Scent Appeal

    How Do You Create Scent Appeal?

    When selling a home, the details sometimes get overlooked. Turning up the thermostat in colder weather, turning up the AC in warmer months, leaving lights on, are all common tips to make a home feel more welcoming to a potential buyer. Less obviously, the smell of a home can easily create appeal and ambiance, or could even repel a buyer. I was recently in a home that smelled so overpoweringly of cigarette smoke combined with way too much air-freshener and cologne, that as soon as I stepped into the house with the buyers they wanted to leave immediately (as did I.) It was truly nauseating. So to all you sellers, consider the smells in your home: trash, pets, dirty laundry, smelly shoes, workout equipment etc. Be careful not to try to cover up smells with anything too overpowering; for some things you are just going to have to wash/clean and/or throw out whatever is causing the unpleasant scent! And even if your home doesn’t have an unpleasant smell, you can add character and make your home more inviting by creating some “scent appeal.” Here are some interesting tips from Real Estate agents and stagers, followed by a short article (the web links are included):

    “I recommend using lemon or citrus scented candles for showings and running a few lemon wedges through the garbage disposal.” −Christine Spitale, Sunflower Staging, Highland Mills, N.Y.

    “Covering up the smell is not the answer. Sometimes it takes a thorough cleaning of carpets, drapes, and upholstery. It also helps to open windows to get air flowing and to clean out the air ducts.” −Barbara Linick, ERA Troy, REALTORS®, San Antonio

    “I think that cinnamon and vanilla are the best smells when trying to sell a home. I love to walk into a home and breathe in the fresh scent of cinnamon sticks on the stove or smell a burning vanilla candle.” −Fran Hughes, Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Perimeter, Atlanta

    “I always use an electric ceramic crock that can hold small or large glass candles, like from Yankee Candle Co. There’s no risk of fire because there’s no flame; the ceramic crock warms the candle to melt the wax. I’ve used several of these in different places throughout the house, so as you walk through you get different fragrances.” −Linda C. Hardt, Homelynx Home Loans, Fort Myers, Fla.

    “I use an odor eliminator called PureAyre that smells like mint. The product can be ‘injected’ into furniture or carpets. It can also be sprayed into the air. When buyers come into a home, many are turned off by the smell of air fresheners or candles. Smart buyers know these are old tricks used to cover up smells, not eliminate them.” −Carol Smith, Creative Home Stagers, Charlotte, N.C.

    “Put a beer in the oven on low and it will smell like you’re baking fresh bread.” −Elizabeth Lord, Carolina Farms & Estates, York, S.C.

    “When you introduce any pleasant smelling items to a home, try to stick to basic scents such as vanilla, apple, cinnamon, and lemon. In small doses, these often appeal to the most buyers. A small reed diffuser in a bathroom can keep a clean smell, while not overwhelming the space.” −Kellie Frooninckx, Virtual Enriching Homes, Phoenix

    “Heat up some water and throw fresh cinnamon into it. Turn it off just before the buyers come. They’ll think that you baked cookies for them.” −April M. Newland, Newland Real Estate, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

    “If the sellers have a basement they may need to get a dehumidifier. Basements are in the ground, a damp environment by nature. So many times we open the basement door and get smacked with a musty odor. Bye-bye good offer.” −Colette O’Mara, Weichert, REALTORS®, North Syracuse, N.Y.

    Good Smells, Bad Smells

    How does your listing smell? It might be worth an extra sniff because buyers certainly will take notice.

    Sensory research shows that the smell of a home can affect a person’s mood, according to Terry Molnar, executive director of The Sense of Smell Institute, a New York–based organization that focuses on the importance of smell to human psychology, behavior, and quality of life.

    A light floral fragrance can put people in a more pleasant mood, while citrus scents, such as lemon and grapefruit, tend to have an energizing effect, he says. “Vanilla is one scent that’s universal around the globe,” Molnar says. “People find it comforting and relaxing.”

    But be careful: When you add smells to a home, it can be viewed as an attempt to cover up a bad odor. And if that’s the intent, it can make the problem worse.

    So what if you do need to get rid of a bad smell? Here are some ideas from staging professionals:

    – Take the trash out. It’s simple, but it can make a big difference. When the home is being shown, advise sellers to empty the garbage often.

    – Snuff out the smoke. Encourage sellers to eliminate all smoking inside and even outside, particularly when the doors or windows are open. An ionizer can help remove smoke smells.

    – Watch the cooking. The smell of lamb, broccoli, garlic, fish, and eggs can stick around long after the food has been eaten.

    – Wash Fido. Pets can be a big source of smells. Limit the pet to an outdoor area or a certain room in the house that can be regularly cleaned, says staging professional Kellie Frooninckx, owner of Virtual Enriching Homes in Phoenix. Also, clean the pet’s bedding regularly.


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