Are Hidden Odors Preventing Your Home From Being Sold?

A current Febreze campaign states “You’ve gone nose blind” to things like pet odors in your car or smells in your home. Scientifically, they’re correct.

When you enter a new environment, you quickly notice the distinct odors, whether they are of smelly gym shoes, cigarette smoke, or cinnamon-scented air freshener. However, once you’ve been in that environment for a while, the receptors in your nose become less sensitive to it, and the smell fades.

The reason is that once your brain perceives the scent to be nonthreatening, the receptors in your nose switch off, reported Pamela Dalton, a member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, who has studied nose-blindness for more than 20 years.

You Can’t Smell Your Own House, But Others Can

“Unfortunately, odors in a home can be a delicate issue when it comes to selling a home,” said Jane E. Webb, a Realtor with Casey Margenau Fine Homes & Estates. “You may not notice the smells you are used to, but a potential buyer will, the moment they walk in.”

“The main odor problem we find comes from cooking odors,” she explained. “Here in Northern Virginia, we have a plethora of all types of nationalities, and they cook with spices. And they don’t always understand that their cooking smells may offend other people.” The second-most common odor problem comes from smoking, followed by pet odors, and in addition to heavy smells, allergies may be a problem.

“Sellers need to understand that people can’t mentally bond with or move into a house that has an odor problem,” Webb said. “It is a delicate conversation to have with the home owner, and is well worth the money to have the problem remediated. Otherwise, the challenge has to be overcome with price. Depending on how long the home sits on the market, the price could end up being reduced by ten thousand, fifteen thousand, or more.”

We Don’t Want to Have to Reduce the Price

“I definitely see homes that have smells like strong foods, pet odor, and smoke,” said Bryan Felder, Associate Broker with The Virginia Realty Group at RE/MAX Gateway. Like most Realtors, he would rather not lower the price. “It devalues both the house and the neighborhood,” he explained.

“People know when you’re trying to mask a smell, as with a heavy air freshener or a warm cookie smell,” he said. “They expect a natural, fresh smell and are deterred when they encounter a heavy odor.”

Realtors have been recommending all sorts of ways to remediate heavy odors in a home, including painting every room, deep steaming and deodorizing, carpets, and cleaning ductwork. But sometimes the odor lingers, or will return quickly.

“Paint is porous, so even if the home is freshly painted, odors like cigarette smoke will come back through after a while,” said Joe Gregory, co-owner of BioShock.

Don’t Mask Odors, Knock Them Out for Good

Rather than masking odors, BioShock offers a way to eliminate them altogether—permanently—through safe, smart, and effective air purification.

The BioShock technology takes ozone, a naturally-forming element found in our atmosphere, and injects it into the home using a series of powerful corona discharge ozone generators for a period of 12 to 15 hours. This brings the ozone level within the home up to a high concentration.

As Gregory explains it, “Being an unstable element, that third molecule of oxygen wants to bond with the odor-causing molecules, and when that reaction takes places, the odor-causing element is permanently neutralized and eliminated. It is like resetting the air in the home because when ozone reacts with something, the by-product is pure oxygen.”

“People know when you’re trying to mask a smell, as with a heavy air freshener or a warm cookie smell,” he said. “They expect a natural, fresh smell and are deterred when they encounter a heavy odor.”

Once the treatment is completed, the house is completely aired out, tested using ozone meters, and safe for occupation. The only lingering effect is a slight chlorine-type “new home” smell that many people find refreshing. This completely fades away within a few days.

“It is the volume of ozone we create from our machines that facilitates the permanent odor removal,” Gregory said. “It is a completely green technology that not only removes odors, but mold spores, viruses, germs, mildew, dust mites, paint fumes, unhealthy pollutants and other allergens as well.” Priced by the square footage, it can be less expensive than cleaning out the ductwork, and BioShock will eliminate odors for good.

A Perfect Example

Felder recently listed a townhouse filled with what he described as “heavy, heavy pet and smoke odor. It was so bad that the contractor hired to work in on the home couldn’t even stand it, and people who were previewing the house were turned off by the smell.”

“I had heard about BioShock and thought the technology was cool, but didn’t really understand how it worked, so I thought this might be the perfect project to try it out,” Felder said. “BioShock came on Thursday evening, and by Friday morning they were done. When the contractor returned on Friday, he was confused. He said ‘Bryan, this is a different house!’ Weeks later, it still smells great and is under contract. I’m a raving fan and will use it on all my homes that have an odor problem.”

Remove Objections to Sell Your Home Faster

First of all, challenges like odors from cooking, pets, or mustiness can turn off potential buyers. “If there are several homes to pick from and one smells, they will pick one of the others,” Webb said. Second, the property will sit on the market longer and become stale to potential buyers. Third, sellers will most likely not get their asking price; the objection will create a negotiating point on price.

With an option like BioShock, there is simply no reason not to prepare your home for a quick and high-dollar sale. If your Realtor says “Your house stinks,” take them seriously and do something about it.


Joe & Lisa Gregory

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