When you step into a house that you're thinking about buying, you may get hit with a strong scent. This is especially the case during an open house. Many sellers attempt to make their residence appealing through a variety of scents, whether it's using scented candles, air fresheners, or actually going to the effort of baking a pie or cookies shortly before you arrive. In some cases, the scent may be overpowering, and this could make you and your real estate agent concerned that the seller is attempting to mask another odor. A house that has had water damage, for example, may smell of mildew—and the seller may seek to disguise it through the above means. Here are some ways to deal with this situation.
Book A Showing Later On
Because some sellers go all out for open houses, but may not put the same effort into scenting the house for a private showing, scheduling a showing with your agent can be an effective way to assess the scent of the house. Ideally, it won't be strongly scented and you'll feel confident that the seller wasn't attempting to cover up an unpleasant odor during your last visit. This may especially be the case if you book a showing on short notice and the seller doesn't have time to do fresh baking.
Open The Windows
If you're in the house and the scent is overpowering, one way to deal with the situation is to open the windows. You have the right to see how the windows work, and leaving them open (provided that it's not the middle of winter, for example) can help the scent to dissipate. This may reveal whether the house smells neutral or perhaps has an odor of mildew. You can also blow out any scented candles that are burning and even unplug any potent air fresheners.
Ask The Listing Agent
There's no harm in being up front about your concern with the listing agent. If you're still unconvinced whether the seller has been using strong smells to mask an unpleasant odor in the house, schedule another showing and ask the agent if the seller can refrain from scenting the house—and don't be afraid to ask if there's water damage or another issue affecting the smell of the house. If you show up for the showing and the house smells fine, you're in good shape. However, if the seller has ignored your request and has scented the house again, it's probably best to shift your attention to another property for sale.
Contact a real estate agent for more information about buying real estate.