A Real Estate Agent’s Unexpected Secret Weapon (Hint: It's the Fifth Sense)

When working with a real estate agent, you might consider their knowledge of the market, negotiating skills, and responsiveness. However, there is one surprising trait that could significantly benefit buyers and sellers alike that most people never consider: a finely tuned sense of smell.

The Practical Benefits of the Fifth Sense

Google the benefits of a sense of smell in real estate and you will see articles on scent marketing and the benefits of scents to sell homes. Think the smell of freshly baked cookies to make a home feel inviting.

While that is all fine and good, it overlooks the importance of olfaction for detecting subtle issues in a property that might be potential deal-breakers or, even worse, pose safety risks. This includes odours from mildew, dampness, sewage problems, pet smells, cigarette smoke, or worse. These smells can indicate larger, hidden problems that could cost a lot to fix down the line. Additionally, detecting these odours early in the viewing process can help in making informed decisions about a property’s true condition.

True Story

Here’s a personal experience that underscores the critical importance of this often-overlooked skill. Recently, my associate and I returned to a property after door knocking in the community to invite neighbours to an exclusive “sneak peek” open house the following day. The home in question had a pre-listing inspection and an up-to-date maintenance contract for its furnace. Everything seemed in order.

However, upon entering the basement, something caught my attention—a faint odour that didn’t smell quite right. Trusting my instincts, I sniffed around like a bloodhound, trying to pinpoint the source. Concerned, I called down my associate to take a whiff. After a moment, she questioned, "Is that gas?" to which I replied that I thought it was. We promptly informed the homeowner and contacted Enbridge. Within twenty minutes, a technician was on-site. With gas detector in hand, he diagnosed at least two gas leaks, tagged the furnace and shut off the gas supply.

Thanks to identifying the smell early, we managed to address the issue promptly in advance of the open house, averting what could have been a dangerous situation. It’s hard to imagine the consequences had these leaks gone unnoticed.


This incident demonstrates how beneficial it can be to have a real estate agent with a strong sense of smell. It's not merely about enhancing the sensory experience of a property; it’s about ensuring the safety and well-being of all parties involved. For sellers, having an agent with this ability can mean catching potentially costly problems before they escalate. For buyers, it means having an advocate who can sniff out problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

An agent with a sharp sense of smell isn’t just selling homes—they’re safeguarding your investment and ensuring peace of mind, one sniff at a time.