Smell to sell?

Interesting research has just been released, citing some of the best and worst scents for selling houses.

The research from Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University was conducted in 2010 in a retail environment but the link is being made to real estate. The visual below gives a good summary of ‘best’ and ‘worst’ scents when selling


Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 8.45.19 PM


Key findings are:

  • Simple scents work better than complex scents as buyers will easily recognise a simple scent (e.g. lemon) and will take longer to ‘work out’ a more complex scent which is distracting when viewing a property.
  • Scents need to be congruent with the environment to work best. For example a pine cone smell works better in a forest environment than it would on the beach. Buyers can then make a correct association between what they can smell and what they expect to smell

For the full article in the Wall street Journal click here

So, what’s my take?

  • The best and worst smells make sense to me – who wouldn’t want to smell the scent from a bowl of lemons on the kitchen counter vs a fusty old bowl of pot pourri in the living room?
  • However, I always tell my clients that the best smell when selling is clean, fresh air. In other words no overt smell. I always advise against the following:
    • Artificial smells such as sprays or plug ins as they smell as though they are masking something (they probably are)
    • Scented candles, incense or pot pourri. Scent is such a personal thing. You might think the incense sticks you bought back from Bali or the expensive candle you received for Christmas are helping the sale of your property but others might not share your taste or worse might have an allergic reaction to it.
    • Baking or brewing coffee.  Staging has moved on. Most people have heard the trick of cookie dough or coffee but I think it’s trying too hard. Most buyers are wise to these tricks and might see it as just that – a trick.

I read a great Somerset Maugham quote today “The best style is the style you don’t notice”  This is equally true of smells when selling your property.


I’m Imogen Brown, a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you want to sell your house and need an objective pair of eyes (and nose!) to give you the advice you need to get it sold quickly and for the best price then give me a call on 0432 994 056 or contact me through my website

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3 thoughts on “Smell to sell?

  1. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the structure
    of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2
    images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  2. Really insightful. I mean, so many people just fill their homes with pot-pourri! I actually never understood why people did. Dust collectors is what I call them 😛

    1. ib69 says:

      Yes! Pot pouri doesn’t sell but not no bunches of dusty dried up flowers

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