How to Avoid the Top Home Buyer Turnoff

J0402374 The number one home buyer turnoff is something you may not even notice if you are selling your home because you are so accustomed to it, but nothing can kill a buyer's interest in a home as quickly as odors. Sometimes just opening the front door is enough for buyers to say, "NEXT"!

Common offensive odors include cigarette smoke, pets, urine, mildew, mold, cooking. Don't try masking odors with deodorizers…they can make the smell even worse, and if the smell of potpourri or air fresheners is too strong buyers may wonder what the seller is trying to hide.

Not all smells are deal killers, but they can make buyers concerned about potential problems. For buyers with pet or other allergies smells can be even greater cause for concern. Eradicate odors to present a clean, fresh atmosphere.

Here are some ideas to make your home smell sweet…

  • Clean, clean, clean!!! – deep clean every nook and cranny, including closets (get rid of those dirty, smelly sneakers!), ovens, refrigerators, toilets, showers and tubs, carpets, windows and window coverings, bed linens…and don't forget to look up to clean those dust bunnies on light fixtures and fans
  • Remove mold and mildew and clean with bleach solution – if it's just a little built up over the years in basement corners, etc this is often sufficient to take care of it, and there are also solutions specifically designed to treat mold and mildew; check downspouts and exterior grading to make sure there is adequate drainage away from the foundation to prevent it from coming back; if mold is a significant problem, hire a professional to both abate the mold and stop the source of the problem
  • Remove old newspapers and magazines – newsprint creates a stale odor
  • Paint – fresh paint not only looks and feels fresh, it can also cover smells that may have been absorbed into the walls
  • Avoid strong cooking smells and deep frying – grease not only smells, it also collects dust
  • Remove smelly garbage and diapers ASAP – get in the habit of collecting and removing garbage each day
  • Keep pet areas clean – air out pet beds, clean litter boxes daily
  • Open windows to let in fresh air – I remember my grandmother opened windows for at least a short time every day, even in the winter!
  • Avoid smelly cleaners and deodorizers – they can make smells even worse, can cause an allergic reaction in some people, and sometimes make buyers wonder what you are trying to cover up
  • Run an orange or grapefruit through the disposal – doing this right before a showing leaves a fresh smell
  • Bake cookies or bread, use your crockpot – nothing is as welcoming as good smells coming from the kitchen, just be sure that the smells are not too strong

If you own or are considering buying a property with severe odor issues…such as smoke, urine, dander, mold, mildew…you may consider an odor removal service that uses ozone to neutralize  smells. It doesn't just mask the odors, it is guaranteed to oxidize any odor problem. However, you cannot live in the property while the treatment is taking place…which may take weeks, depending on the severity of the odor. I have had clients use the services of Odor Man…it works!

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results -


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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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