Laura Barry and Jim Graves, Rancho Santa Fe real estate agents who specialize in brokering the sale of luxury homes, have started The Scents That Sell, a company that makes candles to use in homes that are up for sale.
The candles are part of an overall presentation meant to put potential buyers in the mood to make an offer.
“I almost feel the smell is a form of decorating,” Barry said. “It creates an ambience.”
So far, Barry and Graves have created two scents, Scents that Sell and Rancho Santa Fe, with a third in the works.
“It’s one more piece of the puzzle in selling that luxury space,” Barry said. “It’s the little nuances that we implement in our selling that other agents don’t that really differentiates us.”
The candles help create an environment where people who are shopping for a pricey home feel comfortable.
“None of these buyers have to buy,” Graves said.
No one will buy a home just because it smells nice, but “they definitely won’t buy a house if it doesn’t smell nice,” Graves said.
Not Baking Cookies
The nine-ounce candles that Barry and Graves developed come in highball glasses, that can be used for beverages once the candles are used up, and sell for $63 each through the website, www.thescentsthatsell.com.
Barry and Graves developed the scents with the help of a San Diego candlemaker, whom they declined to name.
No, the candles don’t smell like baking chocolate chip cookies, which Barry said is a trite stunt that perspective buyers immediately recognize as a gimmick.
“You’re like, ‘Aha, I know what you’re doing,’” Barry said. “It’s basically something that we thought, ‘Why not come up with our own scent.’”
Barry said that she routinely used scented candles in homes that she was selling, but she often found that the scents were cloying.
“Our candles aren’t meant to overpower a space. They’re meant to be subtle,” Barry said.
Barry described the scent of the Rancho Santa Fe candles as “a wood blend with some notes of citrus and amber and a little bit of eucalyptus, because Rancho Santa Fe is known for its eucalyptus trees.”
The Scents that Sell candles are “a mix of spring blossom” mixed with other fragrances, Barry said.
“We took a lot of time coming up with this scent,” Barry said. “We did a lot of research to see what is thought of as luxurious.”
Graves was in charge of the research and turned to a book for much of his work, “The Scent of Desire,” by Rachel Herz.
Barry said the scent of the candles is similar in effect to scents that Dior uses in its stores.
She and Graves had more than S409 million in home sales in 2022 and work in price ranges of $2 million and above, according to their website.
While the overall resale home market has been in the doldrums because of a lack of inventory and high mortgage interest rates, Barry said that the luxury market is strong.
“I do think we’re going to have a big year,” Barry said. “There’s been a lot of sales that have taken place.”
Many are off market, meaning they don’t show up on listing services.
“Most of these deals are all cash,” Barry said, so they’re not as affected by the high interest rates.
“I do think 2024 is going to be big in the luxury market,” Barry said.
The Scents that Sell
HEADQUARTERS: Rancho Santa Fe
founderS: Laura Barry and Jim Graves
business: Candle Sales
number of employees: $4.0 billion (fiscal 2022)
NOTABLE: Luxury Scents for Luxury Homes