Home Staging Austin – The Five Senses to Sell – Scents that Sell


The sense of smell has the strongest emotional connection point of all our senses.  There are many scents that trigger an emotional response for me, one in particular is the smell of certain garages. It takes me back to playing at my great grandfathers’ house as a little girl.  For sure apple pie and crisp fall air also top the list but somehow the strange mixture of grass clippings and gasoline inside a closed garage seem to instantly bring me to the years I admired his vintage convertible and rolled down a giant hill in his yard with my cousins.

How do smells trigger such strong emotions.  It is most likely because of our brain anatomy. Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb which has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory:  the amygdala and hippocampus.  None of our other senses pass through these brain areas which seems to point to why smells are so powerful in inducing feelings.

So, what does all of this have to do with staging a home to sell?  Buyers don’t buy houses, they buy a home.  They need to see themselves living in the space.  They need to feel emotionally connected.  The smells inside the home makes a huge impact on whether or not a prospect becomes a buyer.  Every home smells like something.  Even newly constructed homes smell “brand new.”  I purchased a new home two years ago.  I saw a lot of houses in a short period of time.  I will have to admit, if I walked into a home that had a strong odor, I just couldn’t visualize myself living there.  Even if the home was gorgeous and in the right location.  It just wasn’t for me.  I smelled strong cooking odors, pleasant air fresheners, musty fabrics and floral soaps and perfumes.  All of these scents made me feel the house was “lived in” even if it was impeccably clean and well maintained.  Turns out, I really like the “brand new” smell of saw dust and recently laid flooring because it smells “neutral.”  It elicits a feeling that my family can make our mark here.  We are the ones that can make this house a “home.”

Neutralizing the air in a home is an essential step in staging a home to sell.  It doesn’t mean spraying the entire house with a cleaning product that claims to neutralize odors.  It means eliminating all of the things in the home that could be causing a strong smell.

  • Have your home professionally deep cleaned using natural products with light scents
  • Wash all bedding
  • Dry clean or replace throw pillow covers
  • Clean carpets (or replace them if you are unable to remove pet odors/stains)
  • Remove or dry clean window drapery
  • Temporarily avoid cooking dishes with strong odors (fish, garlic, etc.)
  • Move shoes on a shelf in the garage
  • Take out the trash regularly (including cat litter)

If you feel your home needs additional neutralizing after following the tips above, consider adding single note scent.  After years of research on smells in relation to buying behavior, Eric Spangenberg of Washington State University has found that complex scents are confusing to the brain.  He suggests going with a simple scent.

A few options are:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus Scents
    • Orange
    • Lemon
    • Grapefruit
  • Basil
  • Vanilla
  • Cedar

You can easily make these scents at home as there are many DIY essential oil room spray methods available.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Home Staging Austin – The Five Senses to Sell



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Shannon Dugan in Austin, TX on Houzz