Smoking Indoors Can Massively Reduce a Home's Value

After months of searching for the perfect home, you finally find one that checks all the boxes: great location, lots of curb appeal, and a price that seems too good to be true! In fact, it isn't until the front door swings open and you catch a whiff of cigarettes that you realize why the price is so low. Rates of smoking may have fallen dramatically in the last several decades, but there are still thousands of hopeful buyers who encounter this exact situation every year. According to the CDC, 14% of U.S. adults were active smokers in 2017, which means that there are about 34 million potential home sellers who could be lighting up right now. If you are one of these smokers, you might be interested in learning just how much smoking inside reduces the resale value of your home. Plus, this post lists some of the methods that smokers and nonsmokers alike might want to employ in an attempt to rid their home of that distinctive smell.

In real estate terms, what is the cost of smoking in a home? One survey of Canadian real estate agents found that 87% believed the habit reduced a home's value. The most commonly-reported amount of value lost was 20-29%, with some agents reporting a value reduction of over 30%. Using June's median existing-home price of $285,700, a 25% reduction in value translates to a loss of over $71,000!

Perhaps even more importantly, 27% of agents reported that most buyers are flat-out unwilling to purchase a smoker's home at all. This means that smoking in your home loses you a huge amount of resale value and makes it harder to sell your home in general.

For those buyers who do end up buying a smoked-in home, it can seem nearly impossible to completely remove the smoky smell from their new residence. Here are some steps to take to try to banish it once and for all:

  • Have the air ducts professionally cleaned
  • Change the HVAC filter often
  • Clean the HVAC evaporator coil
  • Wash all floors, carpets, windows, curtains, walls, and ceilings (smoke rises after all)
  • If any fabrics still smell, replace them
  • If walls and ceiling still smell, try repainting them using an odor-neutralizing primer
  • Change light bulbs, which can release smoky residue as they get hot
  • Purchase an indoor air purifier

If you still detect smoke coming from air vents, then you can consider replacing the entire HVAC system as a last resort. Check out Realtor.com for more advice on banishing smoky smells from your home.