Sellers – Don’t Have Stinky Houses, Take 2

After counting 12 of these in a vacant house I was showing last weekend, I thought re-visiting an old topic was timely.

If you’re selling your house, don’t do this.

Here are five reasons to avoid using air fresheners.

– Smelly things – plug-ins, air fresheners, etc are not good when you’re trying to sell your home.
– They don’t smell good.
– They make buyers question what you’re hiding.
– They detract from our ability to focus on the house because the smell is so overwhelming.
– They’re bad (from a “I’m trying to have my house present as well as possible perspective).

I wrote “Sellers don’t have Stinky Houses” several years ago, and if you’re curious to see how bad video was even a couple years ago, have a look.

As, if not more importantly though:

“Air fresheners almost never “freshen” the air. They just mask odors, either with synthetic fragrance or by interfering with your ability to smell by coating your nasal passages with an oil film or releasing a nerve-deadening agent. In rare cases, they will actually break down the offensive odor.What’s in them and what’s the risk?

Known toxic chemicals that can be found in air fresheners include camphor, phenol, ethanol, formaldehyde, and artificial fragrances (which contain their own mix of toxic chemicals). These chemicals can cause symptoms like headaches, rashes, dizziness, migraines, asthma attacks, mental confusion, coughing and more.Some of the substances in air fresheners are linked to cancer or hormone disruption.”

(even more about the chemicals in air fresheners at How Stuff Works)

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  1. Julie June 12, 2012 at 15:00

    I just want to say thank you!

    1. Jim Duncan June 13, 2012 at 05:44

      You’re quite welcome, Julie!

  2. Ctwinder June 12, 2012 at 22:23

    But it sure beats the stale cigarette smoke they were probably trying to cover up!  (Or maybe makes it even worse.)

    1. Jim Duncan June 13, 2012 at 05:44

      I’ve found that the combination of stale cigarette smoke + smelly things is worse than either one individually. If the buyers smells smoke, they can acknowledge and deal with that. If it’s an overwhelming combination, that leads to more questions, and doubt is something a seller doesn’t want a buyer to have. 

      (better yet, don’t smoke … even smoking “just outside” allows a lot of smoke smell in)

  3. Anne June 13, 2012 at 04:00

    Thanks for this awesome post! In open houses, it is the little things that the buyer notices, most especially on the smell; most of them will question the overwhelming smell, I would agree.It helps in covering up stinkers but most of the time, keeping things more simple is what attracts the buyers. Thanks for the info!

    1. Jim Duncan June 13, 2012 at 05:45

      Simplicity is good. An overpowering smell – dog, cat, smoke, smelly things – is never good.

  4. Vincent R. Valles June 15, 2012 at 11:50

    The investor group, I work for, buys and resells foreclosure homes, most of the properties have sat empty for a year, or more, stale air, smoking and pet odors, can get very grim. Selling a house with odor problems takes longer and affects the resale value. Painting the interior does not remove all odors as the odors have settled in the carpeting, walls. A painting contractor mentioned a product called Air-ReNu that you add to paint. If we could eliminate the odor problem, we could save the cost of replacing the carpeting. After 24 hours, the odor was gone; now we use Air-ReNu for all interiors that need repainting.


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