A Sense to Sell: the Role of Smell in Home Staging Success

By: Eric Badgely

Home staging addresses and refines the numerous sensory impacts a home will have on potential buyers. One important sense, that is sometimes overlooked, is that of smell. Smell, triggers memory which triggers emotion. Essentially, you want the smell to sell your home. Aim to trigger positive emotions through smell and eliminate the potential to trigger any negative emotions.

Have you ever walked into a home and felt turned off by a smell you can't put your finger on? The smell may not even be so bad, but it is definitely distinct. A good place to start before adding any new smells in your home staging adventure, is to neutralize already existing smells. A distinct smell may be good for you, but a more neutral smell is good for the masses. It is a good precaution to neutralize the smells in your home, even if you think your home smells fine. Chances are there is a distinct smell to your home, which could be a turn-off to others.

To start neutralizing the odors in your home:

- Have your carpets professionally cleaned, or at the very least clean them with a product that contains a neutralizer.

- If you are not going for a professional clean make sure to focus on any stains yourself. Old pet stains could still be emmitting odor. Eliminate what you can.

- Have all drapes in your home cleaned.

- Wash all bed linens and blankets. With all your cleaning, use non-allergenic products if at all possible.

- If you have pets, try to have them out of the house prior to a viewing. Likewise if you have cats, remove the cat litter from the premises and if there is any other pet paraphernalia such as toys or blankets, remove them as well.

- This may seem obvious, but remove all garbage from the house before showing your home.

- Stinky shoes belonging to you or your children should be stored away in an air tight container.

- Vinegar is a great cleaning agent and combats smell without being toxic or commonly allergenic. Use vinegar (1/2 cup to one gallon on hot water) to clean floors, countertops and bathrooms.

- Make sure there is no dirty laundry. Keep up with the wash and again try to use neutral smelling and natural products.

- If there are any smokers in the house keep them (or at least their smoking!) outside in the weeks, or even months prior to your viewings. The smell of cigarettes definitely does not fall into the "neutral smells" category.

Once you have done all the grunt work and your home smells neutral as a puff of scentlessness, you can then consider adding some natural, inoffensive aromas. Citrus scents are nice and refreshing. Try running a grapefruit or orange skin through your garbage disposal just before showing your home. Essential oils are a wise choice. Look for products with lavender, tea-tree, eucalyptus, pine and sage. These are cleansing, calming and rejuvenating scents that will evoke pleasing emotions for most viewers. There are great room sprays you can find with all-natural ingredients. Test them before your showings. You don't want anything too pungent. Once you have eliminated the bad and the distinct odors, a hint of something clean and refreshing is all you'll need.

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