The Sweet Smells of Selling Your Home

So your house is on the market and you’re ready to make a dynamic first impression on potential buyers. Besides ensuring that your house looks and feels inviting, making sure it smells pleasant can help generate interest during showings. While traditional wisdom suggests that freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies will add a homey and enticing scent to your abode, new research indicates that the smell of these baked goods may be overwhelming to purchasers.

According to The Wall Street Journal (“Using Smell to Make a Sale,” February 15, 2013), complex scents—like cookies and potpourri—can accidently distract potential buyers from focusing on your home because they could be subconsciously trying to decipher the aroma. Researchers tested this theory by adding various scents to a home décor store in Switzerland: Of the 402 people observed, consumers on average purchased 31.8 percent more when the store was scented with a simple scent—such as orange or vanilla—than when it was scented with a complex scent; consumers on average purchased 23.6 percent more when the store was scented with a simple scent than when it wasn’t scented at all.

Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University and a member of the research team, says people selling their homes can apply the same principles as well. He recommends using simple scents such as lemon, pine or basil to scent your home for showings because it’s easy for people to process these aromas. Without having their focus pulled away by complex smells, potential buyers can give more focus to the house and in turn be more open to spending. To ensure you’re home smells great, try using cleaning products that have a citrus smell, or use vanilla-scented candles or sprays in your home. Better yet, use the real thing to freshen up your house by bringing a basil plant into the kitchen during showings. Try to stick to one simple scent that unobtrusively permeates the house, and make sure your scent matches the atmosphere of your home, such as adding a pine or cedar scent to a log cabin.