To bake or not to bake?

by Mario Acosta on February 25, 2013

in How We Market Your Home For Sale, Sellers

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of my colleagues the other day about showing homes, and open houses. We sat over coffee debating weather it is better to take a baking cookies approach to scenting the house, or candles, potpourri or nothing at all.

Opinions and theories abound and everyone seemed to have good reasoning. But it did get me curious. So I did a little research and found out something interesting that I wanted to share with you.

This question has actually been studied. I guess it should come as no surprise, after all big stores want to encourage spending. What was found was that while complex scents – such as chocolate chip cookies, bread, spices and the like may be pleasant, they can still be a distraction. It seems they have an effect on some people that causes them to subconsciously spend time trying to identify the aroma, or appreciating the aroma. They were found to be distracting and tended to be what a consumer focused on, and remembered most. Maybe not what we want when a buyer is looking at a number of houses.

Smells that are subtle go, more or less, unnoticed. So people don’t actually concentrate on what they smell. They don’t ask their significant other, “Can you smell that?”

In a retail store study the difference between a subtle “orange” sent and fresh cookie was as much as 36% increase in sales. Although I bet if they were selling cookies it would have been a whole different story.

But if you think about it, it does make perfect sense. In our application we want the overall home to stand out more than any single feature. The last thing we want to do is distract the buyer from being able to project themselves into the home. Actually, this principle applies to many things in and around the home that is listed for sale. For instance, if you have a lot of personal pictures displayed, it’s likely they will distract potential buyers. They’ll get a little curious and start exploring your photos and commenting on them to the agent or whoever they are with while viewing your home. It also distinctly defines it as your home – not theirs. You want to hear them comment on how beautiful their dining room set would be in the dining room, not becoming completely focused on the beautiful arrangement you have set up on yours.
Other things to avoid such as having medications out or even in your prescription cabinet. Yes, just like the home’s aroma and the photos on your counter, this can be a distraction. Even if the medicine is tucked away in drawers or cabinets, chances are it will be discovered. When buyers pass through a home, they open closets, cabinets, little almost-hidden drawers. It’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re thinking of putting their own “stuff” where your stuff currently is. So they need to check out all the spaces available. If they stumble upon unusual or private medications, they may stop and look them over instead of the house.

The best policy when showing a home is to show it as if you don’t live in it. Okay, stop your laughing. How’s that possible? Think “MODEL HOME”. Clear the decks. Start packing now. Stored and stacked boxes in a garage are not only less distracting – better yet get them off site – you will be glad you are ahead in the whole move when the home sells. Try and get your home staged. You can consult with your agent, or a trusted real estate professional to give you a few pointers. This is also great advice BEFORE your home is photographed to be put out on the MLS and on the many web sites where your trusted agent will be featuring your home. After all a few weeks of living in a beautifully staged model home will make you remember what it was like when you first moved in–spacious–free of clutter. Hey, you might find you don’t need a bigger house after all.

So pack up your private belongings. Less is more when showing your home. Tone down the scent–especially of pets. Find a way to clear and store the clutter. You’ll be glad you did because your home will show bigger, it will allow the buyer to more easily project themselves into the house, and it may mean a faster sale of your home and for more money.

Not to leave you thinking I am against chocolate chip cookies, on the contrary. Nor do I want to leave you hanging – so here is a link to a super simple fast recipe for crunchy chocolate chip cookies that I love. Hope you will too.

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Post by Mario Acosta

Mario has written 117 articles.

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