Want to find a bargain? Find a house that smells funny. Summer is a good time to find them, since summer is a stinky time of year. There seem to be two kinds of houses on the market right now: those that have been fully renovated or cleaned and staged, and those that look like they haven’t been cleaned since 2020.

One of my pet peeves about houses for sale is that many of them are unpleasant because they are dirty. Houses collect hold odor in the heat of the summer and in the dead of the winter. Sellers don’t ventilate. Some sellers don’t even clean their homes. The worst is when sellers cover smells with perfume!

Smells that go away.

You can get a better deal on a house that smells. If you are confident that the smell will be going with the seller, it is to your advantage, as a buyer, to just hold your nose.

People smell:

It’s little wonder why some places stink in the summer and the winter. This article from Yahoo looked at housekeeping.  The survey showed more than half of men between 18 and 25 said that. (I can see that as true, especially when many young men between 18 and 22 are in college. It is not at all beyond my imagination that college age young men change their sheets once at the end of each semester, once when they move back to the dorms, and the fourth time…I don’t know, they must find some reason.)

The general trend rings true in my business. Young men, living outside of couples, seem to do laundry much less frequently than necessary in the summer. I also testify that there are some young women, living singly, can be as filthy as the guys. Yes. I have seen it, and smelled it.

laundryDuring the summer, I find myself reminding my clients that the house smells like “young men” and that the smell is likely to leave with them. The reason that “young man aroma” leaves is that it usually is caused by dirty cloth. That cloth leaves with the laundry-averse person who sweated into it.

Smells that might not go away:

Animal smell: 

If it will go with the pets, it is good for you.

Easy: Dog beds go with the dog and their people. So do couches they sleep on. Litter box smells go with the litter box.

Not so easy: Animal urine can soak into wood floors or sheetrock walls. It can also soak under vinyl tile flooring.

Mold and mildew:

If you smell mildew, follow your nose to the source. Most of the time, mildew is a surface problem and can be cleaned off. Then find a way to keep that area dryer.

Mold, on the other hand, gets into things and spreads in the air. If there is mold in the walls, you need a professional to clean it for you. Here is basic information about mold and mildew. 

Your task as a buyer:

Buyers, your task is to separate the smells that are in the home with those in the seller’s things.

Dirty laundry will go with the sellers. So will week-old deteriorating garbage. However, if the filth has gotten into the wood or walls of the house, the smell may stay.

Organic smells can be absorbed into wood and wallboard. So, a dirty cat-box smell goes with the box, but the urine-soaked floor beneath it is all yours after closing. Mildew is easy to clean, and smells a lot. Mold is hard to clean and may not smell at all.

Knowing the difference can help you find the house that should have sold for more.