How to Leave a Lasting Impression on Potential Home Buyers

The One Thing That Can Make or Break How People Feel About Your House

How to Leave a Lasting Impression on Potential Home Buyers

When initially listing your property, you will be paying attention to making it look as good as possible to potential buyers who view your listing online. While this is definitely important (a professional property photographer can be a godsend in this regard – ask your real estate agent who they’d recommend), prospective buyers will ultimately want to see the property in person.

When the time for the open house comes, you will need to make sure that your house is spick and span and sparkling, and that all appliances and fittings are in good working order. Your house should not just look good, but it should also have a pleasant smell.

The open house is a great opportunity to showcase your property and put it in the very best light. What is the one thing that can make or break how people feel about your house? Attention to detail – and here is what to look out for.

Scrub down the bathroom

The bathroom is one of the rooms in the house that could certainly mean the difference between a house that sells and one that doesn’t. Because the bathroom, together with the kitchen, can be two of the most costly areas in the house to repair, prospective property buyers know to keep their eyes peeled here, and you can be sure that they’ll keenly inspect every little detail.

Before the buyers do, you should take a good hard look at everything in the bathroom. Are all the taps working properly and as they should? Remember, you shouldn’t think like someone who has lived in this space for as long as you have, but you should rather try and envision it the way someone who is first seeing it would. That means fixing or getting rid of anything that isn’t working exactly as it should.

The leaky tap that requires the use of both hands when closing it, or it won’t stop dripping? Replace it – you can bet that potential buyers will notice it. The shower door that has never really closed properly and leaves puddles all over the floor after every use? Throw it out and install a new one.

Carefully inspect and test everything in the bathroom. If need be, refinish or replace worn bathtubs and replace broken or cracked tiles. Look out for leaks around the toilet and elsewhere in the bathroom, and repair them, as these will be especially off-putting to would-be buyers.

Finally, give the bathroom an overall deep clean, paying attention to often-neglected areas like the outside of the toilet bowel or the hinges on the shower door. Dust off and wipe down the windowsills and disinfect the entire area with bleach or bathroom cleaners. Make sure that the shower door and taps are sparkling and that the bathroom smells pleasant when potential buyers come to view the property.

Freshen the fridge and kitchen

Like the bathroom, the kitchen is an area of the house that buyers will inspect with a hawk’s eye. This room should also be spotless when buyers come to see it, and all appliances should be in good working order.

When taking a look at the kitchen, it certainly won’t hurt to take the opportunity to sort out the cupboards and the pantry. Not only will you be making sure that these are neat and tidy, should potential buyers want to take a peek at the size of the cabinets from inside, but you will also be making the packing easier when it comes time to move.

Now, test every appliance in the kitchen. Kitchen appliances can be costly, but a stove with only two working plates will be an immediate turn-off for potential buyers, especially if they are keen cooks or bakers.

Clean out the fridge before the open house, getting rid of old produce and those leftovers from two weeks ago that you’ve forgotten about. Clean and sanitise the fridge and get rid of any lingering smells by placing a small bowl with a paste made from baking soda and water in the fridge. This mixture is excellent at absorbing smells in areas that are notorious for retaining them, and is certainly worth remembering. Clean the oven and also place a bowl of the baking soda mixture inside to absorb food smells.

Clean and shine up the taps and sinks and remember to check for signs of mould under the sink, as this could signal a leak somewhere. If the drain has an odour, use a drain cleaner to get rid of any blockages that might be leading to it.

Sweep the floor, wash it, and take out the rubbish and clean out and disinfect the bin, sniffing for lingering unpleasant smells as you go. Some studies have shown that the smell of baked goods in the kitchen has a good effect on potential buyers coming to see the property. If you opt for impressing buyers with your baking prowess, remember to wash all the dishes and wipe down surfaces before potential buyers come to view the property.

Take out the trash

It goes without saying that the entire property should be spotless when buyers descend on the open house. This means tidying, cleaning and vacuuming every room. Clear all bins in the house and dispose of the garbage in the outside bin. Try and undertake your cleaning mission before the garbage disposal comes to collect the rubbish, and make sure that the area where the outside bin is does not have an unpleasant smell.

Sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of rubbish bins after cleaning them out to absorb any odours that may still be present. Ideally, you should try to keep the big outside bin out of sight when potential buyers come to view the property – you don’t want the first thing prospective buyers see when they drive up to be the rubbish bin.

Remember to also get rid of any garden rubbish and to rake up leaves, so the garden is tidy. Inspect the sidewalk for rubbish that might have blown over to your property – a clean kerb is another one of the very first impressions your property makes.

Use Essential Oils

As you might have gathered thus far, good smells sell. A lot has been said about the influence of the olfactory sense on decision-making, and some property experts believe that certain scents may have a hand in getting things sold.

Even so, Eric Spangenberg, an expert in the realm of smells that sell, has found that the very best smell is none at all. Overall, Spangenberg’s research found, sales tended to be higher in retail settings where there was no discernable smell at all. This is because consumers prefer smells that are not too complex. All of this could lead us to assume that burning incense and potpourri doesn’t necessarily bode well for the impression your property makes.

Spangenberg did find, however, that certain very specific simple scents do sometimes lead to higher sales.

Citrusy scents, like lemon, orange and other citrus fruits, for example, are fragrant and long-lasting, without overwhelming the buyer with a smell that is too complex. Vanilla’s homely and fresh aroma is another simple scent that appeals to buyers, as is green tea, pine and cedar, and some herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil.

Try to find essential oils in the scents mentioned to burn a little while before potential buyers come to look at the house, or boil fresh herbs in a pot before they arrive. Take care to not use something that is overwhelming, though – test the oils beforehand. The golden rule is that the smell shouldn’t be the first thing you notice, but rather something that creates a pleasant backdrop to your sparkling and tidy home.


Attention to detail makes an immediate impression on potential buyers. This doesn’t only entail making sure that the house is spotless when buyers arrive, but also that it smells pleasant. If you do not have the cash at your disposal to repaint or undertake other renovations to the property, simply presenting it well is off the essence.

In this regard, you should clean and disinfect all areas of the property, paying special attention to any unpleasant odours that might be lingering. Here, specific areas like rubbish bins, drains, toilets and kitchen appliances are of particular concern. Ask your real estate agent what their first impression was when they saw your property – they will be able to give an objective opinion and sound advice. Still haven’t found the perfect real estate gent to help you sell your property quickly, and at the best possible price? Simply fill out our questionnaire to get tailored recommendations from a pool of experienced and qualified agents.