Smell Staging

Any professional stager or an experienced Realtor can guide sellers how to set up their home to maximize the visual worth. Endless blogs discuss how to anchor furniture, what colors promote which feelings, how to perform minor repairs, who to hire to fix major issues and even how to make your bed to invite buyer's to make an offer. These particular blogs are interesting to me and I eat them up! They are so useful to sellers, but staging must occur to please ALL senses, and often SMELL is forgotten.

Sure, I read the "bake cookies on open house day" and "scrub and paint walls if smoking occurred in the home," but I think there MUST be a list that covers other faux pax that are sure to offend the nose.

If a homeowner has already signed a listing agreement, the following must be minded:

1. From the moment anyone even THINKS they might sell their home, they must stop cooking any of the following foods: curry, fried foods (chicken, steak, fries, anything in oil which permeates the air and lingers), any seafood products, any microwaveable tofu products, and menudo. You get the idea- anything that you can smell after the table has been cleared and the dishes done must be avoided until you are in your new home. This is a great time to eat out, diet or stick to the less fragrant meals.

2. Smoking smell can be repaired before opening a home to touring, but continuing smoking (cigarettes, drugs or pipe tobacco) is ludacris! Smoking MUST be done outside, no matter how hot, cold or rainy- do not smoke in any part of the home. This should be common sense, but people sneak into the garage or a guest bathroom- there is no hiding smoke, it infiltrates the entire home.

3. Pets. This could be an entire article, but I will summarize. If you have a cat (or cats), regardless of previous habits, you must clean the litter box in the morning and the evening. If your animal has soiled the carpets or floors, there are remedies, but the goal of this article is to discuss how to avoid stinky problems from the moment a listing agreement is signed. If Fido or Fluffy Cat has somewhere else it can go until you sell your home, that is great (Grandma or a kennel might do). Talk to your Realtor about options. IF no option presents itself, keep pee pee animals outside or corralled in a single room until the movers get to your house. I can tell you that cat urine has caused deals to fall through here, it can happen to you!

4. Everyone loves their personal products, but if you shower in Old Spice instead of water, or you use White Diamonds instead of hairspray, you should take it down a notch for the duration of your home's sale. Proper etiquette is one small spritz on the wrist and one on the neck (despite what my 16 year old says). People are often allergic to perfumes/colognes, so don't give people allergy attacks just for peeking inside your home!

5. Not running the fans or the air conditioning/heater will cause the home to be still. If you don't use your AC, at least keep the air moving with fans or the "fan on" feature of your centralized system. Still homes don't exactly stink, they're just stuffy and smells are magnified in this environment. Use Glade plug-ins (Lennar, DR Horton and I use the hawaiian smell) in 2-3 locations on each floor.

6. If you have septic tank issues or any backup of sewage, you really should get this repaired. If something backs up while a tour is in progress, the deal will die faster than a mosquito in a bug light. If you know of this issue, don't hide it from your Realtor- talk to them about it so that everything is disclosed.

7. Garbage should be removed from the kitchen daily if any food is deposited in the waste. Softer foods should be disposed of in the sink's disposal and it should be run after every use. Limes/lemons chopped up and ice thrown into the disposal together can help with the more putrid smells. Dishwashers can be a source of stink also- run an empty cycle with a 1/4 cup of bleach after cleaning the dispose-all. No one likes that "eww, 2 day old ground beef" smell.

These should be common sense, but some of these items are missed. Glade, cookies and carpet powder are great remedies and others are readily found online. Remember- if a home doesn't smell great, dollars are literally flushed down the drain; offers will suffer. Don't forget to stage your furniture AND perform smell staging!
What's the worst smell YOU'VE experienced in a home for sale?


Mark Harrison said...

What I fantastic post. I'm not a realtor (let along a wife) - my interest is as an investor showing my property portfolio to potential tenants.

I don't recommend that people use scented plugins like Glade.

The reason is that there is a growing movement of people who either have MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) or are concerned about it, and hence I generally advise "fresh air" rather than "scented."

This may be a cultural thing - my general perception is that the US market is rather less into things like "organic living" than the UK one (where I am.) The other major UK difference is that very, very, few homes have "mechanical air circulation" of any kind at all.


Great point about Glade, Mark... I guess that falls under the "personal products" portion anyhow... I still use them in my own home!

I'm in the South US, so we HAVE to have A/C, so I don't know anything else. Any suggestions about what to use if you don't have central air circulation?

Athol Kay said...

If you have to ask "does it smell?".


Sometimes it's just the seller that smells...

...please stand closer to the soap.

Athol Kay said...

>>Any suggestions about what to use if you don't have central air circulation?

Open the windows?

Oh and seeing a ton of scented candles makes my "what is being covered up?" sense tingle too....

Anonymous said...

Sorry, this is so late giving you my take on your Smell Staging. Great tips on what to do to stay sweet smelling. My worst experience in nose offending experiences (and eyes)is a dirty diaper left soaking in a toilet. I guess everybody doesn't use disposable!

Kathleen Cragun IssaquahUndressed.com