According to recent research by website A Passion for Homes, it seems that the most off-putting thing for a potential buyer on a house viewing is not what they see, but what they smell!
An online survey by the interior design, dream homes and products website found that 32% of respondents said the worst thing to experience on a house viewing was a bad odour, with examples cited including animals, rats, smoke and drains.
According to the research respondents, damp patches are the next most worrying problem, accounting for 27% of replies, followed by not clean at 21%. Surprisingly seeing cracks only came in with 4% of answers – 6th place out of 10 in the poll.
It would appear that the cosmetic challenges of a property are more easily accepted. Perhaps buyers have more vision than might be thought – as old fashioned décor and an untidy garden had no votes, and bright coloured decor and patterned carpets hardly featured in answers.
‘Make an action plan to make your home ready for sale – deep clean it thoroughly, including carpets, and this will go some way to help with any smells.’ suggests Jo Ridout, Director of A Passion for Homes, ‘Smells accounted for 32% of survey answers – the top answer – and an unclean home 21%, so it’s important to get the home looking clean and smelling fresh,’
‘Smells are the biggest negative factor we have to deal with, and on a regular basis.’ agrees Michelle Wilden, from JDG Estate Agents covering Lancaster and Morecambe, ‘We normally try to deal with this sensitive issue at the valuation stage. It’s easy to demonstrate to a buyer how a home can be changed in terms of appearance and many buyers actually are looking for a home which need improvement. Smells however are off putting. People’s noses are sensitive.’
‘Many home owners with pets are unaware of the smell of their home. The same issue applies to smokers. Even trainers in a teenager’s bedroom have caused us pongy issues! We recommend that first you give your home a good vacuum. Get out the polish. Clean the bathroom. Wash the bedding. Create an airflow by opening windows.’
‘On viewing days take the dog for a walk. Put the cat litter tray in the shed. Clean out the rats. We have had several clients where once the issue of the smell has been addressed their homes have gone on to successfully sell. Ask your Estate Agent and don’t be offended by the honest response.’
Kevin James, from Wilkie May and Tuckwood estate agents in Minehead in Somerset, understands why eliminating smells and cleaning may not be at the top of a seller’s ‘to do’ list,
‘When selling your home you are faced with a whole list of things to do – dealing with an estate agent, trying to find a new home, mortgages, new schools – and more often than not, getting the house de-cluttered and smelling fresh isn’t a top priority.’
‘Ask a good friend or a family member and don’t be offended if you don`t like the answer, as they are trying to help you. When the smell is discovered it should be dealt with, to leave your property smelling clean and fresh, ready to be sold hopefully to the next viewer.’
‘If you can, you should leave the premises during a viewing too,’ Jo continues, ‘As the owner being at home during the viewing accounting for 10% of the survey answers. One comment from twitter told of the owners still being in bed during a viewing! Not a great idea if you are trying to sell your home!’
‘Although the results of this survey are extremely interesting, if you are trying to sell your home, it’s important to see your home as a whole property,’ suggests Jo, ‘So this should include clutter, tidiness, cleanliness, décor and ‘red flag’ structural problems that need attention, such as damp stains and cracks, as well as possible smells.’
‘No-one should feel they have to totally redecorate their home ready for sale, but small actions can achieve big results.’ Jo continues, ‘Thin down the personal stuff, but don’t empty your property totally, as you don’t want it to look empty and unloved.’
‘Use a fresh coat of neutral paint where needed, clean all flooring and replace if necessary, do all the diy jobs that need doing and dress your home to its full potential, to the budget and time that you have available. Visit apassionforhomes.com regularly for inspiration and advice on all things for your home too, of course!’