Dog Smell...House Won't Sell?

By: Laura McBride

Dog Smell...House Won't Sell?

Tags: real estate, buyer, seller, sutton group, dog, property value, smell, cleaning, moving, pet owner, listing, prepare, adding value, inspire, laura mcbride, attract, gta, toronto, ajax, pickering whitby, markham, scarborough


You love him. I get it. But, your four legged BFF is making it hard for me to sell your home.

I can see online that your home is stylishly on trend and has some really smart recent home improvements. Your Realtor® has done right by you, using a professional photographer, who has captured lots of your bells and whistles. It's priced well for the market and seems to be the perfect home for my Buyers. My Buyers were excited...but it stinks!

Of all the senses, smell can make the biggest impact - negative and positive - when selling your home. There is a reason freshly baked cookies are still the cliché real estate tip, as they evoke happy memories and future togetherness in the home. Pet smells, however, have a detrimental effect on value and the overall success of your listing. With one whiff, a Buyer will imagine every possible training accident, pile of dog hair and potential asthma inducing dander.

If you are thinking of making a move, here are 4 things you MUST do to ensure your furry friend doesn't decrease your market value:

1. Clean All Hard Surfaces

Believe it or not, dried dog saliva is one of the smelliest culprits when sourcing "the stink" and it finds it's way onto EVERYTHING!! I know what you're thinking - cleaning is a "no-brainer" right? Wrong! Using sudsy hot water, like we do usually, to clean up dog drool can actually cook the proteins in saliva and make them set, so cold water is best for this big job. Wash Floors, Walls, Windows (why does every dog love to lick the glass?), tables, counters, toys and anything else your dog may have licked (trust me they've licked everything, so wash it all)! 

Dog Drool Cleaner
1/4 cup White Vinegar + 1 tsp Dish Soap + 1 Cup Cold Water + 1 tsp Baking Soda. Mix it all in a clean spray bottle, spray EVERYTHING, scrub gently and wipe dry using a clean rag.

2. Wash Soft Surfaces

Although dogs don't sweat like we humans do, they do perspire and secrete a signature scent from the pads on their feet and hair follicles. Dogs that have a poor diet, yeast infections on the skin or other underlying health issues can also produce an excessive amount of oil from various glands under the skin, which of course ends up on your fabric. In addition, ear wax that ends up on surfaces after rubbing or playing can be extremely pungent smelling and is waxy, so take care to remove it all.
Soft surfaces in your home, like sofas, "favourite chairs", mattresses, linens, and carpets will need to be deep cleaned to rid them of that doggy smell. Even if you keep a very clean home, to a non dog owner it probably has an odour. 
The average cost of professional carpet & upholstery cleaning is about $50-$75 per room and well worth it. A lot of Buyers like to sit down on furniture and try to imagine themselves in the space. Make sure they leave with inspiration and not a sweater's worth of pet hair or a really funky smell!

3. Ducts

If you have a central HVAC system (not rads or baseboard heat) and you own a dander producing pet (exception are hypo-allergenic pets with hair not fur), then you have dander in your ducts. Dander, simply put is "dog dust", pet skin or a pesky allergen to many people (aka Buyers). I know the thought of duct cleaning is a controversial debate (ring, ring "would you like your ducts cleaned" eye roll) for many of you out there, but trust me, dog dust blowing through the vents during a showing can't smell good, so spend the $300 bucks to a reputable company and advertise the "freshly cleaned ducts" in your listing. It's one less reason for your house to smell ;)

(Photo:Redstart Construction)

4. Your Pet is THERE?

It always perplexes me why some homeowners choose to leave their pets home during showings, especially dogs. I, as a dog owner, can understand that not everyone wants to board their pet at a kennel, or has someone at the ready to take the him/her out for a quick walk before a last minute showing. But, please figure this one out! Your pet should NOT be home ever during visits - even cats can be a turn off. I strongly advise that you arrange for your pet to be away for the entire listing period, as it makes your listing way more accessible to agents and their clients. Not only will Rover never turn off ( or frighten) a high paying Buyer, be harmed or put at risk by unattended minors and unknowing strangers, or sneak out (causing negative chaos to be associated with your listing), but you will also have less to clean up each day and that is never a bad thing.

You don't have to hide all traces of your four legged family member when listing your home for sale, in fact, many Buyers may be inspired to dream of getting their own pet, after seeing how easy it appears to be for you in your super clean, pet vacant home.  A neutral smelling home appeals to all Buyers and that's how to attract the best price.

If you have questions about removing a particular smell around your home, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to help!