Lighting up can send sale up in smoke
This week Anna Maria Island will be up in smoke, and I don’t mean just the smoke from the July 4th fireworks. As incredible as it seems to non-smokers and despite the well publicized medical reasons against smoking revealed during the past 30 plus years, people still smoke. If you smoke within the four walls of your home that, of course, is your business, but be forewarned – selling a property where the residents were smokers can be the difference between sale and no sale.
Non smoking rules have saturated every part of our daily lives. Starting with the workplace and migrating to restaurants, bars and even some outdoor spaces, we’ve all become accustomed to not smelling smoke. This makes selling a property which has even the faintest of tobacco odor in it classified as a stigmatized property. Some people just don’t want to live in a place where others have smoked.
The desirability of non-smoking homes have become more of an issue in the past 15 to 20 years since smoking restrictions have been in place, making smokers and non-smokers alike more sensitive to tobacco smoke. In addition, in an effort to be environmentally sensitive, homes are built tighter and more energy efficient today than the older draftier houses where we were accustomed to windows regularly being opened.
According to the EPA any place where people have been smoking habitually for a while will have tobacco tars and nicotine on room surfaces, including ventilation ducts. Unless surfaces are washed and then painted, there will be out-casting or re-emission of tobacco tars and nicotine from surfaces to which they have adhered In addition, the interior of ventilation ducts are rarely treated to remove the byproducts of smoke residue and will inevitably remain contaminated.
And don’t think that incense, candles or fresh baked cookies will disguise the fact that a smoker lives in the house. Currently there are no requirements that sellers or their representatives, disclose that the residents smoked inside their home, however, home inspectors are frequently asked to verify if this is the case. Also, the cost of cleaning out the last whiff of smoke can be costly and involve new paint, carpeting, light fixtures and even kitchen appliances.
A recent survey by The Woolwich, a mortgage banker in the United Kingdom, found that 28 percent of buyers would pass on a property if the sellers smoked. And that three-quarters of those interviewed would refuse to pay the full asking price for the home of a smoker, while 59 percent said they would make an offer that was 10 percent less than the asking price.
This is becoming such a hot topic that in New York City, one of the bastions of free thinking, entire residential buildings are becoming non-smoking. Co-op boards are denying new applicants if they are smokers or are requiring existing owners who smoke to ventilate their apartments or plug holes to protect their neighbors.
The bottom line is that smoking can affect the aesthetic value of a home, whether or not it sells and how long it will take to sell. If you want to maximize the sale of your property make sure it doesn’t smell like the inside of some of the establishments you would rather not admit you once frequented. In a real estate market that is less than stellar, having a serious objection to your home can make a sale literally go up in smoke.