When you’re checking out open houses in pursuit of buying a home, it’s advisable to make observations with all five of your senses. And the one you may be under-utilizing most is your nose.

Why? Your sense of smell can help you detect issues that could cost you money if they go unnoticed until later.

If you notice these odors and are still considering a purchase, you may wish to hire a professional who can identify their cause and estimate remediation costs.

  • Cigarette smoke. Heavy smoke odors can be nearly impossible to remove from carpets, walls, cabinets and wood trim, and such “third-hand smoke” has been identified as a potential health hazard.
  • Mustiness. A pungent stale smell could be emanating from unaddressed moisture issues or even hidden mold, which is often problematic to people with allergies and asthma.
  • Gas. A rotten egg smell may indicate a dangerous gas leak somewhere in the house.
  • Urine and other pet smells. These pervasive odors may necessitate removal of carpets and other floorings. Painting may also be required.
  • Sewage. Leakage of sewer gas could be a big problem, since it often contains toxic and/or explosive elements like hydrogen sulfide and methane. Clogged plumbing or ventilation pipes could be the culprits.
  • Random gaminess. A wild animal and/or feces odor could point to rodents, raccoons, squirrels or other animals (dead or alive) in the attic or between walls.