'This Can Kill a Sale No Matter How Beautiful the Home'

Photo by: Fox Fire Real Estate LLC
August 1, 2019

The home may look great, but if you don’t get this one thing right, buyers won’t be buying, real estate pros say. And that all centers around the smell—the sense that too many home sellers neglect to pay attention to.

Some home sellers may be noseblind to their home’s scent, and they need the real estate professional to offer a fresh unbiased opinion.

“One of the easiest ways to evoke pleasant feelings about a space is to enhance the way it smells,” Ben Creamer, a managing broker in Chicago, told realtor.com®. “It’s often the first thing a person will notice upon entering a space—and it’s one of the things that, when done poorly, can kill a sale no matter how beautiful the home.”

What If Your Listing Stinks?

Good Smells, Bad Smells in Real Estate

How to Create Scent Appeal

To freshen up the smell, scrub all surfaces, wash all rugs, and have the carpets cleaned, suggests Barb Boehler, a real estate professional in Madison, Wis. “Until this is done, you’ll only be masking smells,” she says.

Real estate professionals offer some of the following tips:

  • Clean the fridge: Clean out the refrigerator, which could be a culprit of any bad scents. Lisa Jacobs, an organizing professional and founder of Imagine It Done, suggests leaving a fresh box of baking soda on a shelf to help remove any lingering odors.
  • Carpet cleaning: Carpets and rugs can be a culprit of smells. Get carpets and rugs shampooed or steam-cleaned regularly, and particularly prior to an open house, suggests Jennifer Snyder, owner of Neat as a Pin Organizing & Cleaning.
  • Bake for a smell: Cedric Stewart, a residential sales consultant in Washington, D.C., told realtor.com® that he likes to take out pumpkin or banana bread from the oven prior to an open house. “This provides a great smell and treats seem to stick in the buyers’ mind after they leave,” he says. He says he’ll sometimes brew a fresh pot of coffee to go with it too.
  • Use soap: Gather up all those unused bars of fancy soap over the years and place them in a pretty bowl on a bathroom counter, suggests Creamer. “It can fill a room with a remarkably clean, fresh scent for weeks,” he says. “You can even hide a bar or two in a walk-in closet to freshen the space.” Another trick to freshen up confined spaces: Use laundry dryer sheets, suggests Ben Mizes, a real estate professional in St. Louis. Tuck a dryer sheet in closets or other confined spaces to help make them smell like fresh laundry, he says.
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