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Smells that Sell

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We've all heard that if you really want to sell your home, you should bake -- and maybe even display -- a fresh batch of cookies before the showing. It'll trigger some deep impulse in the potential buyers' brains that somehow says, "Home."

But this may not actually be the case.

There is a lot of science behind how scents trigger memory and emotion, and retailers have been trying to capitalize on this for years. The thinking is that the right smells will bypass the rational center of the brain and cause shoppers to buy on impulse. But the data just doesn't support it. While there are ways to positively impact buying, stimulating the olfactory senses doesn't seem to be one of them.

The idea that you can influence someone with the aroma of fresh baked goods suffers from the same flawed premise. While to you the smell may all but shout, "This is home!" To someone walking into your house for the first time it could instead trigger confusion, "What's that smell?" or even alarm, "Was the stove left on?"

It may seem like a good idea at the time, but instead of trying for that emotional connection, try reassuring the buyers with the smell of a clean house. Start by opening some windows if the weather is nice. Some fresh air can do wonders. Pine boughs and sliced lemons can also give a subtly pleasant smell that people are used to.

Try to avoid cleaning products and/or air fresheners right before the showing as they have a distinct chemical smell to them. Candles and other scent products can also be a bad idea. Your nose gets used to them because you've been smelling them for so long. You don't really notice them anymore, but the fragrance can be overpowering to someone walking in the door for the first time.

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