Your Nose Knows How to Avoid a Bidding War

July 7, 2021

If you are really serious about finding a house that you can actually buy without doing anything stupid or crazy to get it, just follow your nose.  If you can manage to fall in love with a house that is almost perfect, except that it smells like a wet Labradoodle, stale tobacco smoke, pungent foods, or even overdone scented candles, you could find yourself a winner.

In real estate, there is a saying:  “If they can smell it, we can’t sell it.”  Smells, any smells, can be a major turn off to homebuyers.  So many times, I’ve had people just say no to a really great house that was perfect in every way except for some sort of odor.  It doesn’t even have to be that strong

When the sellers move out, a lot of their smells will go with them. Some odor problems go away when rugs, furniture, draperies, and other textiles are removed.

You might have to do some remediation.  If there is wall-to-wall carpeting, you may have to remove or replace it.  Having the air conditioning ducts cleaned out (which is a good idea anyway) should improve overall air quality. If you bought a house from serious smokers, there are paint products like Kilz that can make a huge difference.  And there are people who make a living deodorizing stinky houses that resist all of the self-help tips you’ll find online.

Many of the homes that linger on the market for more than a week or two have odor issues that don’t need a professional to remedy.  And even with great staging, buyers can have a hard time building up any enthusiasm for the place.  So what I’m trying to say is, if you find yourself with an unexplained negative reaction to a great house, you may be following your nose out the door without being aware of why you hate the place.

Even if you have to spend money on paint, new carpet, or a professional to deodorize the place, you are unlikely to have to spend money paying tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over the list price in a bloody bidding war.  And you can probably get the house with contingencies for a home inspection, financing, and other consumer protections you might otherwise feel forced to strike from your offer.

And even with a bad case of HO (House Odor), this is a market where you could have some competition – though not nearly as much as the house down the street with no smell other than maybe the cookies the sellers baked prior to the first Open House.