July 8, 2015

Something Stinks in Suburbia

My husband has an aversion to weird smells.  By "weird" I mean "normal" to you and me.  It took me years to get him to go to a Chinese restaurant because "those places reek of soy sauce."  Does soy sauce even have a odor??  For those of you who know him, I'm sure you each have seen him retell a story that he can't get through without gagging.

We talk about smell a lot in our house.  After all, I live in a house filled with males.  I won't mention specific aromas, but there is a lot of scolding, a lot of blaming, and a lot of gagging by my husband...and especially me.

Smell is the most sensitive of all senses.  Studies show people can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year.  They also show that 75% of emotions are triggered by smell.  We all know that certain odors can bring us right back to a certain place or time or remind us of a specific person.  I swear that I can still smell the scent of my grandma in a blanket she knit for me even after all these years.  Every time I smell Aqua Net, it takes me back to high school into the girl's bathroom before lunch.  And let's not even talk about Dark Eyes Vodka.

What does this have to do with real estate?  A lot.  In my opinion, smell can be the greatest deterrent to buying a home.  "Smell has a greater impact on purchasing than anything else combined," says Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment Foundation in Chicago.

I believe these to be the top culprits of unpleasant odors in a home:
1.  Pets
2.  Smoke
3.  Mold/mildew
4.  Lingering cooking/food odors
5.  Dirty upholstery/laundry/carpeting

We've all walked into a home where numbers one, two, three and four are obvious.  But number five...number five is the most overlooked... and the grossest.  It's the indescribable funk that we can't quite put our finger on.  Once when showing a home, I walked into the master bedroom and was sucker-punched by an overwhelming stench of sweat and body odor.  I called the listing agent and told her that the house was never going to sell until the guy washed his sheets.

Sometimes odors perceived to be "pleasant" by you turn out to be "unpleasant" to others.  The smell is in the nose of the beholder.  Much of that "Realtor marketing advice" regarding smells is either outdated or downright dumb:  Light candles!  Bake cookies!  Simmer cinnamon sticks on the stove!  Use plug in deodorants!

How about this:  Open some windows, bleach the mildew, don't cook anything smelly, and for Heaven's sake, do some laundry.

The Smeller's the Feller,


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