How do vendors get the right smell for a successful home sale?

In a recent survey of home buyers by property marketing, content and home staging company A Passion for Homes, the worst thing to encounter on a property viewing is a bad smell! Accounting for almost a third of the results, it is no surprise to most estate agents and property professionals that smells have come top of the poll, as they are instantly off-putting, stay in the buyers’ memory (and maybe on their clothes too!) long after they have left the property, and are notoriously difficult to banish.

Oliver Clarke, Sales Manager for prime Surrey agent Barton Wyatt agrees,

“Homes with odours can be awkward for us agents.  Wet dogs, cigarette smoke and sometimes strong spicy food smells are guaranteed to put buyers off.  Extreme smells obviously need dealing with – poor plumbing or in one case rotting carcasses of rats under the floor boards – had to be dealt with prior to putting the houses on the market.’’

But, over-doing the intensity of pleasant smells can be a problem too, and can leave the potential buyer wondering what problems the vendor is trying to mask.

“We sold one house which we called ‘Jo Malone Home’” remembers Oliver, “there were dozens of diffusers all blending into a fruity, floral unpleasant odour that permeated every breath you took.’’

It might sound obvious and over-said, but traditional smells that work well to create a homely and inviting ambience are fresh coffee, baking bread, flowers, and freshly cut grass.  Or most buyers are really happy with the good old fashioned smell of fresh air! flowers and coffee pot in kitchen


So, what advice can we give to home owners, in the most tactful of ways of course!

Suggest they make an action plan to make their home ready for sale – which includes the importance of deep cleaning it thoroughly, and pin pointing the source of any potential pong! Pets, drains, old carpets, old trainers – they all add to the cocktail of nasty niffs! old trainers


Circulating fresh air through the home regularly will help, as will the addition of subtle fragrance. Interiors expert and TV personality Amanda Lamb suggests different scents in different rooms to create unique atmospheres,

“In the kitchen, I like sweet foodie scents such as raspberry, marshmallow and rose, whilst in the bedroom, I like to go for soft, calming and gentle fragrances to help me unwind and relax.”

There are many ranges of air freshener products to choose from, including the Life Scents range from Air Wick that offers vendors a mix of fragrances. Some of these products are automatic sprays, so vendors won’t have to think about turning anything on – this product refreshes throughout the day and night.

But if the smell is stale tobacco or pet urine, then the problem is more challenging.

Soft furnishings and curtains can be changed if washing doesn’t work (and the vendor can take any new purchases with them when they move) but the most likely areas to have absorbed the smell is the walls, flooring and furniture – both expensive and time consuming to replace.

So, here are a few suggestions to attempt to deal with the problem.

Get a professional to deep clean carpets and furniture as these are the main sources of absorbed smell. If this is not an option, try sprinkling baking soda, leave overnight and vacuum in the morning. This may take a few attempts!

Everything needs to be cleaned and wiped – including the light bulbs – a notorious little emitter of nicotine smells every time it’s turned on!

Set out bowls of white vinegar in the room overnight in different areas to absorb the smell – again, for a number of nights. Combine this with piles of crumpled up newspaper and leave the room closed each night.

If the carpets and underlay need to be replaced, then wash and seal the floors underneath first, to stop any smells returning from underneath the new flooring.

Try cleaning the walls if they can be sponge washed, with a nonabrasive, all-purpose cleaner. If this doesn’t work, then repainting may be the only option. Wash the walls first, and then use a sealant to ‘capture’ the ingrained smell first before painting.

With all DIY and suggestions, it pays to get the advice of a professional first, and use their services to get the best results. I’m sure, as estate agents in local communities, you know good trades people, but if not, there are a number of websites that can help vendors find someone reliable, such as Banishing very bad nicotine stains is a job for the professionals. nicotine stained walls


Vendors’ homes only get one chance to make a first impression on home buyers – they need to work hard to ensure that first impression is not a bad smell!

If you have any tips on dealing with bad smells, please get in touch!





You May Also Enjoy

National Federation of Builders
Breaking News

GDP figures shows the need for planning reform

Following GDP growth of 0.4% in March 2024, April has seen no growth and in key sectors, such as construction, output has again dropped. Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “The NFB Manifesto, ‘Supporting Construction to Power Growth’, was written with the UK’s GDP struggles in mind. While growth…
Read More
Breaking News

Breaking Property News – 12/06/24

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Proptech-X.   Leadpro integrates with Alto Leadpro, a lead generation and management tool, is excited to announce its integration with Alto, the market-leading software for estate agents This integration aims to drive efficiencies for agents by enabling the seamless transfer of leads from Leadpro directly into…
Read More
Estate Agent Talk

Avoiding First-Time Homebuyer Blunders: Your Roadmap to Success

Owning your first home is a monumental milestone, brimming with excitement and anticipation. It’s the start of a new chapter where dreams of having your own house become reality. Yet, amidst this exhilarating journey lies a maze of complex decisions and potential pitfalls, especially for first-time buyers. Successfully navigating the financial and emotional commitments necessitates…
Read More
National Federation of Builders 2021
Estate Agent Talk

NFB reaction and market insights to Conservative Manifesto

The Conservative party launched ‘Clear Action, Bold Action, Secure Future’, their manifesto for the 2024 general election. Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “A healthy construction industry is the only way a nation can grow and unfortunately, construction has taken some great hits in these last five years. The…
Read More
Estate Agent Talk

Response to the Conservatives’ 2024 manifesto – Thoughts from the Industry

In its manifesto launched today, the Conservative Party promises to deliver a record number of homes each year on brownfield land in urban areas by providing a fasttrack route through the planning system for new homes on previously developed land in the 20 largest cities, cutting Stamp Duty and commitments to improving the energy efficiency…
Read More
Breaking News

Conservative Plans do Nothing to Address Shortage of Homes to Rent

Responding to proposals in the Conservative Party’s 2024 general election manifesto to scrap Capital Gains Tax for two years where landlords sell properties to sitting tenants, Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Tenants who want to become homeowners should be supported to do so. Whilst incentivising landlords to sell to…
Read More