House for Smell: the Powers of Odors in the Real Estate Business

by : Ester Rebecca Del Fierro

Article Written and Prepared by: Neoli Marcos

Have you smelled your house lately?

If it's a perfume you're buying, then there's certainly good sense in smelling it first. But if it's a house, what then?

Obviously, people usually buy houses because they look great, seems comfortable, is fully-furnished and well-taken care of, lies in a good safe neighborhood, is close to the workplace, has a good seaside view, etcetera, etcetera, among many other factors. But, curiously enough, smell is not one of them.

Indeed, people often take smells for granted. This is because we register the world mostly through our sense of sight, unlike animals which predominantly rely on their olfactory sense for survival (hunting food, and detecting enemies and prey). For us humans, we only notice smells when they're offensive, but even then, there's the possibility of us growing accustomed to them that we forget they're there in the first place.

This is what you should watch out for when you're selling your house. Your house might pass any discriminating homebuyer's checklist in flying colors. You've repainted the walls in a soothing cream brown, you've had the kitchen floorboards polished, installed additional security system, and even threw in new iron-wrought chairs for the garden. But if you really want to make a good impression; a subtle but effective one, then aim at your prospective buyers' noses.

Get rid of those little smelly details of your house that you might not be aware of anymore, but would definitely be an assault to visitors. Pet odors and cigarette smoke are the immediate culprits. But don't just rest your faith on a handy deodorizing spray can, because they just mask odors and don't address the problem. Needless to say, you'd have to keep the dog out for the meantime that your house is up for sale, and well, as for you, you'll have to transfer your ashtray outside as well.

Smell, Smell, Go Away.

And then, really, as in really clean up. Wash carpets, curtains, rags, any fabric that stores odors.

Now, for the fun part. Bake bread with cinnamon, or lasagna, or anything that smells good and worry-free. Bring out those essential oils or light up aromatic candles, for a more natural pleasant smelling atmosphere, not synthetically induced by any spray can. Lavender oil, for instance, has a positive calming, effect.

Smells trigger memories and coax emotions in us. This is because our brain's limbic system which stores our memories is also the one responsible for tagging a particular odor received by the chemo receptors.

Which is why when we're giving house tours to visitors, we want them to remember the house even long after they've left the premises. And we want them to remember in a good way. So, okay, pretty flowers standing at attention in a vase might not exactly be your house's strongest selling point, but they can put your visitors in a buying mood and really make a difference.