Friday, October 5, 2018

There's an Elephant in my Tent!

‘There’s an Elephant in the tent!” – a cry we heard at a recent safari camp in Africa.  A huge elephant used its tusks to tear open the side of a tent while the guests were inside. Panic ensued, the elephant moved on and all were safe and able to continue their African journey.  The travelers were just looking to enjoy their tent and sleep well, yet they were faced with an obstacle to meeting their desires when the elephant intruded their space. 

“Elephant in the room” is a metaphor for an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to discuss. Fortunately, in the above experience, the problem was brought to the forefront! 

So, what does this have to do with selling a home?  Buyers are just looking to enjoy the homes they visit while in search of their next home to purchase.  At times, there is ‘an elephant in the room’ that may not be called out to the homeowners yet may cause the Buyer’s to continue in their search for the right home.  One big ‘elephant’ in a home for sale is Odor.  Sometimes listing agents are unsure how to tell homeowners about smells inside their homes.  Sometimes it is difficult to get feedback from showing agents on what the ‘real’ reason is for buyers to move on.  Sellers should be aware of their home’s aroma and address any issues prior to inviting Buyers inside.

Here are 5 odors that are turn-offs for potential Buyers and should be addressed by the homeowner prior to putting their home up for sale.

     PET SMELLS – dirty kitty litter box, cat or dog urine on the carpet, wet dog smell, dirty hamster cages, etc. These are often thought to be one of the most offensive smells and often very hard to get rid of.  While living in the home, homeowners either get used to, or overlook, the smell their pet leaves on the furniture or carpet but it is very present to others, especially to those sensitive to pet dander. 

     COOKING SMELLS - Strong spices, fried foods, onions, fish—they all tend to linger long after the meal is over. Some Buyers won’t be able to get further than 2 steps inside the home due to strong spice smells or burning incense. 

     PLUG-IN'S AND SPRAY AIR FRESHENERS - The use of plug-in scented air fresheners is often an attempt to mask the smell of pets, cooking or smoke.  These products can make the scent in the house even worse for people who are sensitive to smells—or allergic to the fresheners. I recently sold a single level, 1300 sq ft home that had 4 plug-in air fresheners going full blast.  During the home inspection, the Buyer, Inspector and myself were overwhelmed with the chemical mist in the air and needed to open all the windows to air the home out – and allow us to really see if a heavy dog odor was present.

     CIGARETTE SMOKE – Many Buyers feel that the smell of cigarette smoke throughout the home is a deal breaker and won’t get beyond the initial look at the home.  The thought of needing to replace carpeting, paint all the walls, change the drapery throughout the home and more become overwhelming obstacles for Buyers who are looking forward to moving into their new home.

     FUNKY ODORS – moldy or musty smells that could be caused from mold in the carpeting, rodent smells coming from under the home or unfinished basements, water issues, or staining in the attic.  The funky smell gives the impression that the home has not been well-maintained. It also causes concern from the Buyers that the smell won’t leave with the current owners and could be costly to remove.

Just like the elephant who was following his nose to find the pleasant smell of apples and oranges brought to the tent by the travelers, Buyers also buy with their noses. Make sure your home offers a fresh and inviting smell when you choose to list your home for sale.

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