// December 05, 2016

Smells That Sell: Scent and Real Estate

While the image of real estate agents baking cookies in order to make prospective buyers feel at home is now more cliche than reality, scent is still an important part of the home-buying experience.

As scent marketing and studies regarding human reactions to scent gain more mainstream attention, many professionals and organizations are looking to smell to boost their sales. Scents automatically trigger emotional responses in us, and so it can be a vital component of selling a home.

How smells affect our emotions

When you smell something, the odour receptors in your nose send the information straight to your amygdala, which is the part of your brain primarily associated with emotion, memory, and decision-making. It’s an evolutionary trait that acts as a chemical alert system, designed to spot dangerous and poisonous things instantly.

But in the post-foraging age of humanity, scents act as strong emotional triggers. That’s why scents like cookies can provoke intense memories of childhood, or why some people really enjoy the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils.

Your brain responds emotionally to scents before you have a chance to think - and so scents can be powerful ways to affect consumer behaviour.

Perceptions of luxury

A study conducted by Rucker et al. in 2012 found that temperature has a direct correlation to smell perception, and together they affect behaviour. If scents are “warm” and the ambient temperature is warm, people “experience less power (ie. control) [and] they automatically adopt power-compensatory behaviour, exhibited by greater value placed on luxury and high-status products that can serve to restore power.” Warm scents include things like vanilla, cedar, or cinnamon.

The reasoning behind this is simple: social density. Warmer scents and temperatures trick our brains into thinking there are more people in the area, which makes us feel like we have less control over our space. It’s directly related to our sense of safety. The result, interestingly, is a subconscious desire for status and power, in an effort to regain control over our space.

How scent can impact an open house

When a prospective buyer walks into your open house, the first thing they’ll notice - subconsciously or not - is how the house smells.

This can be a wonderful opportunity to use scent marketing tactics to make a house smell pleasantly of pine, cedar, or orange peel. These scents evoke feelings of warmth, comfort, and hominess that helps buyers imagine themselves in the space.

If the home is a “luxury” home, either by neighbourhood or by design, then looking at warmer temperatures and smells might increase a buyer’s likelihood of making an offer. If you’re selling a cozier, humbler house, then a cooler temperature may make small spaces feel less stuffy and more open and inviting.

Scent marketers agree - different situations call for different scents, because they evoke unique feelings and emotive reactions. As an agent or home stager, you should choose a scent that complements the space.

The problem that many agents find, though, is that previous owners leave behind unpleasant odours like pet dander, smoke, or strong cooking smells that can turn off buyers.

How to remedy unpleasant home odours

Strong smells can linger on remaining textiles and surfaces long after residents move out. Removing them can be incredibly difficult, save for a thorough scrub.

Hydroxyl generators remove scents from surfaces, even porous ones, quickly and efficiently. Machines create reactive OH- molecules that react whenever they come in contact with most compounds, save for carbon dioxide. This means that scent molecules that permeate a home can be removed by a chemical conversion reaction, without the need for a full wash.

We’ve seen some amazing results with Odorox machines in highly contaminated spaces. Hydroxyls leave behind a very faint scent of light freshness, a result of clean, decontaminated air.

Want to read more about how hydroxyls can be effective in removing real estate odours? Read more here!