Right now I probably physically go into 3-9 houses per week. And during busier seasons that range easily doubles. So I get the opportunity to see and smell lots of homes. When you live in your house for any extended period of time, you tend to get used to the particular “scent” of your own home. But if you are going to be selling, you really need to find out if your home has a lingering odor that may turn off some buyers.
There are many different odors that can affect the first impression a potential buyer; cigarette smoke, pet odor, stale or stagnant air, and even some ethnic foods. With odor removal the first step is to get rid of the source.
Let’s take cigarette smell as an example. This may depend on how much and how long a person has been smoking inside the home. Nicotine can also cause staining to walls and paint. The use of deodorizers or sprays simply cover up the smell but won’t remove it. Smoke can penetrate into the carpets, walls, ceilings, cabinets, etc… When it gets to this point it’s best to have a pro come out and clean, because simply painting the walls will not resolve the issue.
Same thing with some ethnic foods. Walls and ceilings will need to be washed, in some cases carpet and padding pulled up and sub floors sealed. And in some very extreme cases, I’ve even heard of the drywall itself having to be removed. Working in the greater Houston Area and also The Bay Area, I have had the opportunity to work with clients of various ethnicities and I’ve helped some sellers remedy this very same issue. It can be done it just takes some work and planning.
And then there’s the problem with pet stains on carpet or wood floors. Again in extreme cases such as a home with many indoor pets, I have personally seen the effects of years of untreated pet stains/smells traveling from the floors and permeating up into the drywall. The seller had to have a contractor come out and hang new drywall, float, tape, paint, etc…
Finally, stale air (or what is sometimes referred to as “old house smell”) is often an easier fix. If the A/C or the heater hasn’t been run in a while, this can be remedied by running the A/C, heater, or sometimes even just turning on a ceiling fan, opening doors & windows, and using a plug in air freshener. An air purifier with a HEPA filter can also be affective.
And to quickly get rid of fresh paint smell just go with a low-VOC paint, which means the paint will have less off-gassing than traditional paint. Be sure to turn off the A/C and open up windows when possible and if it’s winter, turn on the heat.

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