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Toilets, smells, and real estate

Posted by Rona Fischman September 5, 2012 02:03 PM

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Today, BREN goes to the toilet. When I wrote about open house and showing security for sellers, I also mentioned that some people are very grossed-out about toilets. Some buyers, like JenDiBa below, canít get passed it. Some sellers, too, find it an insult for a stranger to use their private toilet without permission.

JenDiBa wrote: Once we went into the upstairs bathroom while touring a house with an agent. We went to flush it and found it had been used (#2) but not flushed - presumably used by the owners! We were so disgusted it was really hard to get past it when thinking about this house!

Are you someone who would lose all objectivity about a house once you realize the sellers didnít flush when finished in the bathroom? If so, are you equally offended by smelly laundry or piles of dirty dishes? How about cat-vomit?

My clients make up nicknames for houses they have seen. Usually, it will be the street name or something like the blue kitchen or the porch. I bet that Jen and her partner called this house toilet or named it for what was in that toilet.

Smells do matter. Our brains are hard-wired to respond to them on a deep-memory level. So, the gross-out runs deep. I have written about smells before. Are you affected by smells? Or, are you affected by what you think of the seller for demonstrating such poor hygiene?

In the heat of the summer and the most closed-in part of the winter, houses smell. Sellers, don't think that using perfumed candles, or sprays, or baking cookies helps. You only add a new smell to the mix. It is sort of like using deodorant when you haven't showered since last week.

Some smells are part of the house, and some are part of the family. Most family smells leave with the family. Family smells include: dirty laundry, dog beds, cat boxes, "science projects" in the refrigerator, smoking, diaper pails, trash bins. House smells include: damp basements, leaking waste pipes, leaking oil tanks or fittings, mold, mildew, urine outside of toilet or cat box.

I am happy that summer is coming to a close. In the autumn, people tend to open the windows and air out their houses. Things smell fresher when the cool air is blowing. Is there such a thing as ďautumn cleaning?Ē Should there be? Whatís your take on sellers who show dirty or smelly houses?

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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