Which Scents Sell Homes

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A Better Approach To Selling Your HomeWSJ_02152013_NA_2_Section M_M10_P_v0-proof

You’ve probably heard that the smell of baking cookies or pie helps potential buyers on a house tour feel at home and more likely to put in an offer. It’s common practice for sellers to pop some cookie dough into the oven or light some sugar-cookie scented candles. But now, it looks like there is a more effective way to sell your home! My wife is into essential oils and so this kind of thing is on our radar, and apparently it’s on researchers’ radar too.

Choose A Simple Scent

According to Using Scent To Make A Sale by Sanette Tanaka , researchers found that retailers using a simple scent (Orange) increased their sales around 19% compared to no scent used. Using a complex scent (Orange-basil-green tea) didn’t have an effect. The more complex notes become a distraction because some people’s brains dedicate time trying to figure out exactly what they’re smelling. Baking cookies are usually an easily recognizable scent, but it can become a distraction if someone’s subconscious is trying to figure out what type of cookies were baking.

Mimic What’s Missing

Another important consideration is the type of space you’re trying to sell. Researchers from Concordia University wanted to see if scent could counter the claustrophobia caused by small, packed, retail spaces as well as the anxiety caused by an open, minimally stocked retail space (Poon, Tina [2013] It Smells Crowded: An Experimental Investigation of Olfactory Influence on Spatial Perception. Masters thesis, Concordia University.) The findings can help you balance your space and foster a sense of well-being for those touring your home.

In the It Smells Crowded… study, it was found that when a scent associated with a cozy space-the scent of firewood-was diffused in a large, open space, the subjects felt less anxious vs no scent diffused. Likewise, when a scent associated with openness was diffused in a smaller, more cramped space the subjects felt less claustrophobic vs no scent. Comparatively, when a scent associated with openness was diffused in the large, open space, it increased feelings of anxiety in the subjects.

Conform To The Environment

One more factor to consider would be the natural environment of a home. If you diffuse cedar wood essential oil in a modern town house, the potential buyers might have to devote part of their subconscious figuring out why that out-of-place aroma is in this house. Diffusing basil may not fit a log cabin in the woods either. Just something to keep in mind.

Some ideas for scents which might apply to environments in El Dorado County

El Dorado County residential areas pretty much consists of small towns, mountain homes, farm homes, lake homes, and forest homes, so I’ll list suggestions for each variation you might want to use.

7815990410_047b2a85b2_kFarm House

  • Large: Cinnamon
  • Small: Lemon

Town Home

  • Large: Nutmeg
  • Small: Spearmint

Forest Home

  • Large: Cedarwood
  • Small: Rosemary

Mountain Home

  • Large: Cinnamon Bark
  • Small: Lavender


Applying the information found is relatively simple and effective. If you have a large house with minimalist decor and you think potential buyers may feel a little anxious in it, it’s wise to diffuse a scent associated with a cozy space which fits in with the natural environment of the location or style of the house. If you are selling a smaller house which might feel cramped once a couple of potential buyers are walking through it with the Realtor, it’s a good idea to help 2147693881_97dcab41c8_zthem not feel claustrophobic by diffusing one essential oil associated with open spaces which fits into the natural environment of location or style of the house. Just keep the aromas simple.

Aim For Subtle

The suggestions listed above might not fit each situation perfectly, so do some experimenting. To keep the scent subtle during a home tour, if it’s a stronger aroma then use less and diffuse it a while before potential buyers show up so there’s time for it to dissipate. Try different scents and you can think of the warmer ones as cozier aromas and the cooler/higher scents as scents associated with openness. Have fun and try this out for your next home too, and feel free to use blends, so you can enjoy a custom aroma for your own home; might be a fun family project.

If you’re diffusing essential oils in the house you’re selling then it’s best to get best quality, non-synthetic oils so it doesn’t induce unpleasant side effects like headaches. I don’t know much about it, but my wife only uses Young Living essential oils which are therapeutic grade, so diffusing those might help improve health while improving the perceived comfort of the house you’re selling. In order to ensure the scents stay simple, diffuse one essential oil instead of an essential oil blend-the ingredients should be listed on the bottle.


Thanks for your time today! I hope you found some useful information in this post. Please feel free to browse my website and follow my blog for updates on real estate news, timely home maintenance suggestions and tips for buyers and sellers.




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