Five Smells in Your House That Will Kill Your Sale and How to Fix Them

Smells in your home

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I recently showed a house that had plug-in air fresheners in almost every room… it was unbearable.  My clients were so turned off that I felt obliged to write about how those air fresheners may have killed the home owner’s sale.

When selling a house, you really need to appeal to all of the senses and smell is a big one.  Many people have sensitivities and allergies, some smells make people gag, give them a headache or simply become the topic of conversation, which prevents a prospective seller from falling in love with the house.

Here are the most common smells we come across:


CAUSE:  This is how it starts … you get one and you love it.  Then you become used to it and don’t notice it as much so you purchase a second one, then you become used to it and don’t notice it as much so you purchase another one. Soon, your house smells like it has been dosed in a potently high concentration of pine and pumpkin.

SOLUTION: Get rid of them!


CAUSE:  Basements are notorious for this smell and, oftentimes, the root cause is a lack of air circulation

SOLUTION: Keep ALL doors in the basement open, including closets, storage areas, bedrooms and the door to the basement. Keep your vents and air returns open and keep your furnace fan in the “ON” position to keep air circulating.  You may want to consider cleaning your ducts and/or replacing your furnace filter also. Finished and unfinished basements, for many buyers, are an important area.  Whether for future use, storage, a workshop and more; don’t neglect this area.


CAUSE: Stinky cheese, rotten vegetables and years of never cleaning it out.

SOLUTION: Remove everything from the fridge by relocating it to a secondary fridge, cooler or even outside if the weather is accommodating.  Give the fridge a good scrub with water and vinegar or a very mild soap solution, dry it out and put back everything except mouldy and expired items.  Keep an open box of baking soda in the fridge to help absorb smells and prevent any smells from building up


CAUSE: Cooking with strong spices, smelly meats and smokey conditions

SOLUTION: When approaching time to sell your house, avoid cooking with smelly food. Keep it basic, eat-out, order-in or BBQ outdoors.  When you are cooking, keep the range hood running for an extended period after you finish and at a higher speed while cooking.  If you’re searing food and causing a lot of smoke (or simply forgetful and let things burn) keep windows open to help with drawing in fresh air or use your home’s HRV, if equipped.


CAUSE: Self-explanatory

SOLUTION: Give your poor dog a bath and for god’s sake, empty the litter box!  With pets comes great responsibility.  Ensure that your pet has a healthy and happy life and living conditions by taking care of it as you’d hope to be cared for.

Every house has a smell and you’re likely desensitised to yours.  Consider asking a friend who’s capable of giving you the honest truth or ask your Realtor.  Some people may be hesitant to bring up the conversation so feel free to start the conversation by asking them for their honest opinion on what they smell and how you can correct it.

Stinky House Post on Instagram

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