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Mmm, Your Hou​se Smells -- Saleable!

May 17, 2007
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Looking to sell your home? All you hear these days in the news and from friends is how bad the housing market is, and for good reason. There are too many existing houses on the market, builders have had to get more aggressive in selling new homes, interest rates and gas prices are up ... these are not ideal conditions.

Selling a home is not the easiest thing to do. It can be an emotional roller coaster as it's usually our largest asset, and most of us only have the opportunity to do it a few times in our lives. Although a professional real estate agency can help, you still play the primary role in making your home as "saleable" as you can.

Of course, all of us know that where you live, offering a competitive price, and having curb appeal all are critical factors in whether potential buyers want to stop and take a closer look. However, most buyers look at dozens and dozens of homes before they choose one to buy. So, how can you help make your home stand out and be more memorable after a long day of house hunting?

While getting buyers to your home is a critical step in the process, ensuring you make a lasting impression after they leave your house is what gets buyers to ultimately purchase your home. How do you do that? Just follow your nose.

Scents have a very strong memory trigger for people. "It's a byproduct of how we're wired," according to John Columbo, professor of cognitive psychology at Kansas University. "The portion of the brain that discerns smells is located directly behind the nose, so there's almost a direct path from the air to our brains."

"Using scent as a marketing tool to sell your home is based in the emerging field referred to as 'scentmosphere,' " explains Rick Ruffolo, senior vice president of brand, marketing and innovation at Yankee Candle Company.

"Scentmosphere recognizes the way a home, a building or a room smells has an immediate and lasting impact on how people perceive the location.

"Besides being hardwired to the brain -- our feelings about different scents are related to past experiences," Ruffolo adds. "For example, if your mom used to bake vanilla cupcakes because she knew you loved them, then every time you smell a vanilla cupcake, it's likely to be associated with fond memories of home, family and being loved."

Makes Scents
Roma Papania, a top-performing Realtor in Ohio, shares that "being able to picture yourself and your family in the new home is critical to the purchase decision ... and scents can play a key role in creating the right atmosphere."

Scent experiences make an impact with potential home buyers, who tend to make the ultimate decision based on emotions -- and if the scents in your home make them feel good, the more likely they are to want to buy it. It's why in the past real estate agents would suggest baking cookies.

Since that can be impractical before every showing, Ruffolo suggests that candles and home fragrance products are a more convenient way to accomplish the same effect: "If you or your agent are going to be there during the showing or open house, lighting a few scented candles in the kitchen and living areas will provide both great fragrance and the warm ambiance of candlelight. After all -- everything looks better in candlelight."

If you won't be in the home, Ruffolo recommends, "Use home fragrance products. They can be easily placed in most rooms in your home, and can be a subtle way to differentiate your home from the others in the market."

But what fragrances should you pick?

"While there are no absolute rules," says Ruffolo, "we generally recommend familiar, welcoming food and spice scents for the kitchen and living areas that are seasonally appropriate, like French Vanilla, Home Sweet Home, Farm House Apple or Pumpkin Pie."

This column was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.

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