Study Reveals the Home Scents That Help You Sell

February 19, 2013

Real estate professionals have long paid attention to the smell of a home, making sure the scent is pleasing to buyers to hopefully bring about a quicker sale. But new research suggests that some of the common scents real estate professionals may reach for in prepping a home for sale can actually turn off home buyers. 

Some of the worst scents for real estate open houses: Potpourri, chocolate-chip cookies, gourmet foods, and other baked goods, according to the study. 

On the other hand, some of the best smells: Lemon, green tea, cedar, pine, basil, and vanilla. 

Researchers studied 402 people in a home decor store in Switzerland to find which scents were the most pleasing to customers. Shoppers spent nearly 32 percent more when the store had a simple orange scent over a more complex scent of orange, basil, and green tea—all combined. 

Researchers have applied the findings to help provide insight into the smell of homes during open houses.

Researcher Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, says that complex scents, like baked goods, can be a distraction to potential home buyers because they’ll subconsciously dedicate time to try to figure out what the scent is. But at a real estate open house, you want a potential buyer not to be distracted by processing a smell. “They are there to process whether this is a place they want to live,” says Spangenberg. 

Instead simple scents — like pine, lemon, and cedar — are easier to process and less distracting, Sprangenberg says. 

Source: “Using Smell to Make a Sale,” The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 14, 2013)

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