Can You S(m)ell this House?

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Chances are, when you were starting out in real estate, someone gave you the following advice:home smell pie

Throw a bunch of cookie dough in the oven to make the house smell delicious (just make sure it doesn’t burn).

And you may have even done just that. Or perhaps you bought potpourri or a candle that smells like baked goods, under the impression that ‘cozy’ smells sell.

Well a new study has emerged that is turning this real estate trick of the trade on its head. The Wall Street Journal recently published “Using Smell to Make a Sale,” an article that profiles a Washington State University study that found that complex odors, liked baked treats or seasonal medleys, may actually deter a sale.

The study found that complicated scents can distract shoppers; they begin to focus on the smell and its origin, rather than the purchase at hand. In the study, consumers were discovered to spend 31.8% more in a home décor store when it was flavored with a simple orange scent than when it was scented with a more complex blend of orange, basil and green tea.

Professor Spangenburg, one of the authors of the study, posits that the same principles can be applied to open house scenting because aromas seem to affect cognitive functions in the areas of the brain involved in decision-making. He theorizes that your ideal scent will “be simple and positive and congruent.” Congruent means that the scent matches up with your listing’s environs.

With that in mind, we’ve created a mini list of one-note scents that might match up to your current listings. Feel free to use at will. Just remember to keep it natural; synthetic scents can be overwhelming.

If you’re showing a mountain cabin, freshen up with some cedar branches.
Inviting buyers to view a garden home? Lavender or rose might be the way to go.
Are you listing an Italian-style villa? Advise buyers to buy basil-scented natural cleaning products.
When hosting an open house by the beach, try eucalyptus or coconut depending on the region.
And of course, if you’re listing a gingerbread house, vanilla is the way to go! (Tee hee, we just couldn’t help ourselves.)

What do you think? Do you have a tried-and-true scent you use for open houses or recommend to buyers? We know apple pie certainly makes us feel at home!

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