How to avoid basement deal killers in summer listings

Published 22 May 15 06:51 PM | Gord McCormick 

Summer is a lovely time of year but unfortunately can raise some significant buyer issues which are real impediments to getting deals done.  Though in most cases these issues are solvable, sellers should be cautious to review carefully the air quality and other issues in their basements at this more humid time of the year. 

Stale, damp odour from excess humidity:

The biggest issues are humidity and lack of air movement which can combine to form that damp smell many will identify as mould or mildew. Many buyers will think this is caused by either water penetration through basement walls, around windows or via back up-none of which is a happy thought for a buyer.  

Other odours exaggerated:

We visit many homes that exhibit other odours which are exaggerated by the lack of air movement or excess humidity.  Some odours can be related to pets, carpets which have been soiled or stained, cold cellars, athletic gear, teenager rooms etc. 

Homeowners often oblivious:

When owners live in a property every day, they are accustomed to the ambient smell and may not notice that odours are elevated to the point of turning a buyer off a property. 

How to prevent “funky” basement smells:

1) run furnace fan regularly to keep air moving.

2) run dehumidifier regularly in high humidity summer days to remove excess moisture

3) clean carpeting and furniture that may be contributing to odour

4) use portable fans as a backup, if furnace fan alone does not do the trick.

5) open basement windows or run HRV on low humidity days to provide additional air refresh

6) check bathroom and floor drains to ensure water level prevents backflow of air and sewer smell or install backflow valve.

7) check around baseboard areas in spring or after heavy rainfall to ensure no leaks have occurred.

8) no smoking

9) manage pet litter trays and basement access as much as possible. 

Lighting also a factor:

Make sure your basement is well lit and that the lights are on for buyer showings.  The more “dungeon like” a basement appears, the less attractive its living space becomes. 

Buggy basements or wildlife no bonus for buyers:

Do a thorough check to make sure you don’t have any visitors.  Those older or country properties or who rarely even go down in their basement will want to be especially careful that there are no bugs or evidence of other critters having visited or taken up residence down there. 

Utility and furnace rooms are important:

Make sure the space is well organized in your utility room and that buyers and Realtors can have good access to furnaces, hot water tanks, HRV’s, electrical panels.  Tags and maintenance stickers showing these have been regularly maintained and updated are a good sign for buyers.


Summer is a great time to sell a home, in fact it is the 2nd best time after the peak months of April-June, so don’t forget the basement when it comes to having your listing really ready for buyers!


Gord McCormick, Broker of Record

Dawn Davey, Broker

Oasis Realty Brokerage



Full service and lower commissions for sellers!

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