What Delicious Scents Could Be Hiding On A Home Tour

Whether you're touring a rental unit or scoping out a home for sale, there are a variety of tricks real estate agents use to make their properties seem more desirable. For example, they'll often light a candle, place oil diffusers around the home, use air fresheners, or even bake cookies and other sweet treats. This is meant to create a homey and familiar environment that's appealing to buyers, while candles and other aromatics make the viewing experience more pleasant overall.

However, this is a somewhat outdated hack for both buyers and sellers. People viewing homes can get distracted by powerful scents, including sweets like cookies and other freshly baked goods, pungent foods, and potpourri. As such, it's suggested that realtors should ditch the cookware and focus instead on neutral and clean scents, like pine, vanilla, citrus, jasmine, or cinnamon. However, as a buyer or renter, overly perfumed home tours can be a potential red flag that masks the smell of mold, mildew, cigarette smoke, or a plethora of other unsavory scents.

Hiding negative scents

Although a pleasant aroma can be appealing when touring a home or apartment, it can also be a sign that the listing or real estate agent is trying to hide something. Pennsylvania-based realtor Denise Supplee of Long and Foster Real Estate told Realtor.com that one of her biggest listing red flags is an overabundance of scents. This is because it may be a sign the owner is trying to mask scents that are impossible to remove — cigarette smoke, pet urine, mold, bad neighborhood smells, and so on.

If the home you're touring is covered in every aromatic possible, take it as a sign to look closer at the property's details. Look for mold or water damage on the walls and floors, particularly in the basement. You'll also want to examine carpets for pet stains and check if the walls are yellowed from prolonged indoor smoking. No one wants to move into their home only to discover it smells rancid under normal conditions. Plus, scents like mildew could be a warning sign of severe damage to the house's structure.

How much is too much

This isn't to say every real estate agent who burns a candle or plugs in a wax melt is trying to hide nefarious odors or trick you into signing. On the contrary, walking into a well-scented home is always lovely, especially if you're trying to envision yourself living there. The issue, though, is when it becomes too much at once, according to Denise Supplee (via Realtor.com). "When there's too much going on in the scent department—plug-ins, wax warmers, and candles, for example — I have to wonder what that overkill is hiding," Supplee explains.

Candles and similar aromatics tend to be very effective. Suppose the real estate agent has one mild-scented vanilla candle or a gentle orange oil in a diffuser in just one central room, like the living room or kitchen. In that case, they're likely just trying to make the home feel more welcoming and intimate. This is especially useful in new builds or renovations, which may still have a lingering sawdust or sterile scent before your move-in. However, if they have a candle or automatic sprayer in every room or multiple scent boosters at once, that's where the red flag lies.