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Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark

Taken from William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. Used to describe corruption or a situation in which something is wrong. I'm going out on a limb to say that corruption is not a factor here.

"If you smell it, you can't sell it." is a very common saying in the real estate industry. As I have mentioned before, initial impressions are quick and primarily based on emotion. Logic creeps in there eventually...hopefully. Smells trigger emotion. This is a scientific fact. Click here to read more about the science behind it. If you are a RE agent, contact me. I am happy to be the bad guy and mention those smells and leave you smelling like a rose.

We are so accustomed to our own smells we don't even realize they are odors. You may recall walking into someone's house and knowing exactly what they had for dinner last night, or yes indeed they have pets, or yup, they definitely have had water in the basement. These are the three biggest culprits.

Cooking Smells

Try not to cook with pungent ingredients and spices for four days prior to a showing. If you regularly cook with these foods rely on a trusted friend to let you know if any smells are lingering. Be sure to keep your spices in sealed containers and take out the trash frequently.

  • Open the windows for several hours a day, even if it is cold outside.

  • Simmer a pot of half vinegar and half water.

  • Simmer a pot of water with lemon and orange peels.

  • Leave a dish of vinegar out on the counter overnight.

  • Saturate cotton balls with vanilla extract and let sit in a dish overnight.

Pet Smells Eliminating these smells might require a bit more than a deep cleaning. These odors often live in carpets, area rugs and upholstered furniture. Popular DIY carpet or upholstery cleansers might just mask the smell instead of eliminating it. The same goes for cigarette smoke.

  • Have carpets and Upholstery professionally steam-cleaned.

  • Replace Fido's favorite chair with something new that is non-upholstered.

  • Give the dog bed and toys a spin in the washing machine. Consider a new bed if all is lost.

  • Remove Fido's dog bed for showings.

  • Remove Kitty's litter box for showings.

  • Remove all pet food dishes, toys and leashes for showings.

  • Believe it or not, not everyone loves pets or they may have an allergy.

Basement Smells

The musty smell of a basement can be a real concern for home buyers. It is a red flag that there is a water leak somewhere that has not been rectified. It can be something as small as condensation or a slow leak on pipes to a freakish hundred year flood. Check that your gutter downspouts are directing water away from the foundation. That damp musty smell often permeates up from the basement into the main living area.

  • Identify where and how water is getting in.

  • Dry out the basement with a window fan and/or dehumidifier.

  • Kill the mold with 100% vinegar in a spray bottle.

  • Black mold requires a professional.

  • Freshen the air with bowls of vinegar or baking soda.

  • Connect with Service Master Restore for help.

Keep Fresh Air Fresh Smells

Research suggests that people prefer a single smell as opposed to a potpourri mix. A single smell lets buyers quickly identify that fresh scent and move on. You do not want them thinking, "What is that smell?" the entire time and not focusing on the house.

  • Top choices for open house scents: orange, lemon, cedar, pine, vanilla and cinnamon.

  • Do not leave candles unattended for open houses

  • Try a reed diffuser or natural ingredients.

PS - Lynyrd Skynyrd's song came to mind. Read the lyrics. Not going there.

PPS - My father is right about vinegar. It does everything and is cheap!

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