Staging Your Property to Appeal to All Five Senses

Posted by: Guest Contributor on December 19th, 2012

Before you conduct your first open house, consider how you can stage your property so that it is more appealing to potential buyers. Most open houses appeal to only one sense – our eyes. This is extraordinary given how much our day-to-day emotions are influenced by what we smell and the fact that there is a high chance our mood can change when we are exposed to a positive sound. The importance of our senses has been completely overlooked when it comes to selling a home… until now.

Sniffing an opportunity…

Have you ever walked past a Subway sandwich shop where you can smell the aroma of warm bread? If you look carefully at the awning you will spot vents that are specially designed to disperse baking aromas. This has proved to be a profitable exercise for the Subway Franchise.

Studies show that smell is heavily connected to our memory and our mood. When the opportunity presents itself, I like to place a tangerine or a pinch of vanilla extract on a sheet of tinfoil and turn the oven to 275 degrees. I have observed that this subtle smell will put a smile on a visitor’s face and allow a buyer who has seen 15 similar apartments in one day to distinguish your apartment as the “vanilla smelling apartment”. The smell must be subtle and anything too strong could backfire.

Taste goes hand in hand with smell.
Who’s in a good mood when they’re hungry? In addition to creating a subtle aroma, pairing simple foods together could go a long way with changing your buyer’s mood. When I place a pinch of vanilla extract in the oven I generally like to offer foods that match this smell such as cookies, chocolate, and coffee that I have brewed. When I place a tangerine in the oven, chopped fruit with tooth picks and wine generally matches the aroma better.

Depending on the type of clientele your listing attracts you can choose between one or the other. From my experience when dealing with apartments that have multiple bedrooms where a family is going to live, I generally like to serve coffee and cookies, as I sometimes expect kids to show up. The use of coffee will also make them feel more alert and thus more prone to listening to what you have to say and the act of making the coffee and pouring it into their cup will make them feel more at home. When dealing with a one bedroom apartment that will generally attract a first-time single buyer and clients looking for pied-a-tiers, I find fruit and wine make them feel more relaxed and more prone to opening up to the agent.

Sound is connected to mood as smell is connected to memory.
Sound creates feelings and emotions. Think about the last love movie you saw, it isn’t nearly as emotional if you watched it with the sound off. If you have ever been to a townhouse open house in NYC at times you’ll see them hire an opera singer, cellist and violinist. I am not saying you should go that far, however, I do think that a subtle natural melody can help soften the mood and make a buyer feel more relaxed.

Temperature is key and doors are for discovery…

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It instantly alerts us to cold, heat, pain or pressure. When you hold an open house make sure the temperature of the house is right. In the fall and spring I would advise keeping the thermostat at 72 degrees. In the winter I would advise 80 degrees and in the summer at around 60. Remember if the house is too hot it’s going to come off as ‘stuffy’ and if the house is too cold it’s going to come off as unwelcoming.

Also, before a buyer walks into the house, close all doors to closets, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The more doors a buyer opens the larger the apartment feels.

Sight is the most seductive sense of all.

It often overrules the other senses, and has the power to persuade us against all logic. What you should understand about vision is that it’s all about light and that’s why they say, to truly see what an artist saw when painting a given picture; you should look at it under the same light. Here’s my advice:

  • The house should be shown when it receives the best natural light.
  • Turn on ALL lights in the house.
  • Allow your prospective buyer to see themselves in the space. It is important that you remove personal items such as photographs, collectables, awards, family heirlooms or controversial art.
  • Clear out any clutter and knickknacks from corners, counters and tables. Remove outdated furniture and extra pieces to open up a room and make it more inviting.
  • Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Clean and organized closets look roomier. Consider advising the seller to donate unused clothing and items to their favorite charity.
  • If the property needs work – dated wallpaper, ratty carpet – consider having it replaced. A fresh coat of neutral paint is a relatively inexpensive way to make a home look clean and fresh.
  • Making minor repairs can also make a big difference. Replace cracked floor or counter tiles, patch holes in walls, replace burned-out light bulbs, fix leaky faucets, doors that don’t close properly and broken fixtures.
  • Clean like the sale of your home depended on it … because it does. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bathroom sinks and counters. Clean windows to make a room brighter and so your buyers are no distracted.

Ariel Dagan is a Licensed Salesperson at Keller Williams NYC. Over the years, he has focused his efforts on Upper East Side apartments for sale. Through this he has become an expert in Upper East Side condos and coops.



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