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Saturday, December 29, 2007

If you've got to smell...

Emeril Lagassee likes to joke on his show “Emeril Live” about how he wishes there was such a thing as “Smell-o-vision,” so that the audience at home could experience the smells that emanate from his cooking. In real estate we have a little-known saying that “if you have to smell, at least smell good.” Actually it may just be me who says that, which would, I guess , make it a really little-known saying. But, you get the point. If people are going to smell things when they walk into your house (and they will), you should at least try to make the experience pleasant for them.

Let’s face it, once your dog gets passed the “puppy breath” stage he/she just smells. Cats, too, leave a distinct odor in the house. Many people can tell at the front door whether a pet shares the house and for some that is an instant turn off. Mustiness is another odor that can greet visitors at the basement door and make a bad first impression about the basement. There are many other, strong odors which could give visitors a bad first impression and you may not even smell them anymore. It’s totally unscientific, but I will say that pet owners in general develop some sort of tolerance for the odors of their pets and often don’t even smell them any more. That is often not he case with potential visitors who may visit. A huge whiff of Fido or of Tabby’s litter box is not going to help the sale and it is even worse if the pets have house training issues. When buyers smell pet odors they immediately start looking for stains in the carpeting, which they will likely find whether it was Fido or not who made them.

Realtors have for a long time recommended “aromatherapy” for houses, including baking pies or cookies and lighting candles. Since the introduction of the plug-in air fresheners, many homeowners have moved to them, but air fresheners can be overdone, leading the prospective buyers to wonder if there’s something that the home seller is trying to hide. Even candles can be overdone, if you have more than one burning in every room, especially if they are all different smells. If can become as overpowering as walking through a candle store.

Ethic cooking can also be the source of odors that some will find unpleasant. Everyone loves garlic in foods, but garlic smells lingering in the air can be a put-off. The same can be true of strong curries or the cooked cabbages that are so prominent in some cuisines. It’s though not to like the smell of an apple pie or fresh baked cookies, but the lingering smells from preparing corned beef and cabbage can not only be resisted, but, may actually be offensive to some.

You may need help recognizing whether or not your house has an odor problem. Ask your realtor for an honest opinion. If he/she doesn’t feel that they have a good nose for the job, have them bring in some of their office compatriots. There’s almost always a good nose in every office, someone who can walk into a house and tell you if a dog or cat lives there or maybe ever has or whether the house was ever smoked in by prior owners. A good carpet cleaning and maybe a fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceilings will normally mask those things out fairly well. For basements there are products available at Home Depot and Lowe’s that claim to absorb the musty smell, as well as the moisture in the air. I’ve also used a spray on product call Odor Begone that works well in basements and other hard to deodorize areas.

Just remember, if the prospective buyer is going to comment on how your house smells, work hard to make sure that it’s a good comment.

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