San Francisco Real Estate : What IS that awful smell?! You might want to take care that!!

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What IS that awful smell?! You might want to take care that!!

We've all experienced it.  while showing property, or running around on tour, every once in a while we come across that (otherwise lovely) dwelling that smells so bad it makes you wonder if any CSI personnel might be there collecting DNA off a dead body in one of the bedrooms!

 

OK...that might be a little extreme, but you know the type of scenario I'm talking about, right?...Like someone dumped off a truckload of stinky sneakers, old milk cartons and empty tuna cans in the living room, shut all the windows, and cranked up the heat! 

 

Not good...for many reasons. 

 

And, no, this isn't a post to remind everyone to have fresh baked cookies in the oven at their open houses (although, it's definitely one smell that seems to make everyone smile...especially when they see that there really ARE cookies being served).

This is serious stuff that some Agents occasionally overlook when it comes to preparing their listings for public showing.  Why does this happen??  Do I just have an extra sensitive nose?...

Yes... I'm just one of those finicky listing agents that likes to get involved beyond the standard paperwork and typical preparation required to bring a home onto the market.  I also owned a staging company for several years (which will come into play here soon)

When a home smells bad it needs to be addressed in a tactful manner.  The good news is that it's not that difficult a task (like having to tell a colleague that you've had about all you can take from their halitosis).  The truth is, (although it may just be a matter of proper refuse disposal, or cleaning the carpets, etc), there's always the possibility that something else more sinister is lurking underneath the surface.  Mold?  A dead rat in the wall? A plumbing or sewer gap?  Who knows, but it might be worth investigating.  

Bottom line: If you smell it, (and hopefully your olfactory senses are in good shape), then the buyer is going to smell it, too.  They're going to wonder what other surprises that property has in store for them...or if "that's just how the house or neighborhood is, so take it or leave it".  I've seen several buyers make comments like, "this place obviously needs some work", or, "...has some issues that I don't know if I want to deal with"...and all from a bad smell!  Sometimes when I staged properties for other brokers, I would hide air fresheners in strategic spots around the home to try and dissipate a lingering or unpleasant aroma that nobody was obviously addressing. It wasn't my listing, so why should I care?!  Well, for one, I didn't want anyone to think the smell was coming from the furnishings (which it wasn't), and, 2) Selfishly, I wanted that house to sell quickly so as to keep our staging results track-record consistent!    

Remember:  Clever marketing and good value won't always compensate for an unpleasant feel a buyer may get when they walk into a home that smells like...well, you get the picture.  ;-)

Here's hoping that all your listings are fresh and ready to roll...

 

 

 

 

  David Ames 

  Top Producer 

 

  DavidAmes@zephyrsf.com

  (415) 271-2071

Comment balloon 14 commentsDavid Ames • September 01 2010 05:59PM

Comments

Yikes.  Been in those listings and are they ever gross!  In Colorado, the buyer can choose to walk away from a contract because of an odor.  Really- In the Buyer's Inspection Objection, it states:

Buyer shall have the right to have inspections of the physical condition of both the Property and Inclusions, at Buyer’s expense. If (1) the physical condition of the Property, (2) the physical condition of the Inclusions, (3) any proposed or existing transportation project, road, street or highway, or (4) any other activity, odor or noise (whether on or off the Property) and its effect or expected effect on the Property or its occupants is unsatisfactory in Buyer’s subjective discretion, Buyer shall, on or before Inspection Objection Deadline (§ 2.3):

10.2.1. Notice to Terminate. Notify Seller in writing that this Contract is terminated; or

10.2.2. Notice to Correct. Deliver to Seller a written description of any unsatisfactory physical condition which Buyer requires Seller to correct.

Posted by Jennifer Prestwich, Your Castle RE Colorado (Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster) about 7 years ago

Wow...that's the first I've ever heard of that.  Makes me want to read our contract (for the million'th time) and see if it's embedded in there somewhere!  (i'm sure it's not).  Thanks for the comment Jennifer.  I just learned something today.  :-)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) about 7 years ago

Great post!!!

Posted by Mykel Martin, The TCR Group at Realty Masters & Associates ((909) 476-9600 ~ WeLoveSellingRealEstate.com) about 7 years ago

Thanks Mykel (sniff, sniff).

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) about 7 years ago

Bad smells can be really hard for a buyer to get past - if in fact you can get them in past the front door!  And of course the sellers may be used to living with it so that they don't really notice & can't imagine what the big deal is!

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA (Managing Broker - City Realty Inc) about 7 years ago

Yuk!! The worst is pet urine and smoke...pee yew! we did a house that had 1070's shag carpet that stunk pretty bad. I took a peak in a corner and low and behold we struck Gold...hard wood underneath. Up and out it went and the house sold in no time!

Love the suggestions of what to do when someone has soiled the air...I will have to try them out to see what works best. Sometimes saying a prayer is your only hope!! :)

Posted by Valerie Sagheddu, ~Home Staging Professional, Poconos, PA (Apostle Art Home Staging & Design) about 7 years ago

I had a client who overdid the mulch around the gardens, add a hot humid day for the open house and though the garden looked good, the smell was awful.  So mulch a few days ahead of a showing!!!

Posted by Cindy Garruba (North Fork Home Staged to Sell) about 7 years ago

Nancy ~ that's definitely the hard part sometimes...when the seller doesn't even notice!  That's when you tell them to leave the house at least a half hour before the "open", so you can get there early and flush it out.  ;-)

Valerie ~ Thank goodness most people don't smoke in there homes anymore, but when they do, it's tough to get out. p.s.(I try to say nothing and hold my breath.  Trying the "oh mercy, I can't breathe" might get me slapped).

Cindy ~ You poor thing...it must have smelled like a Petting Zoo!  ...great tip, by the way.

 

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) about 7 years ago

One of the things sellers often overlook (and agents may not think to mention) is cooking odors, which can linger for a while! Your dinner may have been fantastic but my buyers and I don't want to smell it the next day.   Great points and a home's smell is just as much of an accessory as curb appeal, imho :)

Posted by Diane McDermott, Charlotte NC Real Estate Market (Realtor®, GRI, Landis e2 Real Estate, LLC) about 7 years ago

LOL, Diane...Sooo true.  Imho as well.

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) about 7 years ago

Smokers, pet owners, poor health, poor houskeeping all can cause odors. Any of these can equal unsellable.

Posted by Charles Edwards Bentonville, AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker (Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 ) about 7 years ago

Hmmm...pool health.  Almost forgot about that one.  Thanks Charles.

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) about 7 years ago

Sorry David, I really can spell AND I have spell check that is obviously under used. Now go play. It's Friday.

Posted by Charles Edwards Bentonville, AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker (Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 ) about 7 years ago

LOL...I seriously thought you were refering to pools that looked like swamps.  It could have gone either way!  Have a great weekend.

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) about 7 years ago

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