Let me tell you what will stop a buyer dead in their tracks when they enter your Windsor house: bad odors. It is the one thing that can turn off buyers immediately and keep your home from selling. Pet and cigarette smells are often so overwhelming that it still stuns me that sellers and their agents often ignore this fact.
First things first. If you have a home where a heavy smoker lives, or you have inside pets, then you need to ask your real estate agent for an honest assessment regarding your house. Don’t assume that if your agent doesn’t tell you anything that all is fine, because for some strange reason, an agent may not feel comfortable telling you about this sensitive subject. However, when a buyer walks into a home, it’s the first thing they notice, even before they walk two steps into your entryway.
If you know that your home is going to be on the market soon, now is the time to tackle this issue and get rid of any unpleasant scents.
1. Air Your House Out
When cleaning your home, make it a point to open the windows. Yes, it may be freezing outside, but fresh air needs to circulate. This is often a job that won’t be cured overnight, so make it a habit to open your windows, especially prior to any showings. Just remember to close prior to leaving if it’s cold outside.
2. Clean thoroughly
This is where it’s necessary to scrub bare floors, walls or anything else with an odor-neutralizing product. Go to specialty pet stores if you have pet odors. If necessary, you may need to hire a service that can clean pet stains on flooring.
3. Clean drapes and upholstery
Pet and smoke odors seep into fabrics. If possible, pay a professional to tackle this dirty work. A steam cleaning is one way to get rid of these smells. Remember to include pillows as well.
4. Clean carpeting
Your rugs will need to be shampooed. Again, if possible, hire a professional or you can do yourself by renting a rug-cleaning machine at your local grocery or home improvement store. You may also need to consider using a deodorizing treatment after cleaning. Perform a sniff test and see if the odor remains. When in doubt, do this extra step.
Keep in mind that cleaning your carpets may not get rid of the problem if you have pet odors. In this case, the padding and carpet need to be replaced. Once you tear them out, you will need to scrub the floor with vinegar or some other odor-removing product. New padding and carpeting can then be installed. There have been cases that the sub floor is also covered in pet stains. This means that will need to be replaced as well.
Sometimes it is necessary to repaint and seal the walls, especially if a heavy smoker occupies your house. If the basement is affected, look into applying a sealant for brick and cement. Again, go to your home improvement store and ask for help. Chances are, your real estate agent can provide information as well.
For homeowners putting their home on the market this spring now is the time to start work on alleviating this problem. If you smoke, now is the time to take it outside and don’t allow guests or other family members to smoke in your home as well. If you have a dog, make sure that if they are using pads, to clean up immediately. Throw them away in an outside trashcan with a secure lid. Make sure kitty litter is replaced daily and is hidden during showings.
When your house is on the market, it’s a good idea to relocate your pets if possible. Consider having them stay with a friend during the day or a pet day care facility. Make sure at the very least that pets are removed for showings and there is no evidence laying around your home, like dishes and toys that a pet lives there. Also, make sure the yard is free of any pet waste.
Finally, after all of your hard work and cleaning, make sure your house smells clean and welcoming. Place potpourri or scented candles strategically. But be careful not to overdo it. Walking into a home that is heavily perfumed is also a turn off and often begs the question: What is the seller trying to hide?