The Worst Smells That Can Make Your Home Hard to Sell

When looking for your next home to buy, don’t forget to sniff the air. While indoor odors like animal urine or mold can be readily detectable, you might not catch a whiff of a nearby outdoor stench unless you spend a few minutes outside walking around the property. 

Keep in mind that a house located near a landfill, factory, or ranch might be a hard sell. No one wants to wake up and be greeted with that type of scent that permeates the property. Here are common odors to beware of that are sometimes located near a residential area and may lead to buyer’s remorse. 


Living within a mile or two of a largescale factory means that area properties may be exposed to fumes from the processing operations. The odor of rubber, steel, or pet food being made is neither appetizing nor healthy. If the facility is operated most days of the week on more than one shift, the resulting effect could be damaging to homes in the area. It is important to find out about any local manufacturing currently in place or with plans for future operations in the vicinity. 


Although we think of farms as wholesome places of growth and serenity, they can sometimes produce strong smells that are repugnant, especially at certain times of the year. Spreading manure over the tilled soil in the spring to prepare for planting leaves a distinctive odor wafting through the air. During the summer, the scent of fertilizers and pesticides or herbicides may be detected. Large herds of grazing cows can produce large volumes of methane gas. Diesel fuel for farm machinery and equipment might also be noticed depending on the proximity of a property to the farm.

Meat Packing

A meat packing plant, or slaughterhouse, is one of the worst facilities to move close to. The place can reek during hours of operation particularly on windy days when the aroma circulates all around the area and on days of oppressive heat when the air does not stir enough to remove the repulsive odor. Although most facilities are kept clean according to state and federal standards, an inescapable scent can sometimes be detected when local residents are outside their homes doing lawn work or entertaining guests. 

Chemical Plant

Properties that are located near a chemical plant may be concerned about the potentially toxic effects of strange odors emanating from a chemical plant in the region. Since the smells are generally unidentified, local residents have no idea when the smell turns bad as a warning that dangerous substances or their production byproducts are being released. A bad odor is offensive even if it is not toxic, but the risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals in the air or a possible facility explosion is enough to repel the most ardent home buyers. Realtors should be aware of the odors and find out what they are as well as how to know if the chemical smell is hazardous to human health.

Waste Management

A waste management facility can release overwhelming odors that can make a person gag. Living near this type of business is difficult, especially when the wind carries the smell closer to residential homes. Collected trash to be compacted, human waste to be processed, and a range of other processes that emit terrible smells can send home buyers fleeing in the opposite direction. It is helpful to find out the hours of operation and whether future plans suggest possible closure of the facility or potential expansion. The company might be working on ways of managing the stench, so that area residents will not be impacted by it.

Natural Landscapes

Surprisingly, you might assume that a peaceful woodland or a quiet lake might be the ideal place for a home. Sometimes that is true. But in certain locations, a lovely stream might carry the smell of rotting fish. A leafy forest could be the habitat for creatures like skunks that flip their tails often. Some scenic spots might be a popular watering hole or feeding ground for wildlife where territorial battles break out and leave the losers as dead carcasses that quickly develop a putrid odor. A few species of plants and trees may have pungent smells that are not attractive to homebuyers. 

A realtor needs to perform due diligence on the odor factor in addition to the other neighborhood assessments. Prospective buyers deserve to know about offensive odors that could negatively impact their lifestyle in a new home. Identifying a bad smell doesn’t have to be an automatic negative checkmark for a property, though. Find out if mitigation measures have been implemented or will be in the future, such as bulk activated charcoal. If so, you can alleviate a potential buyer’s concerns by explaining the situation in full and letting that person make the decision about whether to buy the property.