Styled, Staged & Sold

Bringing you the latest home design and staging trends. From REALTOR® Magazine.

On Second Thought, Don't Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Open House!

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

A favorite real estate tip: When prepping a home for a showing, whip up some chocolate chip cookies to fill the home with that rich, inviting, tasty smell. Who wouldn’t want to sit back and stay awhile?

Well, you may want to put down the mixing bowl and turn off the oven. Research now says that chocolate chip cookies are one of the worst scents to have in a real estate open house.

Researchers used a sample size of 402 people in a home decor store in Switzerland to find out which scents were the most pleasing to customers. The researchers say the findings could provide some insights into the most pleasing smells during open houses too.

One of the author’s of the study, Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, recently told The Wall Street Journal that baked goods are a complex scent that can distract potential home buyers, even if the scent is pleasant. Buyers will subconsciously devote time to trying to figure out the scent, instead of devoting the time to determining if this is a place they really want to live. (Or maybe it’s really that they devote time and energy to finding where in the world you stashed all those cookies!)

Other distracting complex smells that researchers also suggest could distract customers: Potpourri, gourmet foods, and baked goods.

So if you want an inviting smell to fill a home for your open house, what home scents should you reach for? Simple scents -- like pine, lemon, cedar, and vanilla -- all which can be easier for buyers to process and less distracting, Spangenberg says.

For example, Chris McDonnell, a real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Vail, Colo., told The Wall Street Journal he’ll prep a home for an open house by cutting fresh pine branches or picking fresh lavender and mint from his herb garden -- scents that mimic the outdoor lifestyle he’s also trying to sell.

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REALTOR® Magazine is the official magazine of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and the business tool for real estate professionals.