How the Right Smell Can Sell Your Home

Jessica Richardson Real Estate

Who hasn’t heard that the smell of freshly baked brownies or chocolate chip cookies will sell a home more quickly?  Is that a myth or does that really work? And which smells are the most effective?

“When you’re in the real estate business, you want someone to walk in and want to stay in the house, so you want (the scent) not to be overbearing, but familiar. You want it to encourage revisiting, because sometimes it takes several visits to decide to buy,” says Eric Spangenberg, Dean of the College of Business at Washington State University, who has spent years studying the effect of smell on buying behavior.

Most Realtors and industry experts agree. The scent should be simple, fresh, familiar and not overbearing.  Scents such as vanilla, pine, citrus and fresh flowers definitely fit the bill. In cooler months, a pot of water simmering on the stove with cinnamon and cloves can make a home smell so warm and inviting.

Why does smell matter?

Buying a home is an emotional decision, with buyers buying not just the home but the lifestyle and ambiance they want.   A lot of effort goes into de-cluttering and staging homes for sale so that buyers can imagine themselves living there, and your home’s smell should be given the same consideration.

“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”, said Vladimir Nabokov. Our sense of smell is linked directly to the part of the brain responsible for emotions and memory, the olfactory cortex. According to The Smell Report, humans have about 5-6 million olfactory receptors.  Dogs, famous for their sense of smell, have 220 million receptors and bears have a sense of smell 7x greater than a bloodhound, and can smell food up to 18 miles away.  Luckily there are not a lot of dogs and bears buying homes, but making your home smell appealing is still important…

How to make your house smell appealing

The list of unappealing smells to buyers is obvious:  cigarette smoke, pet urine and litter boxes, incense, moth balls, food smells, diaper pails, mold and mildew. Though more than 75% of households use air fresheners, many of them have dangerous chemicals and don’t smell very natural or “clean”. Rather than cover up odors, a few simple tips can help eliminate the bad smells in your home.  Opening windows, cleaning surfaces with vinegar, sprinkling baking soda on carpets and upholstery (then vacuum!) and even sprinkling baking soda in your trash can to absorb odors.

Essential oils can also help.  Use ones with a relaxing vibe and wide appeal such as lavender, citrus or vanilla.  You can even put a few drops on lamps’ lightbulbs to release the scent into the room when the light is turned on.

Special Attention to the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home, especially when selling.

Women make many of the home buying decisions, and the kitchen needs to look and smell great. Clean any stinky food out of the refrigerator, take out the trash, clean out the trash can, and don’t forget the disposer.  Put some orange peels and ice and grind away to absorb any funky odors.

About the Author

Jessica Richardson