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  • Writer's pictureDonna Baker

Appealing to the Senses

Perhaps you have made the decision to sell your home. Congratulations! Now what? Beyond consulting with your local real estate expert about the market, pricing and costs, and what they can do for you, you need to start thinking about your home as a buyer might.

Selling to the senses can be an invaluable tool when selling anything. Think about your last trip to your favorite upscale store—items were displayed to their best advantage, certain items were featured with special lighting or staging, the store was clean with surfaces gleaming, music played softly in the background, and maybe it even had a special scent wafting in the air. (Please note, we did use the word “upscale” before “store” so big box or hardware stores are not what we are talking about here.) Anyway, you get the idea. Appealing to the senses of sight, smell, and hearing or sensory selling can also work to your advantage when selling a home.


Buyers react more favorably to a property that is well lighted. For this reason, you will want to be sure all light bulbs are in working order. You need to consider what type of lighting to use in different areas as they will set the tone for each room. Ultimately the choice is yours but some tips from the experts give the following advice about light bulbs:

·        SOFT WHITE/WARM WHITE: Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them

·        BRIGHT WHITE/COOL WHITE: Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel

·        DAYLIGHT: Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup – provides the greatest contrast among colors

The use of mirrors to magnify the feeling of space and light, using light wall colors and opening drapes and blinds are all key in sensory selling.

Because the home will be well lighted you must insure all surfaces are clean and dust free. Sparkling windows, counter tops, walls, doors, sinks, tubs, faucets and switch plates while not always viewed individually will give an overall sense of a home that is well cared for to the finest detail.


 Smell has more impact than you might expect. It can work for or against you. The smell of newness can be achieved by applying a fresh coat of polyurethane to natural wood or latex paint on walls. The smell of cleanliness is extremely important in a selling environment. Smells to avoid include strong pet odors, tobacco, cooking and oil or gas. 

Deep cleaning should be done prior to going on market, regular intervals of dusting and vacuuming should be counted on for the duration of the time on market. It may be useful to consider hiring assistance with this if your schedule does not allow time or if the home will be vacant. 

Cleaning cannot be stressed enough during the selling period. Your pantry, laundry, storage room and garage should be purged and organized prior to going on market. Kitchens should always be neat and organized with minimal things displayed on counter tops. Floors should be shining, rugs should fit the space and be clean. Bathrooms should have fresh towels, all personal items out of sight, a clean shower curtain and if needed a new toilet seat. Living rooms are places buyers will be looking for space so evaluate your furniture and remove some if needed or add seasonal pillows or throws to freshen up the furnishings. Bedrooms are usually the last to receive TLC. When trying to sell they are of critical importance so review yours with a critical eye. Organize closets and make beds EVERY DAY! 

Beyond actual cleaning, lemon oil or lemon wax can create a lasting scent of freshness. A dish of vanilla in a warm oven will create the aroma of fresh baked cookies or bread. You can sweeten the refrigerator with a box of baking soda. 


The sound of peace and quiet can be one of the best sounds to have when a house is being shown to a prospective buyer. If you have a home theater or a built-in surround sound system in your home, light classical or instrumental music or, music and visual in the case of the home theater, can be effective in creating a pleasant atmosphere. 

Some sounds you will want to avoid are barking dogs, sounds of work i.e. vacuum, dishwasher, lawn mower, no banging pipes, sounds of mechanical problems or faulty appliances. 

As we will always advise, you should consult your trusted Realtor to advise you on improvements and enhancements. They will be able to provide a more detailed checklist of how to enhance your specific home but the thoughts above will get you in the correct mindset. 

Attention to the details when selling your home will put you on the road to your next destination in life much quicker than not. Like your mother told you (or should have) you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

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