Odors Could Be Telling You Something About That Home You’re About to Buy

There’s a reason homeowners bake bread or cookies just before a showing or open house. Those pleasant odors stir emotions and make lasting impressions when it comes to buying a home.

But when those impressions are made by something far less inviting than fresh-baked goodies, it could spell trouble down the road. When it comes to touring a home you may potentially buy, your nose usually knows. Unpleasant odors are more than just off-putting. They could be a sign of a larger—and more expensive—problem.

It can be tempting to ignore an odor when everything else about a home fits your priority list.

Here are some of the most common odors to pay attention to:

Sulfur smell. If you walk into a home and it smells strongly of rotten eggs, leave immediately. The odor could be the sign of a gas leak. If, however, you smell only a faint rotten egg odor, you’re probably looking at a plumbing problem. This is pretty common if a home has been vacant for awhile. Offensive odors can waft up through the pipes.

If you notice the stench coming from multiple drains, however, you could be looking at a bigger problem that involves plumbing equipment or even the local sewer authority. You may need a sewer inspection. Depending on the problem, there may be the need to dig up the yard to address the problem.

Pet odors. More than any other offensive odor, home buyers complain about the stench of pet odors, especially the lingering scent of cat urine. When pet “accidents” soak into carpet fibers, a spray bottle of carpet cleaner is not going to solve the problem. If you’re planning to buy a home that has a pet odor problem, expect that you’ll need to bring in the professionals.

The cost for removing pet urine can vary, depending on the type of flooring involved and how it was installed, as well as the amount of saturation and size of the affected area. You may need to replace carpet or flooring in order to get rid of the urine stench entirely.

Tobacco odors. The smell of cigarettes is nearly as common of a complaint as pet odors. Tobacco smoke can permeate all kinds of porous surfaces.  Not only can it leave odors behind, but it can cause yellowing of walls, ceilings, floors and fabrics.

When there’s a tobacco odor problem, calling in professionals is a must. Painting over walls without treating them first will compound the problem.

Neither pet odors nor tobacco odors have to be deal breakers. However, you should know that there will be some work and costs associated with getting such homes move-in ready.  

Mold and mildew odors. Despite Arizona’s dry air, you still might smell a musty, damp odor in a home. Often, this is due to a problem with the HVAC system, but it can also come from drains in a vacant home.

To really get to the bottom of what’s causing the mildew smell, you would need to have an indoor environmental specialist take air and surface samples. This will tell you what molds are present for proper mold cleanup, removal and remediation. At the very least, you should have a specialist look for leaks, professionally clean all porous surfaces and run a dehumidifier to take away the dampness.

As your agent, I can help identify issues that you need to be aware of when buying a home and guide you through the entire process. This is true whether you see a home in-person or rely on me to provide you with a video tour.

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