The best smell for your home

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If you’re selling your home, you’ll have a bunch of people (wisely) advising you to make sure it smells nice for inspections and viewings to help your chances of landing a sale.

Eric Spangenberg from Washington State University conducted a study out of Switzerland back in 2010 to determine the most “commercially inspiring odours” – that is, what smells make a person feel compelled to make a transaction (or at the least, feel more comfortable about it).

They tested a bevy of smells with Swiss shoppers and found that simple rules. Sales went up and people were more in the mood to buy when a single, uncomplicated odour was in the air, versus multiple or complex whiffs. Spangenberg says this is because the more complicated the scent, the more our brains focus on processing it, rather than processing what’s around us (including stuff to buy or explore).

In a series of separate experiments, the researchers had students solve world problems in competing scent conditions. The students solved more problems in less time when the simple scent was in the air, than with the complicated one or no scent at all. “Most people are processing it at an unconscious level, but it is impacting them – the important thing from the retailer’s perspective and the marketer’s perspective is that a pleasant scent isn’t necessarily an effective scent,” he said. The best scent when selling is clean, fresh air, in other words no overt smell.

Spangenberg advises against the following:

Artificial smells such as sprays or plug ins.

They smell as though they are masking something (they probably are).

A scented candle, incense or pot pourri.

Scent is such a personal thing. You might think the incense sticks you bought in Bali or the expensive candle that you received for Christmas are helping the sale of your property but others may not share your taste or worse might have an allergic reaction to it.

Baking or brewing coffee.

Staging has moved on and most people have heard the trick of cookie dough, fresh bread baking or coffee brewing, but I think it’s trying too hard.

Most buyers are wise to these tricks and might see it as just that – a trick.

So smells can help sell your house, but just don’t go nuts with the incense, or it might backfire.

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