Real Estate by Debbie Reynolds: Smells Can Turn Buyers Away at the Door

Smells Can Turn Buyers Away at the Door

Smells Can Offend a Buyer, Even Perceived Good Smells

When listing a property, listing agents want the seller to put the home into the best shape possible to attract the biggest pool of buyers. Agents have to be bold and share news that some sellers don't want to hear. It is our responsibility and duty to tell the sellers if the house has offensive odors.


When you come from outside breathing the fresh air and step into the home, the smell of pets, cooking, and smoking odors can all be detected immediately. In the seller's defense, when you live with these odors they become part of of you and you stop noticing.


Comments about odors are not meant to offend the seller, they are meant to address the problem. It is my job to help the seller get the best price possible and present the home in its best light. I want my sellers to get top dollar in Clarksville TN.

If I can smell your house, so can the buyer. These odors need to go so the buyer won't turn around at the door.

I believe the best way to eradicate odors is to clean and remove the source, For instance, if it is a pet smell, clean out litter boxes, pet beds, furniture if the pets tend to wallow on them and keep the pets clean. Airing out the home can also help.If it is a smoking smell, don't smoke in the house or garage, clean curtains and drapes, check clothes in the closet for a smokey smell, shampoo carpets and consider cleaning air vents and changing the filters. In some extreme cases you may have to ozone the air with HEPA equipment.

Don't use cover-ups such as plug-ins, scented candles or sprays or potpourri. These can actually make people sick. I have a friend that goes into an Anaphylaxis reaction around perfumes or cinnamon in the air. It can actually become a life or death situation when she breathes these in and I have seen her pass out and need reviving by paramedics.

Remember think clean. Small containers of baking soda or vinegar are natural odor removers that can be placed around the house.


Check these other possible odor offenders:

  • All pet odors including birds.
  • Cooking odors especially strong spices,  fish, cabbage, onions, garlic
  • Garbage or accumulated trash
  • Dirty garbage  disposals
  • Dirty clothes in the clothes hamper or washer
  • Dirty dishes in the dishwasher
  • Soiled diapers
  • Dog or pet beds or blankets 
  • Rugs, carpets, drapes, upholstery
  • Mildewy smells especially in basements or concrete areas
  • Dirty body odor
  • Sewer gas

Eliminate the odor and you eliminate at least one objection from the buyer.

Smells Can Turn Buyers Away at the Door

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When you are ready to sell contact The Real Debbie Reynolds at 931-920-6730.


Photo by David Castillo Dominici at


 Centruy 21 Platinum Properties2130 Wilma Rudolph Blvd.

Clarksville, TN 37040

When you need Real Estate services in Clarksville TN

                  it would be my pleasure to assist you!                             

Debbie Reynolds
"The Real Debbie Reynolds"

Check out all Clarksville TN Real Estate on My Website

931-771-9070 Office | 931-320-6730 Cell

Clarksville TN Homes 


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Comment balloon 40 commentsDebbie Reynolds • June 19 2018 01:29AM


So true Debbie Reynolds odors can kill a potential sale in a single whiff, especially cigarette and strong pet odors.  Toured a home recently that the sellers tried to overcome the extremely strong pet odor by having candles burning in every clients and I were overwhelmed and had to exit the home without even finishing the tour.

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) 9 months ago

What's even worse Debbie is when they try to mask the smell with those flowery plugins and don't use the same fragrance throughout the house. You walk room to room and get blasted by even worse smells!

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) 9 months ago

Ha ha I had to laugh many times I went with my clients and we would laugh at a "tear down home" they were burning scented candles...we would say WHY?? on normal homes if there were bad odors we would laugh because I have a bad nose hence I would look at my client's reactions and they smiled and implied yes it is bad:)) but they knew I have a bad nose:))Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 9 months ago

So true "don't use cover-ups such as plug-ins, scented candles or sprays or potpourri."

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) 9 months ago

Thank you for sharing. I hope home sellers will read this post.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 9 months ago

Good morning Debbie Reynolds we've had a listing where the homeowners smoked inside!! that home would not sell until the owners moved out and the home was completely professionally deodorized, repainted and new carpet installed... 

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 9 months ago

Good morning Debbie Reynolds,

Odors are so important in a home and masking them isn't going to help. Buyers can spot a smokers house or certain pet odors and cooking odors..odors can kill a potential sale in a single whiff! Its best to address the problem up front by thinking clean!! You offer some great tips!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) 9 months ago

This is where it's important that the agent diplomatically brings this to the attention of the owners.  Many times they don't even realize that their home has these smells.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) 9 months ago

! Absolutely1 .  We have had that and shut the front door immediately with Buyers not wanting to even enter the home due to the penetrating odor. 

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 9 months ago

Getting sellers to understand that other people can smell things that they have gotten used to is hard sometimes.

Posted by JL Boney, III, Columbia, SC Real Estate (Coldwell Banker) 9 months ago

Good morning Debbie. This is excellent and i agree completely. Sometimes the odors include cooking astes that are not routine too. Not much you can do about that.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 9 months ago

Good afternoon Debbie - and just like staging it is good to have an outsider evaluate.  You may be used to the oders.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 9 months ago

Debbie smells are one of the biggest turnoffs for me, and depending on the smell it could be a deal breaker.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) 9 months ago

My sense of smell is not as sensitive as most peoples, so I know that if I can smell something in a home, it is a very bad sign.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) 9 months ago

Funny how most of us agree that the fake "good" smells are almost worse that the bad smells. If you can smell it, you can't sell it.

Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) 9 months ago

Great post Debbie Reynolds - Sellers do need to be reminded of these conditions regularly. You are right, sellers become numb to the smell of odors. 

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 9 months ago

So true Debbie.  It is so important for sellers who become immune to smells to listen to their agents.  We have seen many a buyer take a step back at a front door because of bad indoor smells.

Posted by Gloria Todor, & Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA (Century 21 Absolute Realty ) 9 months ago

Sellers can sometimes be oblivious to the smells in their own home; as agents it's our job to tell them the truth and how to solve the problem.


Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) 9 months ago

So, I JUST had a client who is having their friend take a look at a house with me (they are in Kingsport, TN, BTW). She said, "She knows what smells I can and can't tolerate!" 

It's SO true and what a great post - a reminder to all sellers to address any odors (and not add to them!) before listing their homes on the market.

Happy Wednesday, Debbie!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 9 months ago

You are right on about smells Debbie. They can turn a buyer off before they even cross the threshold.

Posted by Sybil Campbell, REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia (Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia) 9 months ago

Debbie, You hit it right on the head with this article.

Odors are as big of a turnoff as is a cluttered and dirty home and not sure why some sellers continue to ignore advise from their listing agent!

Last week I was showing a house and I could smell strong odors in a few bedrooms and dog poop in dining room!  Pet owners really need to pay attention to presenting their home in close to perfect condition.

Posted by BIPIN CHANDRIANI, For All Things Real Estate! (Coldwell Banker Preferred) 9 months ago

I was in a house that stunk so badly from dog that it reduced the value of the house by at least $30,000. 


Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) 9 months ago

Someone had to say it Debbie and you said it very well.  I walked into a house I was going to list one time and a song came to mind "Who Let the Dogs Out!"  On one hand it sounds funny, but realistically if someone wants to sell their home, they need to know.  Some agents don't want to offend the owner, but I think owners need to know the truth - in a nice and respectful way.  Great post!

Posted by Brenda J. Andrew, Professional Realtor in Corpus Christi, TX (ULTIMA REAL ESTATE) 9 months ago

P. U.   says it all

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) 9 months ago

Good Morning Debbie Reynolds 

This is a great reminder to sellers there's more to a home that looks good

Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA) 9 months ago

Excellent post Deb!  


Also as a reminder, do not bring up any smells when working with a buyer, as they may like the 'scent'  I made that mistake about 20 years ago and there was a bit of trust lost as I felt I caught a whiff of a smell, but the buyers didn't mind it at all.  Weird, but true in this crazy business!





Posted by L. Scott Ferguson, Sunny Florida Real Estate Professional (Ask4Ferguson - Your House-SOLD Name in Real Estate) 9 months ago

if it smells it wont sell :)  thats probably top of the list right next to the three "L's"

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) 9 months ago

Congratulations, Debbie, on your feature recognition.

Odors quickly turn off interests of prospective home buyers.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) 9 months ago

Hi Debbie,
What an excellent and tactful post on addressing the issue of smells. 

Posted by Carol Williams, "Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services" (U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business.) 9 months ago

Sellers can get nose blinds to the smells that cause eyes to water, stomachs to roll. Make it brownies or nothing at all... you can not mask sour smells with sweet fragrances. That creates a sick sweet and sour combination. Keep it clean and smelling fresh as a daisy!

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) 9 months ago

Had one of these just this week Debbie. Nothing turns buyers off quicker than a house that smells. Clean is the answer. Masking it just makes things worst. 

Posted by Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner, Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices (Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268) 9 months ago

I was door knocking, introducing myself in my farm area. A lady answered the door and opened it just a crack to talk to me. The smell that came from that house was horrible. I did not even want to go in to look.

What a great post, and great tips for getting the smell out of the house, not just trying to cover it up.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) 9 months ago

B/c I'm the first one in when showing a home...I can usually detect odor and that's the first thing I mention!  It is so hard to get pet / smoke odor out of a house, or Indian cooking spices.  I see those homes just sit on the market.

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) 9 months ago

Great post, Debbie! I liked that you mentioned even perceived good smells. I had a client who HATED the smell of lavender. She was so turned off by it that she had trouble focusing on a house when it smelled of lavender. Nevermind the wet dog smells. LOL

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) 9 months ago

Definitely "Smells can turn buyers away at the door.!"  Our senses are on high alert walking through a strangers front door after getting that first impression from the curb.  

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) 9 months ago

I agree that some people are very sensitive to smells.  I am careful to ask if there are pets in the homes that I am showing to my buyers, especially if someone has a known allergy.  When I list a home, I add the pet information to the showing remarks.  Even though the pet is often removed for showings, the dander is still there.  I would rather be safe and disclose.  Thank you for the post.

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) 9 months ago

Smells can really make the difference between whether a buyer wants to even look at the house or not. 

Yesterday I previewed a home for clients. The upstairs was thickly (think the 1970s or so) carpeted and all I could focus on was the lovely combined smell of cigarette smoke and cat urine. Blech. I know if I was the buyer I'd turn around and wouldn't even bother looking. 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, 9 months ago


 Great blog Gabe Sanders re-blogged it and it is where I left a note! I have to have plug ins in the model, so far no problems and people like the smell it is not your normal smell. Great post!

Posted by Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert 9 months ago

Hi Debbie Reynolds You hit on a topic that is huge in the sale of homes and apartment complexes...even commercial properties.

One thing is for certain...odors can sure make selling or leasing something a stinky situation!!

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) 8 months ago

Debbie, when a $4,000,000 sale is thwarted by smelling a smelly smell that smells smelly that's a huge problem that no one forgets.

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) 6 months ago