Bad Smells a Deal Breaker for Home Buyers

By Peter Sarmas on 10 Jul 2013

Bad Smells a Deal Breaker for Home Buyers










Do you have a property for sale that just doesn’t seem to be getting any interest from the buying market? The problem could be simple – your house is giving off the wrong scent. Recent research suggests that unappealing odours in homes could be sending buyers running in the opposite direction, costing you money.

According to Dr Avery Gilbert, a psychologist who studies human responses to scents, “bad smells will put people in a bad mood”, consequently putting them off your property. Dr Avery, who has worked alongside Air Wick, the air freshener manufacturer, claims “people may not be as attracted, even if it is a fine property.”

Tobacco and animal scents are usually the most off-putting, and these can be the most difficult to get rid of. For some people, they give the impression that the house is unhygienic, which can be so unappealing it can cost the sale of the house.

These bad odours might not be the only thing deterring potential property buyers. Although Dr Gilbert says a pleasant smell will put people in “a better mood as they are exposed to it”, in turn making them more positive towards your house, she warns that homely smells like cooking and baking can also have a negative effect on a buyer. Dr Gilbert explains that while smells like these are nice, they can make buyers feel like they have walked into someone else’s home – which in turn impairs their ability to picture themselves living in the house and making it their own.

So how can you find a happy medium? You will have the most luck with scents that are clean and fresh, but remember it’s better to remove the cause of the bad odour rather than cover it up. First impressions are very important to the buying market, so you’ll want to do all you can to maximise the chances of people having a positive first reaction to your open house. Don’t ruin your hard efforts by forgetting to freshen up your scent. Remember to paint your front door jambs – a quick and easy job that will give your home that fresh paint scent – and fill the house with aromatherapy fragrances, because these are both natural and pleasant. Ultimately, it’s important to ensure the scent you choose isn’t overpowering.

About the Author

Peter Sarmas is a Certified Property Investment Advisor (PIAA) and Vendor/Buyer Advocate. Before becoming the founder of Street News, Peter completed a Degree in Applied Science (Chemistry) and a Graduate Diploma in Property Valuations (Hons). Peter believes property investing is a major and potentially risky undertaking. In his view, everyone should have an independent person acting on their behalf when seeking property investment advice.

Leave a Comment2 Comments
  1. Aly said...

    My husband & I have had our house on the market for a little over 3 months now. I know we’ve lost a few potential buyers due to the cat litter/food we keep in our basement. The basement is unfinished, so no wall to wall carpet. We also have a self-cleaning litter box. We’ve tried EVERYTHING to help – plug-ins, sprays, candles, fans; you name it! While they’ve been somewhat beneficial, for those who are not used to animal smells at all, are sensitive to it. The rest of our house smells fine. It’s only the basement that has caused complaint. Any tips or advice??? We want to sell badly!! Thx!

    July 19, 2013 @ 7:07 am


  2. Peter said...

    Dear Aly, thank you for your question. It’s a very difficult situation when selling a property. Appearance and smells can make or break a deal as you have already experienced. After speaking to a number of people who have suggested more candles and home remedies the best suggestion we can make is to think about taking your pet cat to a “pets hotel” or cattery and remove the food and cat litter box altogether from the basement. Lack of ventilation in a basement wouldn’t help the situation. This is a last resort for your situation and may not be an option but worth considering if only for a short time until you sell your home. Speak to your current agent or another agent and get their honest opinion on the matter. Regards, Street News

    July 19, 2013 @ 12:44 pm


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