Jason Robie: A little goes a long way

By Jason Robie
I seem to find myself using clichés quite a bit in my musings. Perhaps, in my advanced age (VERY early 40s), I'm realizing all those "old people" before me actually learned something in their day. Regardless, there is lots of truth to those sayings and this one is no different. In fact if my last name were in fact "Little" I could be a storyline for a movie, as I currently find myself surrounded with the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. If you have ever driven this way, it really IS a long way!
Back to the subject at hand, we're talking about smells today. I will never forget my freshman year of high school and first period Spanish class with Mrs. Valencia. (Names have been changed to protect the odiferous.) Perhaps my eyes were a bit sensitive, but the amount of perfume that woman bathed in each morning would cause my eyes to burn and water for the full hour. I couldn't even tell you what the offensive aroma was as I believe I have attempted to block out that portion of my youth. No es bueno!
The age-old trick of baking cookies, or more efficiently lighting a fresh-cookie candle, is still in use all over the place today. But does it really do the trick? The dean of the college of business at Washington State University, Eric Spangenberg, explored the affect of scents on consumers and found some great results. Your cookies might not be the answer you were looking for.
While studying the consumer reactions to aromas in Switzerland, he found that a simple orange scent induced shoppers to spend over 31 percent more. Other scents such as basil, green tea and mixing orange with other scents had the exact opposite effect. Spangenberg also had students solve word problems under the same scent scenarios.
The results pointed to how smells impact our cognitive function. The more simple the smell, the less time our brains spend trying to identify it. That same area of the brain is thought to also impact decision-making. People within the "simple-smell" group didn't spend time (or brain function) trying to figure out what the smell was or asking their partner if they had figured it out, they just continued shopping. The brain simply accepts the single (in this case citrus) smell and moves on.
This same principle applies to other areas of the home that is listed for sale. We have talked about removing personal items from the home so the potential buyers can picture themselves in the home instead of feeling like a visitor. Removing these personal items also removes that additional distraction from the showing process. Rather than focusing on how cute your kids are or the picture of you in front of the Epcot center, they are focused on the home itself.
Another area of distraction is personal medications, whether in a cabinet or even left out. Buyers walking through your home are going to open drawers, cabinets, closets and explore every nook and cranny of your home. (Wouldn't you!?) For the record, it is exactly what they are supposed to do. They want to ensure that their "stuff" will fit in all of these places. Removing those medications and prescriptions will help stop their brains from figuring out what ails you and let them focus on the home itself.
So don't worry about the fresh cookie smell; chances are it will be identified quickly and they can move on to the task at hand. But if you have the choice, keep the aromas simple and keep the clutter and personal items gone. As Bill Barbin of Badger Realty tells me, "Show the home like nobody lives there. The less people can see or 'smell' of the current owner, the more easily they can picture themselves making this house their home." Truer words were never spoken.

Jason Robie is staff writer for Badger Realty in North Conway. Phone number for Badger is (603) 356-5757. Robie's email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..