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!





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