Bad smells are one the biggest deal-killers in real estate. If your home smells like pets, mold, smoke or pheromones, you'll repulse buyers. If your home sells at all, it will go for less than it's worth.
It's time to do a dirty job -- identify sources of stinks and deep clean your home.
Since you're living with it, you may be oblivious to your home's smells. Ask your real estate agent to walk with you through your home and not hold back. You need to hear the brutal truth. Does the carpet smell like a puddle-loving dog? Is there moldy smell in your bathroom?
You'll be glad to know that every smell has a simple cure -- better maintenance. When your house is on the market, you can't let things slide as you normally do. You have to be vigilant for odors and keep your place super-clean every day.
Pets: Pets leave fur, slobber, and loose dirt wherever they go. Some dog breeds, like retrievers, are stinkier than others. If Rover sleeps on his own bed, wash it or replace it with fresh bedding. Don't let your dog get ripe; bathe your dog more frequently than you normally would. Chairs and carpets should be steam-cleaned. If you can, remove pet beds, cat boxes and other signs of pet life during showings.
Mold: It takes a combination of standing water, dark closed-in places and absorbent materials to create mold. If you smell a musty, underground kind of odor, you've probably got a water leak somewhere. If you haven't cleaned your pipes in a while, get busy with some industrial strength Drano. Recaulk tubs and sinks. Replace old discolored faucets and shower heads. If that doesn't help, hire a plumber to help you find the source.
Smoke: Nothing will drive 80 percent of your buyers out of your house faster than stale cigarette smoke. Stop smoking in the house. Repaint every wall. Strip and rewax floors. Yes, smoke permeates everything. Everything. Steam-clean all carpets, draperies, curtains, and upholstered furniture. You may even want to move out and let your real estate agent stage your home with fresh showroom furnishings. It's extreme, but so is the reaction of non-smoking buyers.
Pheromones: We humans stink. No deodorant and skipping showers may work for some people, but buyers don't want to smell you and your pheromones, especially if you're not home. Athletic gear, dirty clothes, unwashed sheets and towels, and old pillows and bedding are just a few things that can store body odor. The cure is easy -- bathe more often and don't let laundry build up. Change sheets often, no less than weekly.
We shouldn't have to say this, but there are personal discards that should never be found by buyers, like your "love" towel. Believe it or not, buyers open trashcans. Your agent has probably seen it all - used condoms and feminine hygiene products, band-aids, balled-up Kleenexes, pregnancy tests, and so on. In other words, if it has bodily fluids on it, get it out of the house before your next showing.
If you thought this article was on the raw side, it's only because we know how it is out there. Your real estate agent has seen it all, too, and can tell you that every word is true.