Humans have five basic senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. The sense of smell can have a direct effect on a person's emotional response in any situation—even when selling a home. The smells of a home can tell the buyer a story, and that story is either a good story or a not-so-pleasant story.
When a potential buyer is viewing a home, the smell of the home is just as important as the visual appeal. Odors can evoke a negative emotional response, which in turn can distract the buyer from imagining themselves living in the home. Instead, buyers are wandering around trying to identify the odor, or perhaps the potential buyer is allergic to that favorite potpourri or essential oil scent. I showed a darling little home to some clients a couple of years ago and will never forget this showing. Can you guess why it still sticks with me to this day? To no surprise, it was because of the overwhelming smell of the three separate essential oil diffusers running around the house. We were overpowered and so consumed with trying to figure what the seller was trying to cover up, that we couldn't really take in all the home had to offer. The showing ended with the buyers in sneezing fits and us hitting the road toward the next potential dream home.
I had another experience with a listing. The property was a beautiful custom home. It had everything; including a tenant who did not want the house to sell. So, before each and every showing, the house was "perfumed" with an incredibly strong odor of marijuana. As one can imagine, this smell evoked a wide range of responses from potential buyers—some funny and some deeply offended. About 95% of the time, the concern was voiced about whether the smell of weed would come out of the house.
Our pets are family members—but that said, not everyone wants to share in the delightful odors these four-legged family members can leave behind. I can't tell you how many times I've shown property and experienced buyers who couldn't take in the features because they were completely preoccupied with the overwhelming animal odor. A realtor will tell you that it's crucial to minimize any pet odor while the home is on the market. This includes sweet kitty's litter box and bowls of food.
In the case of food, cooking odors can linger for days, particularly when cooking food with a pungent odor, such as fish. The last thing one wants to have be the focal point of the showing is the lingering scent of last night's salmon or tuna.
It's important to consider as a seller the possibility of having become "nose blind" to the scents of the home. A seller needs to be mindful of what potential buyers could be sensitive to when trying to give the best first impression when showing a home.