Eliminate Home Odors with Simple Solutions

Sometimes it’s the little things you don’t even notice that create a bad first impression with dinner guests or a prospective homebuyer. And even in Austin’s hot real estate market, it’s important for sellers who want top dollar to prepare their home to attract high offers.

Pets, smoking and the lingering aroma of spicy cooking can produce an unpleasant olfactory experience in your home. In other words, the house needs fresh air. Sometimes an odor in the home is so subtle — or you’re so accustomed to it — that you don’t even notice the smell until someone else mentions it.

But you can guard against those odors with proper ventilation, cleaning and a little help from some baking soda, ammonia and water.

Amy George, an Austin area home staging expert and owner of Impact Interiors said that pet odors are the most common problem she encounters in her work. While pets often are considered part of the family, George said it can be a turn off to prospective buyers and one of the first things people notice when they enter a home.

She has helped prepare homes for sale that housed up to seven dogs. The smell can be jarring.

“It’s just ‘bam,’ it hits you,” she said of pet odors. “Something like that is just uncomfortable.”

Real estate agents hire George to be personable, but also to be frank with homeowners looking to sell a home. Consumers need to know the truth to effectively prepare the home and attract the greatest number of offers from qualified buyers in the shortest time.

Home Staging Tips

1.) Pets: Austin is well-regarded as a “Dog Friendly” community. At home, set out a box or two of baking soda to absorb odors. Clean floors with a mixture of equal parts ammonia and water. Groom your pet, and be prepared to have your pet stay somewhere else while prospective buyers are visiting. Even if you have a loveable pet, some people have allergies or fear of dogs. “There’s so many things you just can’t predict,” she said. (Here are some fun things to do with your dog outside of home.)

2.) Smoke: If someone in your home smokes, it can cause a lingering problem. The easy solution is to smoke outside. But even outdoor smokers can bring the scent in with their clothing, which then gets absorbed into fabrics. George said homeowners with smoke issues should consider painting walls, cleaning or replacing carpet and laundering all linens. Then, stop smoking in the home and understand that your clothing can harbor a noticeable odor too.

3.) Cooking: People who frequently cook spicy dishes, such as curry, often encounter the same pervasive problems smokers have — a scent that has been absorbed into almost everything. So many of the same tricks apply — repaint walls, clean or replace carpet and avoid cooking with heavy spices. (Other tips for improving kitchens.)

George said homeowners who are selling have to start detaching emotionally from their property.

“It’s an emotional experience when you sell a home,” she said. “There’s a lot of memories there.”

George encouraged people to avoid using scents, such as candles and air fresheners.

“Buyers think they’re trying to cover something up,” she said.

Baking some cookies for prospective buyers, however, is fine. George said the best odor is a neutral scent that brings to mind a clean house.