If you only knew the things I see as a real estate agent.  I think we all have this idea that every house a real estate agent goes to is in perfect shape.  There are brand new appliances, gorgeous carpets, and inviting landscaping to entice people to buy a home.  After many listing appointments, I can tell you that if you do actually get a nice house to list, you should consider yourself lucky as a real estate agent.  Home sellers, I have found 1 sure sign you’re going to have trouble selling your house.  I call it “The shower test.”

The “Shower Test”

Have you ever been in a house where there is pet excrement laying on the carpets?  How about a house where you go to open the door and your hand sticks to the doorknob?  What about a house with a smell that stays with you for days after you’ve been there?  When I’m showing houses for sale and come across these “gems”, all I want is to get home and take a shower.  The shower test is a pass/fail test I use to determine the chances of a house selling.

How Does The Shower Test Work?

Since I made it up, it’s pretty simple.  I’ve seen a lot of disgusting houses in my career.  One in particular stands out.  I was in the home of a nice older woman who just happened to be a hoarder.  Well, she had a dog.  I didn’t go to pet the dog when it came up to me, but the dog brushed against my leg.  Now, I’m not an expert on flees, but something was jumping off that dog and biting me in the leg.  The next day, I had huge sores all over my leg.  When I’d gotten home from that listing appointment, I’d taken a shower but I didn’t burn my clothes.   I probably should have.  If I go to a listing appointment, and I have to go home to shower before I do any more work for the day, that is a sure sign you’re going to have trouble selling your house.  Similarly, if I am showing houses as a buyer’s agent,  and the buyers want to leave the house we are viewing and immediately stop our search to go home and take a shower, the house is going to have trouble selling.

Why Should I Care If You Need A Shower After Viewing My House?

Well, think about that for a minute.  You want someone to buy your house, but they are currently so disgusted by it that they need to go home and take a shower.  I don’t even think I have too high of a bar for cleanliness or anything like that.  I consider myself pretty rational.  But again, you need someone that is going to want to buy your house.  And, you want to put yourself in the best possible position to sell that house.  Keep this in mind before you decide to list the home in the first place.

How Can I Not Have Trouble Selling My House?

Here’s the thing:  I will tell you if your house is shower test eligible.  There are real estate agents out there who will act like nothing is wrong with putrid smells or disgusting filth.  When you go to list your house with them, they’ll either act shocked when no offers come in, or they will price the house lower due to the smells.  Here are some signs you might have trouble selling your house.  If you come across any of these things, you should probably re-assess listing price and preparation for listing your home for sale.


  1. If you walk in a room, do you immediately want to walk back out? That’s not a great sign.  What made you want to leave the room?  Was it a smell?  You want people who want to be in your rooms and feel comfortable.


  1. Is there a particular smell you’ve never smelled before and it’s only in your house? That’s not a great sign either.  I know, I know, air fresheners will trick a few buyers, but if something really smells bad, that smell is in the carpets, the walls, etc.  It’s going to need more than an air freshener.


  1. Are there “no go” rooms? Have a 3 bedroom house but there’s one room you can’t get in or don’t want to let someone else in?  That’s a sign that you’re going to have trouble selling your house.  I was once in a house that was filthy.  I was definitely going to have to go home to take a shower.  The home sellers wouldn’t even let me go to the basement because “it was dirty.”  They were doing me a favor.


  1. If the house has carpets, are they the original color, or a different color than when you installed them? I once listed a home where the carpet was brown.  I told the owners that it would be good if they got their carpets cleaned because the house kind of smelled and the carpet was a bit worn.  The carpet cleaner called me and asked me what I wanted to do with the brown stains on the white carpet.  I said, “What are you talking about?  The carpets are brown.”  He very politely said, “I’m sorry, the carpets were originally white, they’re just very dirty.”  We ended up putting down new carpet.  Bonus:  Ever wonder why someone would go through the trouble of having new carpet installed BEFORE a house gets listed for sale?  Now you know.  You’re welcome.

I’m Not Kidding

I know it might seem “funny” that people would have a reaction like this when they see your house.  It isn’t.  It’s gross.  Some real estate agents might be thinking, “well, I only list luxury properties, this never happens to me.”  I’ve seen very expensive homes be filled with hoarders.  This isn’t an economic issue, this is a hygiene issue.  If your house is so terrible that I have to take a shower afterwards, that’s 1 sure sign you’re going to have trouble selling your house.