Smoking reduces home values
By: David Fleming

You can throw your smokey clothes into the washing machine, but how can you get the stink out of an entire house?

Research shows: buyers aren’t interested anyways…

“Smoking Reduces House Values By 30%, Realtor Survey Suggests
By: The Canadian Press
April 17th, 2013

Homeowners risk coughing up big bucks if they’re also smokers, a survey of Ontario real estate agents and brokers suggests.

The survey suggested that smoking in the home can reduce the value of a resale property by up to 29 per cent.

The study was sponsored by Pfizer Canada, a pharmaceutical company whose products include a smoking cessation medication.

It estimates a potential loss of up to $107,000 on a home in Ontario, where the average price is currently around $369,000.

The study showed that an overwhelming majority of 401 real estate agents and brokers surveyed agreed that it is more difficult to sell a home where owners have smoked.

1/4 unwilling to buy a smoker’s home
More than half of respondents — 56 per cent — said most buyers are less likely to purchase a home where people have smoked, and 27 per cent said most buyers are actually unwilling to buy a home where people have smoked.

In Canada, an estimated 15 per cent of homes have at least one regular smoker.

The study found that almost half, or 44 per cent of respondents, said smoking in the home affects resale value.

Of these, one in three said smoking in the home may lower the value by 10 to 19 per cent and a further one in three said it may lower the value by 20 to 29 per cent.

“Smoking has a profound impact on how appealing a home is to a prospective buyer,” said David Visentin, a real estate agent and co-host of the W Network’s Love it or List program.

“It stains walls and carpets, and leaves a smell that can be hard to eliminate. Many prospective buyers are really put off by homes that have been smoked in and they can be very challenging to sell.”

The survey was conducted between Jan 31 and Feb. 6 and is considered by the pollsters to be accurate 19 times out of 20 within a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Do people really still smoke?
That’s soooooo 1962!

I actually had this conversation with a friend the other night. I asked, “Do people still smoke?  I mean, in today’s world of pilates, Moksha yoga, gluten-free-this, soy-that, body-cleanse-diets; how many people still smoke?”

A lot, apparently!

“Drive by a construction site,” I told my friend, “And there’s your smokers!  Those guys all have a dart hanging off their bottom lip!  But who else?”

Okay, so I’m a bit of an elitist sometimes. And I’m told I like to generalize too.

In 1965, a whopping 61% of men, and 38% of women in Canada smoked.
In 1999, 25% of all Canadians smoked.
In 2012, 17% of all Canadians smoked.

This, according to the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey.

So the numbers are down, but people still do it.

And there is no tougher sell in all of real estate (fine, maybe a house with dead bodies…) than grandma and grandpa’s home where about 100,000 cancer-sticks have been lit over the past four decades. There’s no mistaking that feeling, and nothing compares. Picture a house filled with cats, or dirty shag carpet, or a hoarder’s wares – nothing compares to the cigarette-house.

We’re almost at the point now where the house needs to be torn down, because even if you can get rid of the stench, the “feel,” and everything inside the home, buyers just don’t like idea of living there.

Many of my buyers get turned off if they even smell cigarettes!  “Oh, a smoker lives here for sure,” they’ll tell me, as they mentally discount the property, and in many cases, disqualify it.

To a non-smoker, the smell of smoke is one that offends the senses the most, and many buyers just can’t make that compromise.

Maybe it’s a personality clash as well. I was kidding around when I talked about construction workers and smoking, but some people, in today’s super-health-conscious 2013, want absolutely nothing to do with a smoker’s house or condo, as it feels somewhat “beneath them.”

This goes beyond the subtle, competitive battle that buyers wage with the home-owners when they compare university diplomas, photos of good looking boyfriends & girlfriends, or the brand-name labels in the closet. This is about lifesytle, health, and I might even say one’s self-image.

I’m not projecting, here. I’m speaking from experience with active buyers, and I think that the survey in the article above backs me up rather nicely.

I’ve only once had to sell a hard-core smoker’s property.

It was a condo in the east-end, and the sellers had been there for about 11-years.

The carpet, walls, and furniture had soaked up a decade’s-worth of Camel’s and Matinee Ultra’s, and I told the sellers, point-blank, “This is not going to be an easy sell.”

The sellers disagreed, as most would, and suggested, “Buyers can see past this. They can wash the walls, shampoo the carpets, and bring in their own stuff. They won’t care.”

Oh yes, they would. In fact, they did.

This was an 1,100 square foot condo that sold for $362,000. And we’re talking about three years ago!

The buyer completely gutted the place – ripped out just about everything he was allowed to. He removed all the carpet and under-padding, all the light fixtures, the appliances, doors, and even shelving in the closets.

And then he brought in a company that specializes in removing smokey-odours, and they washed every square inch of the walls and ceilings, twice.

If that condo hadn’t been home to a smoker, it would have sold for over $400,000, no questions asked. In fact, with a little staging and TLC, I would have listed it at $429,900. Maybe that’s not the 30% that the above article suggests, but it’s a pretty big chunk of change for the average condo seller!

In the end, we’re all big boys and big girls, and we make our decisions accordingly.

But I can’t remember the last time I was over at somebody’s house or condo and a guest was smoking on the couch in the living room, as opposed to the back deck, balcony, or out on the street…

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