May 31 is World No Tobacco Day – a day to promote awareness of the dangers of smoking and inspire smokers to kick the habit. While we all know that smoking is hazardous to our health, did you know that it could also be detrimental when it comes to selling your home?
Globally, the research is in – and it confirms that smoking can make it harder for homeowners to sell.
In 2013, pharmaceutical company Pfizer sponsored a survey of 401 real estate agents, and the majority reported that homes that had been smoked in were significantly more difficult to sell than non-smokers homes (1). The same study found that 56% of buyers were less likely to buy a home that was owned by a smoker, and 27% were unwilling to even consider buying such a property.
Your home’s value may be going up in smoke, too
The Pfizer survey also revealed that smoking inside a property could reduce its value by a whopping amount – up to 29%. In a similar study, 76% of agents confirmed that they would expect a home to sell below its market value if the current owners were smokers(2).
What’s more, in the UK, a study by property website Globrix.com found 24% of homebuyers would expect a discount on the purchase price if the sellers had smoked inside (3).
But why does smoking drive buyers away?
The damaging effects of smoking are not limited to the human body. Smoking inside a property causes staining to the walls, carpets and window furnishings, and leaves an odour that is difficult to ever fully eliminate.
Even extensive vacuuming, dusting and wiping is unlikely to rid the home of these smells and stains, with many buyers finding the only solution is to completely replace affected carpets and curtains – at considerable cost.
The dangers of third-hand smoke
On the health side of things, we all know that smoking is bad for us, but property buyers may also be concerned about the health impacts your smoking could have on them.
Alarmingly, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have found that the “third-hand smoke” that remains trapped in fabrics and carpets contains 11 carcinogenic chemicals, including arsenic, butane and hydrogen cyanide (4). These chemicals can cause damage to human cells upon ingestion, inhalation or skin contact, making smokers’ homes a potential health hazard for new owners.
What about investment properties?
If you’re a landlord, ensuring your tenants don’t smoke inside could be key to preserving the value of your investment property. Having a smoking clause in the lease is worth considering, with clear stipulations on where smoking is permitted (if at all) and penalties for failing to observe these conditions.
If you’ve engaged the services of a property manager they should check for obvious signs of smoking at routine inspections.
Tips for buyers and sellers
For buyers, evidence of indoor smoking should be pretty obvious when you enter a property – look for yellow stains on walls and curtains, discarded butts, and scorch marks on surfaces. Disabled smoke alarms can be other tell-tale sign.
If you’re a smoker who is trying to sell your home, plan to undertake thorough cleaning of all walls, carpets, window coverings and surfaces, as well as your own furniture, to remove as much odour and staining as possible.
Once the property has been cleaned, you should quit smoking inside – or better yet, quit altogether! (For advice and support on quitting smoking, call the Quitline on 137848 or check out the Quit website). By cutting back on cigarettes, not only will your health improve, but you’ll also save a small fortune, which will come in handy when you eventually sell and move. In the meantime, be sure to quarantine your smoking away from the area’s you’ve freshened up.
Smoking isn’t the only potential deal-breaker when it comes to real estate: check out some of the other common mistakes made in the property game >>
- Pfizer Canada (2013), Quit to List Survey of real estate agents and brokers.
- Leger Research Intelligence Group (2015), Facts on second hand smoke in condos and apartments, commissioned by Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation.
- Globrix.com (2011).
- 4. Hang et al (2013), ‘Thirdhand smoke causes DNA damage in human cells’, Mutagenesis 28(4): 381-391.