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Home selling scents: The smells that could win or lose you a sale

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COMMENTARY
GUIDE

We give market commentary when journalists or news outlets approach us directly for comment on specific topics. We share our commentary here too. See below.

While myths of baking bread to secure the sale of your home might have some truth behind them, our research this week has revealed that good old-fashioned fresh air is the scent most likely to secure a buyer, while cigarette smoke and blocked drains will have them heading for the hills. We surveyed 1,688 homebuyers who have purchased a home in the last six months to see which smells would deter and entice them during the viewing process.

Best and worst home selling scents

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Best smells to influence buyers

When asked which smells would positively influence their decision to buy, there was a clear winner. With neutral colours and features often advised as the best bet when providing a buyer with a blank canvas during the viewing process, it seems the same goes for smells, with 22% stating that general fresh air was a seller’s best bet for making a positive impression.

Fresh flowers also ranked high with 15% of buyers stating it would positively influence their decision, as did the old favourite of fresh bread or baked goods.

Interestingly, the garden presents a good opportunity to bolster this positive influence, with 12% stating that a freshly mown lawn would also positively impact their thoughts on a property.

11% would be uninfluenced by any strategic scent during the viewing process, while fresh coffee and laundry would help for 10% of buyers, with shop-bought fragrances the least popular at just 5%.

Scents for sellers to avoid

Of course, there are a number of scents that could scupper a sale, with the top-ranking being cigarette smoke. 23% of buyers said it would deter them from buying a house that was otherwise perfect for them, with a further 22% ranking the smell of blocked drains as the biggest deterrent.

Image of man taking out rubbish to avoid house smells

General rubbish (13%), the smell of a pet (11%), a recently used toilet and strong food smells such as cooked fish (9%) also ranked high, with dirty laundry (6%) less of an issue.

Just 5% wouldn’t be deterred from buying a perfect home due to an unsavoury smell. So if you're trying to sell your house fast on the open market, good smells seem like a must to help sway those viewers to make an offer.

We eat with our eyes (and apparently buy homes with our noses)

Matthew Cooper, Founder & Managing Director of Yes Homebuyers, commented:

“We set out to debunk the myths around the power of smell when it comes to selling a home, but it seems that in the same way we apparently eat with our eyes, we also buy homes with our noses.

Various smells, both positive and negative, seem to have a considerable influence on the decision-making process of homebuyers, so much so that the vast majority of buyers would actually ditch their otherwise ideal home due to a negative nasal impression. As professional home-buyers we tend to look past these sorts of issues (we buy any house in any condition - so we're used to seeing much worse from time to time!). But for ordinary buyers, scents remain a major factor in their home-buying decision.

So it’s more likely that a bad smell will deter a buyer, however it does seem as though the old tricks of fresh flowers and baking could help sway them in the opposite direction.”

"

Best smells to influence buyers

When asked which smells would positively influence their decision to buy, there was a clear winner. With neutral colours and features often advised as the best bet when providing a buyer with a blank canvas during the viewing process, it seems the same goes for smells, with 22% stating that general fresh air was a seller’s best bet for making a positive impression.

Fresh flowers also ranked high with 15% of buyers stating it would positively influence their decision, as did the old favourite of fresh bread or baked goods.

Interestingly, the garden presents a good opportunity to bolster this positive influence, with 12% stating that a freshly mown lawn would also positively impact their thoughts on a property.

11% would be uninfluenced by any strategic scent during the viewing process, while fresh coffee and laundry would help for 10% of buyers, with shop-bought fragrances the least popular at just 5%.

Scents for sellers to avoid

Of course, there are a number of scents that could scupper a sale, with the top-ranking being cigarette smoke. 23% of buyers said it would deter them from buying a house that was otherwise perfect for them, with a further 22% ranking the smell of blocked drains as the biggest deterrent.

Image of man taking out rubbish to avoid house smells

General rubbish (13%), the smell of a pet (11%), a recently used toilet and strong food smells such as cooked fish (9%) also ranked high, with dirty laundry (6%) less of an issue.

Just 5% wouldn’t be deterred from buying a perfect home due to an unsavoury smell. So if you're trying to sell your house fast on the open market, good smells seem like a must to help sway those viewers to make an offer.

We eat with our eyes (and apparently buy homes with our noses)

Matthew Cooper, Founder & Managing Director of Yes Homebuyers, commented:

“We set out to debunk the myths around the power of smell when it comes to selling a home, but it seems that in the same way we apparently eat with our eyes, we also buy homes with our noses.

Various smells, both positive and negative, seem to have a considerable influence on the decision-making process of homebuyers, so much so that the vast majority of buyers would actually ditch their otherwise ideal home due to a negative nasal impression. As professional home-buyers we tend to look past these sorts of issues (we buy any house in any condition - so we're used to seeing much worse from time to time!). But for ordinary buyers, scents remain a major factor in their home-buying decision.

So it’s more likely that a bad smell will deter a buyer, however it does seem as though the old tricks of fresh flowers and baking could help sway them in the opposite direction.”

See data & sources

Survey of 1,688 recent UK homebuyers (last 6 months) carried out by Yes Homebuyers on 6th April 2021 via Find Out Now

Table showing survey data for best and worst smells to help sell your home

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A BIT ABOUT US...

Selling your home to Yes Homebuyers

  • Yes Homebuyers buy your home directly from you so you can sell your house fast and avoid waiting around to find a buyer on the regular market. 
  • We offer flexible timeframes to suit you and on average, complete a sale within 30 days. 
  • Yes Homebuyers' quickest completed purchase was made in six days. 
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  • There are no fees or costs involved and we cover all legal fees involved.
  • There are no contracts or tie-ins even if you accept an offer, and no viewings to take care of.

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