This House Stinks...Literally.

Services for Real Estate Pros with Real Estate Pipeline, Inc.

Believe it or not, the human nose can detect and clarify about 10,000 smells.  That's right....10,000!  We know that the power of smell is one of the strongest senses we, as humans, posess.  And recent studies have shown that scent is the strongest of our 5 senses that is tied directly to memory. 

In my parent's house, for example, my mother always made fresh peach pies in the late summer.  To this day, I can smell a peach pie from a mile away and instantly Im transported to my mom's kitchen as a 7yr old boy in my swimsuit pacing around the table hoping to get a shot at sticking my finger into the peach filling while my mom wasn't looking.  (I got caught every time).

Retailers have been using smells to get people to buy their goods with thousands of scents for literally thousands of years.  Scents, as a whole, have a power of their own and, depending on the scent, can even have a profound effect on the very psychology of a person.

It is the same when showing a home!  Strong smells like cat oders (pet orders in general, really.  I just pick on cats because it is the most obvious example of a gross smell that everyone can relate to) or even cooking smells (burnt oil, grease, hard fish smells) can send buyers away faster than any screwed up floor plan or poor staging effort.  In fact, you can stage a home perfectly, and have the perfect floor plan, but if the house smells like 50 cats used it for a latrine, you may as well burn it down where it sits because it will probably never sell.

If you are showing a contemporary condo or loft in a hip, upscale urban setting where young singles and urbanistas are buying, you would want your clients to be highly attentive and excited.  Putting out scents of rosemary, peppermint or grapefruit will help them make decisions more quickly as these scents improve alertness and stimulation.

If you are showing an older home in the suburbs with numerous rooms and a ‘creative' floor plan, you may want them to feel more calm and relaxed.  Lavender is the perfect scent for this.  Mixed with citrus smells, you will have a calm, yet mentally alert client that can make calm, rational decisions.

Aside from those, here is a list of scents and their reactions to human behavior:

Chamomile - Calming and soothing; eases anger and anxiety.
Clary Sage - Relaxing; euphoric; eases anxiety, tension, and stress.
Eucalyptus - Fresh, cooling, and invigorating; promotes alertness.
Jasmine - Alleviates anxiety and depression.
Lavender - Calming.
Lemon - Refreshing and energizing; eases tension, heightens mental clarity.
Mandarin - Relaxing and calming; relieves insomnia.
Orange blossom - Relieves stress, anxiety and insomnia.
Peppermint - Refreshing and stimulating; increases alertness.
Rosemary - Promotes mental clarity and alertness.
Sandalwood - A warm, sensual aroma that creates seductive and euphoric moods.

This is just a small sample, obviously.  But, this sample includes the top scents used by retailers to stimulate buyers.  Since you are also assisting buyers, using similar techniques will help move properties faster and put your buyers in the ‘right frame of mind'.

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Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Clint - smells do evoke something within us. We all enjoy a good smell and the emotions that are tied to it ... weather it be a fresh baked pie ... or the scent of a candle.  It's true anywhere ... grocery stores, restaurants, etc. If it smells bad ... I want out!  If it smells good ... I tend to stick around longer. Great post with a wealth of information. Thanks!

Nov 03, 2009 01:30 AM #7
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Kathleen -- Thank you so much for the kind words...and, with regards to your comments...I agree! :-)

Nov 03, 2009 01:41 AM #8
Lisa Matykiewicz
United Brokers Group - Gilbert, AZ

I absolutely agree that smell matters. It is the first thing to greet your client and usually the last thing they remember.

Nov 03, 2009 01:51 AM #9
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Lisa -- And depending on the smell, they can actually recall what house they saw based on the smell of the home...

"You know, honey....the one that smelled like bass bait....with the spoiled milk smell in the laundry room..."

Nov 03, 2009 01:58 AM #10
June Tassillo
Owner/Broker RE/MAX Elite Realty - Franklin, NC
Let me help you with the next phase of your life!

Clint ~  I agree 100% the owners of the home often times can not smell what we can and I think its my duty to tell them.  At Open houses if you put some vanilla extract on a piece of tinfoil and put the open on low say 200 it will make the home smell so good.  I do suggest plug ins or something constant while its for sale. 

Nov 03, 2009 05:25 AM #11
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

June -- Completely agree!! My agent used to tell her sellers to buy Vanilla Fabreeze and soak the house in it.....whole house would smell like vanilla cake and frosting...YUM!

Nov 03, 2009 05:38 AM #12
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Clint - Great post on this topic.  I often explain to home sellers that our olfactory sense (smell) is most closely linked to our memory.  No one wants to be known as the "dog pee" house.

Nov 03, 2009 05:53 AM #13
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Jason -- Thanks, man. Much appreciated....LOL @ dog pee house. Ive been there....

Nov 03, 2009 05:57 AM #14
Diane Guercio
HomesJustForYou Team at RE/MAX Property Promotions - Fitchburg, MA

My broker was selling her home, and when I showed it she had put out a dish of sugar cookies (not homemade, I later found out) and the house smelled wonderfully like Christmas because of the strategically placed Sugar Cookie candles she had left burning.

Although, I am wondering if vaporizing a small amount of prozac into the air might have a similar effect, yet work even better.

Nov 03, 2009 06:26 AM #15
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Diane -- Sugar cookies are a great smell...smells like being a kid...Love em.

LMAO @ Prozac burst....that would work!

Nov 03, 2009 06:34 AM #16
Phoebe Underwood
John L. Scott - Westwood - Seattle, WA
She sells Seattle homes, you receive real results.

Please know that a strong artificial odor is just as much of a turn-off as actual stink-odors. 

Many buyer's know when a smell is masking an pet/smoke/stink odor and if there is not an "offensive" odor to begin with, an overwhelming artificial scent becomes offensive in and of itself.


Nov 03, 2009 07:00 AM #17
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Phoebe -- Oh, I agree...Im not saying to bury the house in scented pine trees or anything. :-) 


Nov 03, 2009 07:10 AM #18
Marcy Eastham
Town & Country Realty Corvallis Oregon - Corvallis, OR

This is a great post, Clint.  Last weekend I agreed to host an open house for a fellow broker, and the house smelled "funky" for lack of a better word.  I tried the Febreze treatment, but it just covered it up.  Turns out they had a fish dinner the night before.  Blech.

Nov 03, 2009 07:36 AM #19
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Marcy -- Thank you so much!! One of the worst smells out there. Why any seller would do that the day before they have an open

Nov 03, 2009 07:42 AM #20
Bozena Chorazewicz
Bozena Studio Interior Design - Los Angeles, CA

This is a great post, Clint.
Supposedly, in our brain the smell center is close to the memory center, no wonder we subconsciously associate smells with different memories from our life.
I prefer lavender scent, it has calming effect, especially in the private areas of the home (bedrooms, baths). Previous night's dinner will be definitely recognizable, because it concentrates in all porous materials, like the upholstery, drapery and such. There should be a guideline describing what the seller can and cannot have for dinner the night before the showing ;D

Nov 03, 2009 08:01 AM #21
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

Some properties can use the help thanks for the list.

Nov 03, 2009 03:30 PM #22
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Dog pee have ruined the best of homes and the homeowners aren't even aware until I point it out

Nov 03, 2009 08:56 PM #23
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Bozena -- Thank you so much! I agree about the planned menu for sellers. :-) By the way....add some citrus to your lavender. That way, they are calm...and mentally alert. :-)

Terry -- I think most of them can. ;-)

Fernando -- Yup...been there, my friend.

Nov 03, 2009 10:53 PM #24
Robin Taylor Roth
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices NJ Properties - South Plainfield, NJ

My mother still loves to tell the 40-year-old tale of "the house that wouldn't sell," which she undertook, because she could always find a buyer.

The problem with the house was, of course, the smell.  Mother could not track down the source, so called the Sellers (wintering in Floriday) who laughed uproariously, and explained that they were fermenting sauerkraut in tubs in the basement!

However much you like sauerkraut - and I do! - the smell of several dozen pounds of the stuff fermenting can overwhelm anyone.

So, Mother arranged to have the sauerkraut moved into storage, thoroughly aired out the house, and sold it very quickly.

Back in those days, REALTORS® didn't know about the positive effects that aromas can have, so making coffee or spreading around potpourri was uncommon.

Nov 04, 2009 09:46 AM #25
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Robin -- O M G!!! That had to be enough to knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.....UGH!

Nov 04, 2009 11:05 PM #26
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