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5 Tips for Making Your House Smell Good for Potential Buyers

Your home's first impression can either captivate or repel would-be buyers, inciting an on-the-spot offer or an immediate “thanks but no thanks.” The home's smell can be a key factor in making a positive first impression, so don't let yours hinder your homes performance.

Your home's first impression can either captivate or repel would-be buyers, inciting an on-the-spot offer or an immediate “thanks but no thanks.” The home's smell can be a key factor in making a positive first impression, so don't let yours hinder your homes performance.

We all know the fresh baked cookies trick that swaddles would-be home buyers in a warm, homey vibe, but let's kick this up a notch. A clean, lovely smelling home is more difficult to come by than one would think. Unless it's new, most homes tend to develop certain odors throughout their lives.

Origins of the smell can depend on location, period built, building materials used, or the prior owner's predilection for fostering kittens, simmering sauerkraut, or burning incense.

No matter your home's prior history, there are a few key ways to rid your home of lingering odors. If you're gearing up to sell or recently purchased a home with a lingering odor, here are a few tips that will hit the reset button on your home's scent.

Neutralize the Source

Firstly, remove all items that could contribute to a bad-smelling home. While that may seem obvious, odor instigators can hide right in plain site, molding in kitchen cabinets, rotting at the bottom of a garbage can, or emanating from mildewy weather stripping.

If you're taking initial steps to sell your home, it's best to purchase new trash cans, bath mats, shower curtains, and any other highly used home furnishings that frequently see water, dirt and grime. Hiring a professional cleaner to do a deep clean is advisable as well.

Chances are, if you've recently purchased a house with a foul smell, an obvious source won't quickly present itself as its previous occupants should have cleared everything out upon closing. Check in closets, cabinets, shelves, the refrigerator, crawl spaces, attics, and behind large appliances to see if something smelly was left behind.

Hard to Target Smells

Lingering odors aren't always attributed to a tangible, present object, food source, or dirt build up. Sometimes a house just has a specific smell that you can't quite place your finger on or figure out its origination point.

Placing bowls of coffee grounds around the home can help absorb smells. Running chopped lemons through the disposal, pouring apple cider vinegar down drains, and leaving open boxes of baking soda in musty areas can also help neutralize the air and unspecified odors.

In other instances, it's obvious what the smell came from, even if the offending party has left the building. Cigarette or marijuana smoke can leave lasting smells in a house long after the user has parted. Maybe you purchased the house site unseen or you inherited the home from your Capri 120's loving great aunt, either way, you can't live in a smoke infused home.

Give the walls, baseboards, doors, and floors a thorough cleaning. Wash walls with warm, soapy water and rent a steam cleaner for carpeted areas, drapes, window seats, and any other upholstered surfaces. If the smell persists, you may consider ripping up the carpet, painting the walls and washing surfaces a second time with vinegar and baking soda.

Lingering pet odors can often be combated with a thorough deep cleaning. Pet hair, urine, and mud might have stuck in hard to reach places that the previous homeowner might have missed cleaning during closing.

In most cases, pet urine is only surface deep. However, if left uncleaned, can seep into carpet pads, floor boards, and even concrete. In this case, it might be best to hire a professional cleaner or rip up the affected area to clean underneath with an enzyme-based cleaner.

Behind the Scene Smells

If the home has a musty or damp smell, check the air ducts. This is vital if you live in a warm, humid climate as mold can spread quickly. Replace certain sections of your home's ducts if mold or moisture is discovered and it should take care of the smell.

A sulphuric smell, or rotten egg odor, can signal a gas leak. If this is the case, remove all living beings from the home and call the natural gas provider. Rotten egg scents can also be from the water source. If the home uses well water, bathrooms and kitchens can take on a slight sulphur smell.

Last Resorts to Remove Odors

If you simply cannot get the smell out of your newly purchased home, burn it to the ground and start fresh. Only joking. Luckily, modern technology has gifted us HEPA air filters and ozone generators.

HEPA filters are a safe and effective solution to removing odors from the house as they trap pollutants and filter the air in your home without the use of chemical interference.

Ozone generators are another, though more intense process, more removing scents from the house. You can rent an ozone generator or hire a professional cleaning company that will most likely utilize the same machine to treat your home. Both methods are extremely effective in removing set in odors.

Whether you're buying or selling, it's important your home has a clean, fresh scent that is inviting to future buyers or that promotes a welcoming atmosphere in your future sanctuary. Clever Partner Agents in your area know what's appealing to local buyer and can help guide you through the home selling process, from start to finish. Contact Clever today for a no-obligation consultation.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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