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Smoking Indoors Can Devalue Your Home by 29%!

April 19, 2013
3 mins
Man in denim jacket on his mobile phone somewhere downtown

We know that smoking will cost you. Not only are cigarettes expensive, you’re more likely to suffer from a host of ailments and diseases up to and including cancer. You probably already know that being a smoker increases the cost of life insurance, but did you know that smoking indoors can actually lower the resale value of your property? That’s right – not only are you putting your loved ones at risk of second-hand smoke; you’re also decreasing your home’s property value.

Smoking Devalues Your Property’s Value

There are plenty of factors that can lower the value of your home, including your neighbourhood, swimming pools and railways, but smoking is often overlooked. However, lighting up and smoking indoors could lower your home’s resale value by up to 29%! In a recent survey of Ontario real estate agents and brokers, sponsored by Pfizer Canada, nearly half (44%) of respondents said smoking can lower a home’s resale value. Of those, a third (32%) said smoking can lower your home’s value by a modest 10%-19% and another third (32%) said it could lower your home’s value by a whopping 20%-29%.

With an average selling price of $564,793 in March 2013 in Ontario’s hottest market, Toronto, that could mean a loss of $163,781.27 – yikes!  If that figure doesn’t scare you into quitting smoking, I don’t know what will! At least smoke outdoors for benefit of your family and your biggest investment, your house.

Smoking Scares Away Buyers

If you’re selling your home your real estate agent has probably preached the importance of curb appeal, but what about once prospective buyers are inside? One whiff of the air and they’ll instantly know a smoker lives there. Forget the fire hydrant on the lawn or noisy public school across the street; smoking is a good way to turn away buyers the second they walk through the front door. You can spend thousands of dollars renovating and staging your home, but you could be wasting your money if you decide to smoke indoors.

The survey found nearly nine in 10 (88%) of Ontario real estate agents and brokers said it would be more challenging to sell a home where smokers reside. Worse yet, over half (56%) said buyers would be less likely to buy a home where people have a smoker and 27% said a home with smokers would actually be a deal-breaker. With 15% of homes of Canada residing to at least one smoker, there are sellers everywhere that could be putting their property value at risk.

Tips for Buyers on Warning Signs of Smoking

If you watch real estate shows like "Property Virgins" and "Income Property", you probably know to look beyond the cosmetics of a house. However, when it comes to smoking, cosmetics are very important. It can be nearly impossible to rid a house of the putrid odour of cigarettes. When you’re attending an open house there are a few warning signs you can look for. When you enter the front door you’ll probably be able to smell the odour of years of smoking. If that isn’t a clear giveaway, look for yellow stains on walls and carpets.  A home with a dehumidifier with a purification system could mean the seller is trying to hide the smell of cigarettes. A lack of working smoke detectors can also be a telltale sign.

What Smoking Sellers Can Do

If you smoke indoors it’s never too late to quit. If you’re not ready to quit, at least consider smoking outdoors. There are many benefits, including fresher and clearer air, curtains and furniture. While you can’t choose your home’s location, smoking indoors is your choice. Not only can smoking devalue your house, but you’re also putting your house at risk of a house fire if you fall asleep with a lit cigarette in your hand.

Sean Cooper

Sean Cooper is the author of the new book, Burn Your Mortgage. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Financial Journalist, Speaker and Money Coach, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Tangerine: Forward Thinking blog and TheDot. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanCooperWrite.

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