When preparing a home to sell, it is common for us to think about and focus our efforts on how it looks.  Are the floors mopped?  The china buffet dusted?  Is it staged to look homey, yet not to personal?  How about that curb appeal?  Surely the lawn is cut, watered, and perfectly manicured!  But we’re here to tell you, friends – concentration on just the physical, visible selling points of a house can lead to the costly mistake of overlooking (ahem, smelling) the scent of a home.  The unseen, stinky funk of a property can not only hinder the selling process, but completely prevent it, as well.

Studies have shown that our sense of smell is a powerful one that connects the aromas picked up by our noses to the limbic system of the brain.  And THAT is where the magic happens -- smells elicit emotions, attractions and memories. It is a subconscious psychological process that we have no control over.  This means that even if they wanted to, your prospective buyers couldn’t walk into your home and say, “I am going to ignore the wet dog/dirty sock smell and ONLY focus on the open foyer and spacious kitchen that I so desperately desire.”  Nope, it’s NOT going to happen!  So, why not use this super sense to your advantage?  Wow prospective buyers with fresh, clean scents and positive, fond memories of your home after they leave, rather than nose plug-worthy nastiness and feelings of disgust. 

We’ve compiled a list of 3 things you can do to ensure that your home will pass the smell test.

1.  Eliminate smells from their source. What you do to truly eliminate an odor depends on the odor itself, but almost always a good, deep cleaning is the first step.  And by deep cleaning, we don’t mean, a mother-in-law-is-coming-for-the-weekend-and-I’d-better-wash-the-sheets-clean.  An in-depth sanitation might necessitate professional services, but should include carpet cleaning, and washing of all upholstery, sheets, curtains, blankets, and textiles. Carpet that has been repeatedly urinated on by pets (or children! or adults?) might need to be replaced, and walls subjected to cigarette smoke or strong cooking odors should be repainted.  While your home is on the market, be mindful of your meal making! Fish, bacon, onion, garlic, and curry, in particular, are especially strong and can linger for days.  So, while you’re on “home showing stand-by,” try to find a way to curb that Curry Bacon Wrapped Fish with a side of sautéed onions and garlic craving!

2.  Take Fido (& Fifi) with you! Even if you think your four-legged friend is as fragrant as fresh flowers, it is likely that you are just used to his/her scent.  It is called sensory adaptation and it can cause major problems for homeowners if they are unable/unwilling to recognize these familiar, yet not-so-fresh fragrances.  We recommend packing up the pets, as well as any kennels, pet beds, toys, or litter boxes any time your home is being shown to prospective buyers.

3. Bring in a fresh, honest, and objective nose.  Finally, due to the phenomenon of sensory adaptation mentioned above, we encourage you to employ the advice of a close friend or family member who won’t be afraid to tell you if your home doesn’t pass the smell test. Just remember: if they tell you that your house stinks, don’t shoot the messenger.  Your loved one’s upfront (and warranted!) honesty could play a crucial role in the sale of your home!