How many times have you heard that you need to bake some bread or chocolate chip cookies when you’re having an open house? Or to have potpourri simmering in the kitchen when prospective homebuyers drop by to tour your home? And that having something yummy baking or simmering in the kitchen invites buyers to take a keen interest in your home?
Oh, they’re taking a keen interest alright. But not in your home. It turns out that the aromas of potpourri, gourmet foods, chocolate chip cookies and other baked goods could actually hinder the sale of your home! Instead of taking the time to determine if your home is a place where they want to plant roots, prospective homebuyers will take the time to enjoy that delicious aroma that’s permeating throughout the house.
Recent research indicates that chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven is one of the worst scents to have when someone is deciding whether to buy your home. According to Eric Spangenberg, who is one of the authors of the study and who is the dean of the college of business at Washington State University, “complex scents, even if they're pleasant, can be a distraction because some people subconsciously dedicate time and energy to figuring out what the aroma is. At open houses, they are not there to process the smells. They are there to process whether this is a place they want to live.”
If the Smell of Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies Doesn’t Work, What Will?
Researchers sampled shoppers in a home decor store in Switzerland to find out which scents their customers liked most as they shopped. They found that certain simple scents helped shoppers to spend more money — up to 32% more. These scents can also help when prospective buyers are touring your home. “Simple scents — such as pine, lemon, cedar, and vanilla — can be easier for buyers to process and are less distracting,” Prof. Spangenberg says.
Prof. Spangenberg and his co-authors found that when the store was scented with a simple orange scent, shoppers on average will spend 31.8% more than when it was scented with a complex blend of orange, basil and green tea. “The same principles apply to open houses,” Prof. Spangenberg says, “because in both cases, the aromas may affect cognitive functions in the same areas of the brain involved in decision-making.”
However, “scents need to be congruent with the home,” says Prof. Spangenberg. “A cedar smell might work with a mountain home, but it could seem out of place at a beach house. You need to think, 'What scent will buyers associate with this environment?' It must be simple and positive and congruent."
The best scents to use during an open house? Lemon, green tea, basil, cedar, pine, and vanila.
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