One of the joys of showing real estate is the unexpected surprises that can great buyers as they walk through a home. The good ones are the smell of cinnamon apples and chocolate chip cookies. The bad ones…well, read on to learn about some I have ran into on a recent showing.

House #1 looked great online. While is was quite a bit older than the other two on our list, say 20 years older, the current owners had done quite a bit of remodeling. The first thing we noticed when we drove up was the next door neighbors car collection. Wow, what it must take to service 2 minivans circa 1980, 1 beat up Chevy, and something else we couldn’t quite make out. We decided that wasn’t a total scar on the home, so we went inside. Now here is where the sellers lost us. As I opened the door, the lovely aroma spilled out into the snowy cold. Unfortunately it wasn’t the spell of Roses, or cookies, or cinnamon apples, but the smell all real estate agents know is a deal killer, pet urine.

You have to understand, while I can see a way out of the situation, like giving the home a head to toe bath, husbands are not so forgiving. His crinkled nose tells me that no matter how great the inside looks from this point on, there is no way we will be buying this house. I convince him to go inside anyway. The sellers have done a pretty decent job…a great new kitchen, hardwood floors, and a refinished basement. However even I notice the poor tile job, the unfinished trim, and the shoddy painted walls, and I have to join my husbands prior unspoken position. We decide to move on to #2.

The 2nd home was more expensive than the last and had more square feet. With no bad odor greeting us at the door, we preceded downstairs to the beautifully remodeled lower level. Wow, this was great! It even had a huge office with french doors, perfect for me! As we ventured upstairs, thinking this was the one, we headed to the kitchen. See, I am a cook, so I am very picky about my kitchen…this one got a B, but it needed updating. I could over look this, so we headed upstairs. As soon as we started up, another wonderful odor hit us head on. No, not roses again, but this time mothballs and must. Unfortunately it had to be me to scratch the home off the list, as I am allergic to both these smells. I couldn’t even continue up the stairs it was so strong! Now that my allergies are all messed up, it is useless to proceed to #3. We decide to go home to regroup and venture out on another day.

So what is the moral of the story? Sellers, please get an outside third party to smell inspect your home before you put it on the market. Do not be offended if the report issues you a citation for having a smelly house. If you do not take care of the problem now, the home will never sell. The easiest solution is a thorough cleaning…no, do not just cover it up with a spray. It only adds to the problem. Realtors, do not be afraid to tell your clients their home does not smell like roses. Offer them suggestions to improve it and tell them it will not go on the market until odor is fixed. Why waist your marketing dollars if a seller refuses to listen to you? Anyway, if your home is stinky, you won’t be smelling anything green.

About the Author:


  1. Kathleen Couch August 3, 2008 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Good post. I found your blog from a twitter friend. As a real estate investor I have smelled plenty of stinky houses. In fact a serious RE investor will say, “the smellier the better”. This is because of what you related. People don’t want to buy them. Then an investor can get it at a low, low price. Here is a link to a blog post I wrote that talks about the problem, and gives the solution.
    If you are on Twitter, my Twitter name is kathcouch.
    Kathleen Couch
    Real Estate Investor Girl

  2. Brazil Property August 5, 2008 at 1:39 am - Reply

    You are right. It’s common to the most houses for sale especially due to foreclosure.

    The through cleaning can mess it up. else the result will be low price or no sell, causing the problem worst.

  3. Real Estate in Burlingame, CA August 11, 2008 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    What a great post! I swear some houses I visit, I feel that us realtors deserve a segment on the TV Show, “Dirty Jobs”.

    If you goto your local home improvement stores. They have great paint primers, floor cleaners, etc. that completely kill the germs and clean the smell.

Leave A Comment