Although you could certainly argue that our other senses are more important, never underestimate the power of scent. Our olfactory system is powerful and complex. With just one sniff, you might be repulsed, curious, comforted, seduced, or even excited. And just think about all the billions of dollars spent on fragrance each year. Consider the perfumes and colognes costing over $50 a bottle, the candles, the incense, the oil, the sprays…

Scent ties us to memories as well. Have you ever caught a whiff of something and had it evoke a significant memory? Take a moment right now and imagine these smells: your grandma's house, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, your lover's perfume or cologne, a box of crayons, salty sea air, campfire smoke, buttery popcorn, play-doh, a Christmas tree, cut grass… At least one of those scents probably triggered a memory for you, and I wouldn't be surprised if more than half of them did. Scents stick with you and when you smell them after time has passed, you can be momentarily transported back into your past. Because scents are so influential and atmospheric, it's incredibly important that you think about your home's scent as you try to sell it. If you use the best scents for open house tours, you'll be able to engage buyers' noses just as you engage their hearts, minds, and wallets.

Take a moment first to analyze your home's smell. Chances are, you can't smell it. This is common, but don't let it trick you into thinking your home has no smell. As with most things, if you're around a scent too long, you become accustomed to it and soon fail to notice it at all. So instead of trusting your own ideas about your home, ask your friends, family, or your real estate agent to tell you what they smell when they walk into your house. Hopefully, their impressions are positive. If so, you could certainly choose to just leave the home as it is, with its everyday, pleasant scent, or you could pick something more distinctive and dramatic. If the results are negative, you need to make a change before inviting buyers over for an open house.

A well-scented house starts with cleanliness. Clean your home thoroughly, in all its nooks and crannies, and if you have disinctively unpleasant scents lingering (smoke, cat hair, mildew, etc.), you might want to call in a professional. Then, it's time to choose your scent!

One of the most common scents for open houses is freshly baked cookies. This is a safe choice because most people like cookies and their smell evokes a nice, homey, comforting feeling. To achieve this smell, just bake some cookies right before the open house is set to start. Be sure they're out of the oven before you get started though, so you don't risk burning the cookies or having to run for them in the middle of a conversation.

If you'd like a simpler, clean scent, try lemon, basil, rosemary, or pine. These fresh fragrances are recognizable and unobtrusive. Some other good options are orange, cinnamon, vanilla, or mint.

As you choose and use scents, just be sure to keep the scent natural and subtle. Artificial smells are best avoided, so don't run around beforehand spraying Febreeze. You want guests to get the impression that your house always smells clean and lovely, so try to use natural techniques. You could cut up citrus fruit for drinks, display boughs of herbs, or boil cinnamon on the stove. Try simmering lemon, rosemary, and vanilla on the stove or, if it's December, boil cinnamon and display boughs of fragrant pine for decoration as well as scent.

With a lot of cleaning and a little scent, you can help homebuyers see how lovely your home truly is. Good luck!