Do Your Buyers Hear What You Hear?

Home Stager

Do you hear what I hear?  Buying decisions are emotional.  Marketers have studied this for years and one thing we know for sure, if we want to stimulate the buying response, we need to tap into buyers' EMOTIONS.  


Home sellers can tap into the emotions of their prospects, simply by employing a little psychology and appealing to the 5 senses. In Love at First Sight I shared how to trigger the buying response by appealing to buyers' sense of sight.  EVERYTHING a buyer sees AND EVERYWHERE a buyer looks in your home has the potential to stimulate a positive [or negative] emotion. In Common Scents I discussed how the way a house smells can either attract or repel your home buying prospects. Today I will share how to engage buyers' sense of hearing.

So what does your house sound like? If its something you've never thought much about, then now is a really good time to consider - what will your buyers hear [and possibly be distracted by] when they enter your home? 

Is your home peaceful and tranquil? If you live on a quiet country road where all you can hear are the birds singing off in the distance - then do what you can to maximize this wonderful selling feature.  Avoid playing loud or distracting music and keep the TV off while your house is being shown.  

Do you live on a busy street with cars and trucks whizzing by at all hours?  Do you live near railroad tracks or an airport? Even though you might have grown accustomed to it, traffic noise can be a huge turn off to potential buyers. Your Realtor might even suggest pricing your house lower to reflect this negative feature. Even if your house is priced appropriately, there's still more you can do to overcome this obstacle. Jeannette Fisher, author of the book Design Psychology for Redesign and Home Staging offers some suggestions..... 

You can try masking the street noise or the sound of your neighbor's barking dog by introducing other sounds, always taking into consideration your selling season. Water falls and oscillating fans contribute a welcome feeling of coolness on a hot summer day, while crackling fires add a feeling of warmth and relaxation when it's cold. And a bubbling water fountain or soft wind chimes can offer the feeling of peace and tranquility in any season. 

Playing music can also help to mask the unappealing noise around you, but be sure you consider your target buyer's taste when making your selection. Playing soft background music can relax and lift the spirits of your prospects as they hum along to a familiar tune. If you have a spa in your house, you may want to consider playing a CD of the sounds of the rainforest to convey the feeling of a luxurious tropical escape.  But don't get carried away.  Avoid playing loud music which can be jarring and too much of a distraction. 

In my next post I will be discussing ways to engage the sense of touch.....


Posted by




Karen Bernetti is a Real Estate Stager, Former Realtor®, Author, Speaker, and Owner of Staging4Smooth Transitions - specializing in assisting seniors with their downsize moves and offering Home2Home Transitions seminars. Karen is also the Social Media Manager and Administrative Coordinator for Prudential CT Realty, in Madison, CT and Co-creator of the Ready2Sellin30Days System - an interactive multi-media program teaching do-it-yourself homeowners EVERYHTING they need to know about preparing a home for sale. Stay up to date on the latest staging and home decor trends by visiting Karen & Ann's Home Sale Success Blog.  


Comments (65)

Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
Irvine Realtor®

I know my clients age, and play background music for them when they visit me in my office.  I have all the hits from the 1910's to the 50's, and try to play music from when they were a teenager.  We'll be talking, and then one of them will suddenly stop, raise their head, turn around to their spouse, and say "do you remember when we first heard that song?".  It creates a comfortable environment.

Mar 18, 2012 03:11 AM
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Great tips Karen! Off to read the blogs in the links you included, thanks!

Mar 18, 2012 03:57 AM
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta

It's so true that appealing to the sense can evoke a "homey" feel and help a buyer emotionally attach to a home. Great post!

Mar 18, 2012 04:32 AM
Michelle Hatmaker
Real Living - The Hatmaker Group - Galveston, TX
Houston Galveston Real Estate

It's amazing how the "love at first sight" can quickly dissipate to "Ewwww...what's that smell???"  I recently had that exact situation.  Thank goodness the other agent left feedback that I was able to forward to the client.  As it turned out, the lady of the house had cooked a "tart" that was supposed to be an air freshener. It ended up smelling like "cat!"  Totally turned off the potential buyers.  Live and learn!  Keep it simple and fresh...and, if you're going to try a new fragrance, don't try it right before the next showing.


The question is...what do you do about tenants that think it's okay to smoke a little "happy weed" right before a showing?!  I have an agent friend that's been dealing with that little issue....The owner of the property is the father, the son the tenant, and the home is NOT selling....  go figure!

Mar 18, 2012 04:50 AM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Whatever works and is not a distraction. Whether it be sound or smell or touch. Have been in homes where the scent is so strong it is almost obnoxious.

Mar 18, 2012 05:47 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

This is a subject worth more thought. Thinking of my own reactions - a fountain or wind chimes would sound pleasant - music would either be an annoyance or a distraction. 

And a fan - Let me out of here!!

Mar 18, 2012 06:06 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I think that is so true.  But I took my client into a staged home today and the first thing she did was turn off the music playing the back ground.

Mar 18, 2012 06:40 AM
Monique Ting
INET Realty Honolulu, HI - Honolulu, HI
Your agent under the sun

Wonderful post! All too often we dismiss the sense of hearing as it doesn't sound to be tangible... but as you say, it is all part of the home experience and should not be neglected!

Mar 18, 2012 06:58 AM
Allen Deaver
Sky Realty - Kyle, TX
Allen Deaver

Great advice Karen. I recently sold a home were my clients (the sellers) would put some easy listening music on before a showing. The home was already beautiful but that added to the appeal to the home.

Mar 18, 2012 08:19 AM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Karen, you are so right.  It all comes down to buyer's emtional decision to buy and sounds are important also.

Mar 18, 2012 09:52 AM
Jennifer Manchester
Suburban Properties of Charlotte, LLC - Mint Hill, NC
GRI, ePRO, ASP - Broker/Home Stager

Great info, I look forward to the rest of the series.

Mar 18, 2012 11:23 AM
Wayne Jackson
Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109 - Hayden, ID
North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake

Hi Karen, Thanks for the post, good stuff to know. Question: On a website with full screen high res photos of high end homes is it better to have nice background music or no music? I have been told both ways, but I am leaning toward music.

Mar 18, 2012 01:00 PM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

buyers hear what they want to hear!! They never hear the important details and only remember the facts that suit their postion!!! This is a know fact of life!!


Paddy Deighan

Mar 18, 2012 06:31 PM
Ellen Kippel
Weichert Realtors - Suffern, NY
Licensed NY and NJ realtor 914-588-2365

Thanks for these tips.  I like the idea of appealing to buyers on all their senses - through their eyes, noses, ears, and sense of touch.  I look forward to your ideas about appealing to their sense of touch.  Have a great day!  It's gorgeous here in Rockland County, NY and I am currently enjoying listening to robins singing and other birds chirping, too.  My windows are open and so is the door to my deck, as I read and write my comments on AR while soothing my other senses.  I think I smell Spring, too!

Mar 18, 2012 11:31 PM
Jim Miner
Miner Noh & Associates - Phoenix, AZ
Loan Modfication & Short Sale Specialist

Oh, that neighbor dog who is let outside every morning at 5:30am and then begins to bark until he is let back into the house.  Interesting, most people do not visit a home at 5:30 in the morning.


Mar 19, 2012 12:59 AM
Joey Fenwick
Self-Employed, 1st Time & move up buyers,FHA, VA conventiona - Phoenix, AZ
Fenwick Team FHA, VA & Jumbo Loans, Phoenix, Scott

One of the biggest "drawbacks" regarding smell, are the smells of cats or dogs in the home.  I love my dogs and never realized they left a smell in the house after we returned from a trip. It's not BAD but is noticeable until a few hours have passed and your nose gets "used to it". Use Febreze just before showing, vacuum carpets too.  A "plug in" type of odorizer will help make the atmosphere smell better too.

 Cat boxes, even if outside, can make a backyard patio a very uncomfortable place to sit so be sure to clean out the box regularly or move it to some other part of yard and definitely NOT in the house, if at all possible. Pick up the cat food from where they were eating will keep them out of that room while showing the house. Vacuum before showing so that the cat hair is picked up as many people have cat allergies. Vacuuming frequentley will help them not "sneeze" while looking at their house.

Mar 19, 2012 01:21 AM
Jack Snyder
Loan Originator in Orange County for Nations Direct Mortgage, LLC, NMLS #109738 - Equal Housing Lender - San Clemente, CA
Loan Officer, San Clemente, Orange County, CA.

I love your post Karen, I never considered the approach you've taken. Your catchphrases really capture the intent with Love at First Sight and Common Scents, I would like to take a crack at the next one, is it... Touch of Class?

Mar 19, 2012 02:25 AM
Karen Bernetti
Southington, CT

Oh my!  I've been out away and just came back to a very nice surprise.  Thank you to all of you for your thoughtful comments..... I have to head back out but will return later to read and respond.  Thanks again!!   

Mar 19, 2012 02:49 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

I made an appointment for my clients to see a home on Saturday morning. The owner had a client pull up right behind us. The owner didn't want to miss a chance to show her home, but she gave massages in her home and had a client coming by. When we entered the home, there was very relaxing music playing, The owner let us see the home and then led her client into her massage room. It really started the whole tour off on a good note, even if it was a unique situation.

I know smell plays a huge role in showing homes, but I had not thought much about sound. When I hear loud classical music playing in a vacant home, I always wonder if they are hiding some other noises, but when there is soothing music, I am less suspicious. I guess it is the same a with the overpowering air freshener.

Thanks for reminding us of the importance of sound.

Mar 20, 2012 12:04 AM
Pam Smits
Staging Fox Valley, LLC - Oshkosh, WI
Home Staging, Appleton, WI, Oshkosh, WI; Green Bay, WI

This is probably an area that quite often gets overlooked, but can be so powerful!  Thanks for helping  me increase my awareness in this area, it will help me be a better stager!

Mar 20, 2012 12:09 AM