In nearly all cases, having a smoker in the house will make it more difficult to sell. The smell of stale tobacco is difficult to remove and turns off non-smoking buyers. On top of this, there are even health concerns related to re-emission of nicotine and tar from surfaces which have previously absorbed them.
The bottom line is that, if left untreated, it will likely take longer to sell a smoker's home, and you may well have to settle for a lower price to do so.
Steps Before a Showing
Whenever you show your home, you want to present it in the best possible light. The last thing you want is the smell of smoke hitting your buyers as they enter the front door. There's several ways to combat this situation:
- Stop smoking indoors: There's little point in cleaning the house if the smoke continues to be deposited. If smoking will still take place, it should at least be taken outside the house at least ten feet from any entrance.
- Place cups of white vinegar behind the couch: The vinegar absorbs odors, and putting it behind the couch keeps them out of view.
- Offer pleasant smells: Bake a batch of cookies. Burn incense. Anything attractive that can cover the smell of smoke. Don't overdo it, however, or your visitors will be overwhelmed by the new smells you’ve presented.
- Clean and vacuum: Wash the walls. Wash or dry clean the drapes. Dust upholstered furniture with carpet cleaner and vacuum with an upholstery attachment.
- Remove ashtrays: An ashtray is going to give away the nature of your house even if you've done a tremendous job neutralizing odors. Don't let viewers see them.
Long Term Solutions
Tobacco byproducts such as nicotine and tar can seep deep into materials, infusing them with strong odors that are difficult to permanently dismiss. While the above suggestions will provide some measure of relief from cigarette smells, they may not be enough in some cases as pollutants continue to rise to the surface of cleaned items.
- Fabrics are the most susceptible materials to contaminants: A deep cleaning rug shampoo may well be required. Some sellers choose to tear up the carpets and replace it if they have such funds in the budget. Many homeowners do so when preparing a Calgary house for sale anyway, giving buyers an impression of cleanliness in both sight and smell.
- Likewise, fabric window treatments might be best destined for the trash: Buy something neutral that will match both your current furnishings and, hopefully, the furnishings of your buyer. Err on the side of lighter colours, as they accentuate the impression of space.
- New paint may be a necessity, but not before walls are scrubbed clean and then primed with a stain blocker: in the most affected homes, nicotine drips will have to first be scraped off the walls.
Sometimes the only answer is to bring in professional, heavy duty cleaners. It's rather expensive, but often less expensive than sitting on a house no one will make a reasonable offer for.
Problem Areas to Give Extra Attention When Eliminating Cigarette Odors
When it comes to eliminating the harsh scent of cigarettes from your home, you must focus on the carpets and other fabrics to make the biggest impact. Beyond the fabrics, turn your attention to the paint to see if it holds any odors inside.
You can have your carpets professionally cleaned to draw out the odors held deep within the carpet fibers and pad. The cleaning process should leave your home smelling fresh and ready for placement on the market upon completion. If you notice any lingering odors, turn your attention to the window treatments and any other fabrics still within the space. With the way cigarette odors cling to fabrics, you may be best to replace offensive window treatments rather than try to clean them up. You can also talk to your real estate agent about removing the window treatments completely, as is common when selling a home.
On white walls, you may see the damage caused by cigarette smoke, but it is not always visually apparent. If you have already painted the interior space, this is especially true, though heavy stains can seep through rather quickly. Unfortunately, cigarette odors can remain trapped inside unless you use a strong primer to seal in the bad smells and stains. You may even need to use two coats of primer to keep the cigarette odors and stains from seeping through the interior paint.
When you turn your attention to problem areas, you can eliminate cigarette odors from your home and keep them from impacting your sale. Without the odors in your home, you will have an easier time negotiating with buyers to reach your asking price or beyond.
You Can Still Sell Your Home Even With Indoor Smoking
Smoking indoors can significantly damage the value of your home. Pollutants contaminate everything, particularly fabrics, and are difficult if not impossible to remove. There are a variety of things you can do on the day of an open house, but it may only be a temporary solution. Thoroughly purging a house of these contaminants can be an extended and expensive process. The truth is houses typically sell quicker and for higher prices if they are smoke free. However, there are ways of recovering a home to sell at a good price. Ask your agent what else you should be doing to successfully sell your home.