When you’re trying to sell your home, there are a lot of psychological factors that matter, but you might overlook their importance. Scent is a big one.
If your home doesn’t smell good, and especially if it has some sort of detectable odor, you’re going to have a much harder time selling it.
There are short and long-term scents that may be affecting would-be buyers when they walk into your home. A short-term odor might be a lingering cooking smell. A long-term odor might come from carpets that have pet urine, for example.
The following are things to know about the role of scent when you’re trying to sell a house.
Why Scent Matters
There are quite a few reasons scent matters. We don’t even necessarily realize how much scent influences us psychologically every day. Even a slight bad odor can make buyers associate your home with being old or dirty. Scent is a powerful way to evoke emotions, both good and bad.
How Do You Know If Your Home Stinks?
It’s important to realize that you might not necessarily know your own home smells bad. You could be so used to whatever the smell is that you don’t notice it. It could be a transient smell or one that’s always underlying when people walk into your house.
Before you put your house on the market and also before you have any showings, try to have someone do a smell test.
If there’s no one to help you, walk outside for a few minutes and then come back in.
Find the Source
If you can, find the source of what might be making your home smell bad.
For example, it could be mold or wetness inside your walls or in your basement. In this case, you need to root out what the source is and fix it rather than trying to mask it.
You might need an expert to help you, but sometimes it’s a quick fix, like unclogging a drain.
General Odor Elimination
If your home doesn’t have any particular odor issue, but you want to make sure it smells good for potential buyers, there are a lot of things you can do.
Focus most of your attention on your kitchen and areas where your pets spend time.
Using vinegar as a cleaning product helps neutralize odors, and you can also leave a bowl of it out on the counter to absorb bad smells.
If you have pets, you may need to do a deep clean of any areas they spend a lot of time, and you should vacuum up any pet hair and dander daily when your house is on the market. Empty litter boxes often, and bathe and groom your pets regularly.
What About Cigarette Smoke?
If anyone has smoked in your house, it can reduce your resale value by as much as 30%. Smoke absorbs into your walls and other fibers, so the odor can stick around even if no one has smoked in the house in years.
The best thing you can do is take everything out of your home and do a deep clean, in addition to having your HVAC system thoroughly cleaned. You will probably also need to operate a HEPA filter with a charcoal pre-filter.
Replace any carpets if there was ever a smoker in your home, and use a primer like Kilz on the walls that neutralizes odors.
Create a Positive Impression
Once your home is clean and you have a neutral odor backdrop, there are certain smells you can introduce that will make possible buyers view it more favorably.
The classic is freshly baked cookies, but instead of that, you might go for something simpler, like just a bit of citrus. That keeps the focus on the home itself, but it’s also pleasant.
Don’t use essential oils, candles, air fresheners, or anything like that because some people are very sensitive to these smells and it may put them off.
Just try to keep things smelling clean and fresh without overdoing it if you want to appeal to the broadest base of possible buyers and make a good impression.