Staging Tip #1 - Follow Your Nose

Real Estate Agent with The Cascade Team

How does your home smell?  Inviting?  Repelling?  Nuetral?  This is so much more important than you realize!  Scent is powerfully linked to memory and mood.  You want people to be in a good mood when they tour your house, and you want them to remember it!

Last weekend, I showed many, many houses, but one in particular stands out for HOW BAD IT SMELLED! It was so bad my clients and I didn't even go through the whole house!  The musty smell wasn't just annoying, it was a sign that the house might have a serious problem.

On the other hand, I previewed a townhouse recently that smelled amazingly good!  It was wonderful!  I didn't want to leave.  I took my time touring it, and I remember it for all the right reasons.

The scent of your home doesn't show up online, but it speaks volumes to the people who come through the door.  Here are some things you can do:

  1. Deal with the source of the smell!  If there is something causing that smell, (animal waste, cigarette smoke, a diaper pail, mold, mildew, or just your garbage can) get rid of it!  Don't just try to cover it up!
  2. Use cleaners that have a nice scent.  A strong smell of ammonia for example, is not very pleasant!
  3. Plug-in air fresheners are inexpensive and can be wonderful. In fact, you can often find good air fresheners at the the dollar store.  (I don't recommend scented candles or incense!  No fire hazards please!)  Just make sure you smell it before you buy it! 
  4. The smell of fresh paint is not particulary nice.  Try to paint several days before listing if at all possible.
  5. Bake!  Not only does it make the house smell great, but a plate of cookies is a nice touch for an open house.  Slice and bake dough works great.
  6. Try this simple trick.  Pour a bit of vanilla into a saucer and pop it in the microwave for a minute.  It makes the house smell terrific!
  7. Keep in mind that you may not really notice the smells in your home.  Ask a your agent, or a friend you trust to tell you if there are any lingering smells  that you might have missed.
  8. Don't overdo it!  Some people are very sensitive to smells, and smells that are too strong can make people wonder what you are trying to hide!


First impressions are vital when selling your home and how it smells leaves a lasting impression!   Keep reading my blog for more tips on selling your home!


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Diana Young
Staging Seattle, King & Snohomish Counties - Edmonds, WA

Hi Erika,  You are so right that potential buyers will remember the smell or a house, for good or bad!  As a home stager, I have previewed several homes for sale with a really bad odor.  Several times the culprit has been a deceased rodent (usually a rat) that got in the crawl space and couldn't get out.  Once the animal is removed the smell disappears.  Another common "bad smell" in occupied homes is the dirty laundry and sheets that need to be washed, especially in rooms of teenagers. 

Feb 13, 2009 02:37 PM #1
Lara O'Keefe
North Texas Home Finders - McKinney, TX

Erika, scent is a huge selling point. People buy on all 5 senses. This is a great reminder. I'm off to get a Plug In refill.

Feb 14, 2009 08:56 AM #2
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

The worst house I have come across smelled of dog urine as soon as you opened the door. I later found dog droppings under the dining table. I usually recommend that clients use natural scents created by Cinnamon sticks or vanilla in the microwave or Cinnamon and brown sugar in a dish of water sitting in a low oven temp. I had one client tell me she was so allergic to commercial air fresheners that she ended up in emergency in anaphalactic shock! Since different scents mean different things to buyers, I prefer the house to be just clean if possible.

Feb 15, 2009 06:55 AM #3
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

When encountering pet odors in a home use Pure Ayre or Nature's Miracle -- both available at pet stores.  These are smells that can't be covered up and dealt with correctly.  We also recommend using an ozone machine.  All these remedies actually contain powerful enzymes break apart the molecular bonds of odor-causing compounds to eliminate both odors and harmful contaminants. Smells are permanently removed when the molecular bonds are broken  

We also recommend no VOC paints which have hardly any smell and no harmful air pollutants.

Feb 15, 2009 07:36 AM #4
jane browne
exit realty advantage - Pensacola, FL

I've never heard the idea about using vanilla in the microwave.  It works great! Thanks for the tip.

Feb 16, 2009 04:58 AM #5
Chrissie Sutherland
Ready Set Stage - Greensboro, NC

I just did a staging seminar today and touch several times on this subject.  It's a sensitive subject, but really can make or break a sale.  Great post.  Thanks for sharing.

Feb 21, 2009 09:43 AM #6
Corey & Erika Kahler
The Cascade Team - Kirkland, WA

Thanks everyone!

Diana - great point!  I think that's a fairly common occurence!

Lara - I need refills myself!

Janice - Wow! Great pointer!  I'm going to remember that!

Margaret - Great information!

Jane - My Mom did that when I was a kid and our house was on the market.  I never forgot it!

Chrissie - Sounds like your seminars are very helpful and practical!



Mar 08, 2009 10:49 AM #7
Teresa K. Nelson
Windermere Real Estate/HLC - Woodinville, WA

Erika, I love houses that smell as good as they look!

I was almost scared to open this Blog for fear that you had been in one of my listings!!!! LOL

Mar 08, 2009 11:18 AM #8
Corey & Erika Kahler
The Cascade Team - Kirkland, WA

Teresa - Thank you!  You gave me a great laugh! -Erika

Mar 08, 2009 01:47 PM #9
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