How much does cigarette smoke cost home sellers?

Smoking in a home could lower the value of property as much as 29 percent according to a recent survey of Ontario real estate agents and brokers, sponsored by Pfizer Canada.
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  • March 26 - US
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Answers (16)

Smoking inside the home does cause issues for many potential buyers. It's also very difficult to remove the smell. It can ruin a potential sale when the buyers says, " no thank you!"
  I had the "dubious pleasure" of trying to rid a rental property of the smell once. We had to wash everything including the light fixtures,door knobs, light switches, window frames, and it was even on the light bulbs!. Then the carpets had to be removed and replace, and the floor scrubbed under them.
The entire place had to be repainted and we were still not completely satisfied when that was done.
  • March 28
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I don't know about percentages but any kind of bad odor can kill a deal and I would rank cigarette smoke as the worst because it permeates everything.   We were in a house this morning that stunk of urine as soon as we walked through the door and the quick answer was to take out the carpets.  
 In some cases smells from mold or cigarettes have completely killed the showing. When the door opens and you are hit with the stink it is hard to get beyond it. 
 There are machines that emite a microscopic mist of solution that works pretty well to remove odors. 
 Since fewer people are smoking today  I would say the 29% is a low figure.  
  • March 28
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We've been there. You open the front door and need to make a decision. Go in and smell like nicotine all day or tell the buyer, 'You're on your own!'  The buyer wrinkles their nose and say, "Next!" 

IN such a house, total remediation may not be possible even with destructive measures. For instance real wood wall finishing may need to be thrown out because they can not be recovered and retain the real wood look, HVAC replacement, and saturation of other permeable objects. 
 
You could easily reach 30% of value when you realize ALL surfaces must be double treated or replaced.
Ironically, I've had a buyer dragging an oxygen tank buy a house I would not enter.

I have found including the phrase 'smoker friendly'  in the description avoids a lot of insulting comments from unsuspecting buyers. 

Let's not forget the cat house, the crack house, the abandoned house with stuff growing in the unseen places and my all time favorite, the repurposed chicken coop. When it rains you could tell it was a chicken coop but it looked really cool from the country road.
  • March 28
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You don't paint real wood paneling, nor do you paint acoustic ceilings (if you can avoid it), nor do you typically paint T-bar.  And the nicotine is coated behind the paneling and on other surfaces anyway.

Painting alone will NOT mitigate cigarette smoke.  I am constantly reminded of that going into several different homes.

15 year old carpet?  I've seen some collector rugs that are over 200 years old that are in substantially better condition than some people's 2 year old carpets.  Age is not the only factor.  But if a smoker was in the place, it "needs to go", unless it is a collectible antique, in which case a C02 cleaning method might be the most appropriate.
  • March 28
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Yep. If the place hasn't been painted in 15 years, I don't think we're going to get it painted, either!

Wood smoke never does seems to be a problem, though.
  • March 28
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"Y'know, even Real Estate Professionals can't get people to quit smoking." -

If it was a "rental", or the owner/occupant stopped smoking 15 years ago, or it was the prior owner that smoked, getting people to stop smoking wouldn't address the issue anyway... the "damage" still needs to be mitigated.
  • March 27
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Wood stoves are an entirely different issue.  If the flue worked properly, the cleaning should be reasonably confined to the kitchen stove area.

We took out the wood stove a number of years ago, and after painting the kitchen and doing the cabinets and replacing the floor, there seems to be no issues from the prior stove.  If vented properly, it should be no substantial difference than a fire place.  I also cleaned the fireplace and installed a gas log to keep from having to clean again.  Had a professional chimney person inspect the chimney, re-line the chimney, install hoods and screens on the chimney, and added a damper for when not in use.

I helped a friend clean up fire damage in their home a number of years ago.  That was an entirely different issue again.  That is a problem much worse than any smoking I've ever seen.  Even with protective masks and clothing, I don't want to be in that kind of environment any longer than necessary.

Nicotine smell always seems to come back in high humidity.  I've never had that issue with pine, oak, ceder, spruce, plum, citrus, walnut, pecan, elm, camphor,...
  • March 27
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- If your agent can't help you get it ready for market and address all curb appeal and first impressions issues, what good is the agent?

Y'know, even Real Estate Professionals can't get people to quit smoking.

- It would be nice to know how much it would cost to professionally mitigate per square foot . . . 

I agree. I have seen several proposals, all with different approaches and none with any measurable effective record.
  • March 27
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Do all the same cleaning requirements apply to homes with wood stoves?  I have been in more then a few and they stink too.
  • March 27
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It would be nice to know how much it would cost to professionally mitigate per square foot, including replacing all carpeting and drapes, scrubbing and painting all walls, doors and ceilings and using a Kills or similar paint, and having any acoustic tiles, panels or ceilings treated with CO2.  And of course scrubbing all counters, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, windows, mirrors.... with appropriate cleaners and methods (dish-washing soap in hot water...)  It would also be nice to know what they do for wall and ceiling insulation.  And what about wall paneling?  I addition to cleaning, one needs to take it down, clean and paint behind, then reinstall the paneling.

Isn't the "real" cost to the "seller" the cost to remove all signs of any smoke prior to putting it on the market?

If your agent can't help you get it ready for market and address all curb appeal and first impressions issues, what good is the agent?
  • March 27
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I'm sure you're aware that tobacco smoking is bad for your health. In fact, according to the American heart Association, 24 percent of men and 21 percent of women in the U.S. are habitual smokers. But did you know that it's also very bad for selling your house?

Smoking in a home could lower the value of property as much as 29 percent according to a recent survey of Ontario real estate agents and brokers, sponsored by Pfizer Canada.

COULDN'T WAIT TO EXIT

As a matter of fact,  just the other day I happened to be showing a nice home in a Brevard County beachside community that had a very offensive smoke smell throughout.  To make it even worse, the seller had incense sticks burning to mask the smell.  Actually I believe the incense made the offensive odor even worse.

The first comment my buyer made to me was, "Yuck! Someone likes to smoke in here." She continued by saying that it would be very hard to get all of the smell out of the home. This being said, my buyer and I couldn't wait to exit.

So sad to see such a nice house ruined.

MORE REASON TO QUIT SMOKING – AT LEAST IN YOUR HOME

Almost half (44 percent) of the real estate agents and brokers surveyed said smoking in the home affects resale value. Of these, one-in-three (32 percent) said smoking in the home may lower the value by 10-19 percent and a further one-in-three (32 percent) said it may lower the value by 20-29 percent.

An overwhelming majority of Ontario real estate agents and brokers (88 percent) said it's more difficult to sell a home where owners have smoked. More than half (56 percent) said most buyers are less likely to purchase a home where people have smoked, and 27 percent went further and said most buyers are actually unwilling to buy a home where people have smoked.

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  • March 27
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That's a good point, wetdawgs. If you're trying to hide the smell, then I do think you should disclose it.
  • March 26
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"If they ask about it, don't lie. It would probably be in your best interest to never have to answer that question though."   My humble opinion is that this question should be on the list of property disclosures.  

  • March 26
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The nicotine smell will still come right back when the humility is high.  Painting may help; but you still need to remove all fabrics.  Likely it is in the carpet padding too.  It may even have gotten into the wall and ceiling insulation.

It is a major problem even if properly cleaned and addressed.

(And scented candles don't help; all it does is make it smell like someone is trying to hide something).
  • March 26
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Hello there,

I would encourage any smokers that are planning on listing their homes to start doing the following at least 2 months prior to any showings:

1) Stop smoking indoors!
2) Pick up any cigarette butts that may be lying around inside or outside the house
3) Have ALL carpets cleaned
4) Light a candle inside the house every single day for 2 weeks straight (use caution)
5) Open the windows in your home 2-3 hours at a time, every day for a week to get rid of any smoke smells

It's all about making sure that a potential buyer isn't greeted with cigarette butts and cigarette odor when they come to see your home. If they ask about it, don't lie. It would probably be in your best interest to never have to answer that question though. Hope this helps!
  • March 26
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
I suspect in addition to market value, it decreases the number of people who will even consider purchasing the home and the time to sell
  • March 26
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