Can a Scent Sell A House?

Can scents sell a house? It might seem like a bit of a superstitious question until you turn it on it’s head. Instead of asking if a good scent would sell a house, ask yourself “would I buy a house that smelled bad?”. 

Depending on the home in question (and the market you were buying in), it might not stop you from buying but it definitely wouldn’t help. Where the wrong scent could discourage buyers from spending any time at your open house, the right scent could quickly make them feel at home (more on that later). 

The Venn Diagram of Scent and Emotion

Sense of smell is found throughout the animal kingdom and has influenced our emotions and behaviour for thousands of years (back when I would have been showing my homo-erectus buyers a cave instead of a 3 bedroom 2 bath). Not only have certain scents been found to arouse emotions like hunger (think baked bread), scientists have done studies that showed the mix of light and scent can actually lower people’s blood pressures, reduce their heart rate and improve their mood

Buying a home is an incredibly big decision for buyers and in that way, can be emotional. Scent is a key part in creating an atmosphere that makes potential buyers feel at-ease and at-home in your open house. This increases your chances of selling your home quickly (if you’re lucky,  even at above your asking price). 

Clean is Key

Before I dive into the scents that help to sell a house, we need to talk about the bad scents to avoid. Plain and simple, these are the dirty scents: mould, mildew, smoke, pet dander, septic. 

I’ve heard stories of enthusiastic buyers who were all but ready to move in to listing they saw online. When they booked their viewing with the selling agent, they were hit with the scent of mouldy carpeting as soon as they walked through the door.  It was enough to change their minds and walk away. This was a missed opportunity for the seller who could have replaced the carpet and got himself a sale that day. 

The rule on this is simple: first, get things clean and then work on your ‘signature’ scent (a scented candle is no match for an unkempt pet room). Concentrate first on doing a deep clean in the areas where scents tend to linger – bathroom, kitchens, or any area where work might have been previously done. Then move onto the rest of the house. 

Once you’ve completed a good deep clean, avoid doing any really harsh cleaning in the days leading up to your home staging and open home. Just as dirty scents can affect prospective buyers’ moods, so too can a house that scents ‘too clean’. 

You know what I mean: walking into a room where there’s a strong scent of bleach or other cleaning products can give an eerie, Dexter-like vibe that’s not exactly prime for putting buyers at-ease. If you have to do some deeper cleaning closer to a showing, I recommend diluting some of your strong disinfectants or using less-scenty alternatives like baking soda.

 

Best scents to Sell a House

Now that we’ve covered the bad, let’s move into the good scents in your home. 

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of simple scents that don’t overpower the atmosphere and instead, simply add to it. Your home’s scent should reinforce the overall feeling of your home. Warm nostalgic scents like fresh-baked bread or baked goods (like cinnamon or vanilla) work incredibly well in comfy family-style homes. 

Selling something a little more modern? Natural, fresh scents like jasmine, pine or citrus can give your space a clean, almost zen like atmosphere. In fact, a study in 2010 found that the scent of jasmine has an almost valium-like effect on our anxiety.  

 

How to Subtly Add Scent to Your Home 

Building on the atmosphere of your home without overpowering it should be top of mind when considering how to ‘scent’ your home for staging. Subtle candles, quality aroma oils, or the real thing (baked cookies or bread) create a calm atmosphere. Conversely, using artificial scents, like the strong masking smell of Febreeze, can cause buyers to be suspicious that the homeowner is trying to cover up the smell of a bigger problem (mould, plumbing issues, etc). 

Whatever scent you choose, first deal with the dirty and then find something that smells good and simply adds to but doesn’t overpower the overall feeling of your home. Taking that thoughtfulness and effort in staging will help you sell quickly for the best price.  Curious about how to stage and present your North Okanagan home for the best price? Start with your free online home evaluation now >