moved out, the P traps can dry out. If there's no water barrier in the pipe, the smell from the sewer will come up into the house. Sewer smell? That's a quick "no" from buyers. It's a simple fix, just go and pour water down the drains every once in a while. Don't forget your tubs too.

3. Pets. We love our furbabies, but they don't always smell the best. If there is any way to board your pets with friends or family while your house is on the market, that gives you a great chance to deep clean the house to remove fur and odors. If you can't, then try to take your pet and their smellies (like litter boxes) with you as you leave for a showing. You keep that litter box cleaned daily, but someone who isn't accustomed will smell it as soon as they're near the room. The same goes for picking up after Spot in the yard.

4. Tackle the bathrooms. Make sure they're scrubbed because a dirty bathroom may cause buyers to walk away. A smelly bathroom that looks clean is just as bad. Make sure that everything is freshly cleaned before a showing and replace your towels with fresh clean ones for an extra boost.

5. Another source of unpleasant odors in a house can be the furnace system. The ductwork in the home may need to be cleaned out. This is a great idea for the health benefits it offers, but also for creating a nicer smelling home.

One big thing you DO NOT want to do is go around and plug in or spray air fresheners. The smells can trigger asthma and migraines in potential buyers and no matter what the Febreeze commercial says, no one will mistake your home for clean if all they smell is something intended to cover up dirty smells. If you're interested in adding a smell, consider baking an apple pie and offering slices by leaving a note for the buyers.