By Katie Wainman | June 2, 2020

A bad odor can run you right out of your potential dream home. Not only are certain smells extremely unpleasant, but they are often hard to remove from a house. While you are searching for your next home, be sure to put your nose to work as well. If you are participating in a virtual tour thanks to COVID-19, be sure to remind your trusted Realtor to be your nose for you! Here are four odors that buyers should be weary of:

1. Pet Odors

The most common pet odor that lingers in a home is, you guessed it, urine. Pets have accidents Unfortunately if those accidents are not properly taken care of by the homeowner, it can be costly for a buyer to fix. Often times, a buyer will have to replace the carpets/flooring and wash the walls to try to remove any pet odors. Even then, buying an air filter might be necessary.

If you are touring a home that has an obvious pet odor, it is definitely something you are going to want to discuss with the homeowner before you put in an offer.

2. Mold/Mildew

Even if you are walking into a beautiful multi-million dollar listing, if you notice an overwhelming scent of mold or mildew, it can ruin the entire experience. Not only is the smell displeasing, but it can also be harmful to your health.

Houses that smell of mold most likely have an ongoing moisture problem. If you notice the scent of mold, it is important to have an indoor environmental specialist come and test the house for mold and mildew, and the entire house should be checked for leaks as well.

3. Sulfur

If you have never had the experience of walking into a home that smells like sulfur, then you are lucky. 'Rotten eggs' is not a candle scent for a reason.

Removing the smell of sulfur can go beyond just replacing the carpets or putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls. In most cases, the water in the house causes the smell of sulfur. This means that every time you turn on the faucet or start the shower, that smell will resurface.

If you absolutely fall in love with a home, but there is a smell of sulfur, then you are going to want to consider the cost of re-doing the plumbing and possibly digging into your yard to fix the problem, before putting in an offer.

4. Lingering Cigarette Smells

Thankfully, we are no longer in an age where you can light up a cigarette on an airplane or in a restaurant, but there are people who still smoke in their homes. Cigarette odors tend to linger and can become trapped in the floors, walls, ceilings and furniture of a house. It can be one of the hardest scents to get rid of, but it should not necessarily defer you from purchasing the house.

Before making a decision, assess what you might to need to do to get rid of the smell. It could just be minor fixes, such as replacing the drapes, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and shampooing the carpets. However, if the home has an HVAC system exposed to smoke consistently for years, you might have to pay professionals to clean out the air ducts and replace certain parts of the HVAC system to eliminate the odor.

Always ask questions!

If you notice any of these smells in a house, it is important to have a conversation with the homeowner or listing agent to have a better understanding of the situation. If you can only do a virtual tour of the home for safety reasons, make sure your Realtor is being diligent and using their nose knowledge to help you. Looking for odor causing signs such as litter boxes, ashtrays or ceiling/wall/carpet stains can help ensure that you do not buy a smelly home.

Need more advice during the buying/selling process? more real estate tips and tricks!


ABOUT CRYE-LEIKE: Crye-Leike Real Estate Services (, a full service real estate company for over 40 years, is ranked as the third largest independently owned real estate firm in the nation and the largest serving Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and the Mid-South. Crye-Leike has more than 3,200 sales associates, over 800 employees and 140+ company-owned and franchise offices spread across nine states. It generated $6.5 billion in sales volume and 29,925 closed transaction sides corporate wide in 2019 - its biggest year ever - and is on track to achieve the company's goal of $6.8 billion in sales volume this year.