Open House Scents – Smells That Help You Sell

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Real Estate

If you’re planning an open house soon, be sure the home can pass the smell test. How a home smells is one of the most important considerations in ensuring a timely sale. We humans have a sense of smell that in many ways is more influential to a home sale than our visual senses. That’s because our sense of smell rarely fails to jog our memories, and those can be either good or bad memories. There’s real biology to back this up, too. Dr. Jordan Gaines offers a simple but clear explanation in her article for Psychology Today:

Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory:  the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.
For your next open house, you will want to trigger good memories for your potential clients’ olfactories! This means when you are staging a home for sale, in addition to all the visual niceties that either you, or your home staging company will add, you will want to make the home’s scent a high priority. Or at least as important as any other improvements you plan to make.

Open house prep: a good riddance to bad smells
Before you start staging for scents at your next open house, first you need to rid the home of bad scents. If you’re selling a home where the homeowners are currently living, remind them to prepare their home in the days ahead of the open house. This prep is particularly important because our olfactories tend to fail us when it comes to our sense of smell in the home we live in. There’s a term for this: Nose Blind. Remind current homeowners, for example, to not cook heavy or rich foods, especially meat or fish, ahead of an open house. Other bad smells that can linger in a home include pets, shoes, dust, and smoke. (Another good reminder before an open house: no wood-burning or smoking in the home.)

You’ll also want homeowners to follow these simple preps ahead of an open house:

Clean: have your homeowners do a whole house clean two to three days prior to open house, or if the home is empty, be sure to hire a local cleaning service within the same time frame.
Open the windows: The morning of the open house, open up windows, weather permitting. Fresh air welcomes visitors much better than musty air.
Sweep the front steps, walkway, or porch. Just before the scheduled open house is the best time to sweep to minimize dust and duff entering with guests.
Once a home has been rid of the bad, it will be easier to stage the open house with good scents. Let’s look at what smells are most pleasing to prospective buyers of homes.

Open house scents that please the olfactories
Because fall is upon us, we’ll focus on scents that bring out those good autumn memories we humans share. Many of these scents when deployed before an open house can also help you sell a home any time of year.

Here are the whole house scents that trigger the best in our autumn smell sense:

cedar wood

Remember: apply only one whole house fragrance.

Many of these autumn scents also made the list of the best scents for selling, according to a study published in the Journal of Retailing. The study found that these scents trigger positively:

green tea

When you are staging a home, look for scented candles, diffusers, simmering pots, or oil plug-ins that have one of these fragrances and deploy only that one. Humans like a good smell but not a bombardment of smells, good or bad.

Surprisingly, the same study also suggests that for open houses you should never use:

chocolate-chip cookies
gourmet foods
other baked goods

I would argue, however, that there can’t be many humans around who dislike the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. That doesn’t even seem human, so take that advice with a grain of smelling salts. Regardless, choose one of the scents that best help you sell when staging your next open house.