6 Steps to Use Scent to Improve Your Home’s Appeal to Buyers

Smell is one of the senses potential buyers (not to mention friends and family) react to and remember most about a home. Because the olfactory system is close to the brain’s memory and emotional centers, aromas can trigger strong feelings the moment they hit us—and influence our decision-making. That makes scent an important factor to consider when selling your home. — by Amy Nebens

Scent works best as a backdrop against which everything plays,” explains Caroline Fabrigas, CEO of Scent Marketing Inc., a scent and sensory marketing firm based in New York. “It should be subtly diffused, not obvious or overt.

These six steps will help you use aroma to your advantage.

1. CLEAN HOUSE

People often become nose blind to odors in their own homes, but chances are yours has lingering smells that newcomers will notice. It could be garlic from last night’s cooking, pet odors, or even potent potpourri. Offset any potentially offensive smells by deep cleaning your home—linens, carpets, floors, kitchen, furniture—with lightly scented or unscented cleaners. (Avoid bleach and ammonia.) Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and furniture to absorb odors. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then vacuum it up. (You can sprinkle it in the kitchen trash can, too.)

2. USE A CRISP, FRESH FRAGRANCE

Studies show that some of the most agreeable aromas in a home are orange, lemon, and grapefruit. Comforting, inviting scents like vanilla, apple, and cinnamon are also appealing.

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Research suggests that complex combinations of scents (orange-basil-green-tea or ginger- cinnamon-nutmeg, for instance) can backfire even if they’re pleasant because people find them distracting. Buyers focus on identifying the aromas, which keeps them from thinking clearly or making decisions easily. Instead, stick with a single scent throughout your home.

4. PICK A SCENT THAT SUITS YOUR HOME

Pine or cedar will reinforce the ambience of a rustic stone-and-wood home in a forested area or a mountain setting but will seem out of place in a beachfront home. Another approach: Let the season dictate the scent.

5. AVOID FLORALS

They are very personal and can be polarizing. What one person finds pleasing might be overpowering or cloying to another.

6. INVEST IN A MIST DIFFUSER

A variety of aromatherapy home products are available, including candles, reed diffusers, and oil warmers. But “for home selling, the scent should be easy to control and consistent to set the stage,” notes Fabrigas. So, rather than one candle in the bedroom and a reed diffuser in the bathroom, she prefers a mist diffuser with an essential oil. Three models she recommends are the Zaq Paradise($70); the URPower Essential Oil Diffuser, which doubles as a humidifier ($26); and the Stadler Form JASMINE Aroma Diffuser ($60). Her picks for essential oils include Young Living Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil ($32/5ml), dōTERRA Citrus Limon ($13/15ml), and Enfleurage Vanilla Absolute($57/5ml).

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 12.38.05 PM.png