After years of school programs and radio ads, it’s common knowledge that cigarette smoke is bad for your health. However, it’s an addictive habit that many people have difficulty kicking. This is especially true for older generations who have smoked for the majority of their lives.

Two decades ago, it was completely normal for a restaurant hostess to ask if you’d prefer a seat in the smoking or non-smoking section. Smoking indoors is now banned in most public places, but this doesn’t mean homeowners have stopped smoking in their own homes.

What they may not realize is that they’re doing more damage to their wallets each year. This isn’t just because of the rising cost of cigarettes. It’s also because of the smoke damage done to the home.

Puffing Away at the Resale Value

One Canadian poll found that slightly less than half of all real estate agents said smoking reduces a home’s value. Among those who gave that answer, the exact value reduction ranged from 10-29%. Additionally, they noted that a quarter of buyers are unwilling to buy a smoker’s home.

It is very difficult to hide when a smoker lived in a home. Even air freshener, opening the windows and simmering vinegar won’t fully neutralize the smell.

When a nonsmoker is buying a home, they don’t want to expose themselves to the toxic thirdhand smoke (yes, it’s a thing) left by previous owners. Chemical compounds stick to carpets, walls, ceilings, electrical sockets, ventilation ducts, etc. The new homeowners would have to either clean or replace everything to fully get the smell and chemicals out of the house. For serious jobs, the cost could be between $1,500 and $10,000 for a professional cleaning.

Some homeowners may be tempted to paint over the smoke damage, but that isn’t a permanent solution. To prevent the tars and nicotine from resurfacing on the walls and ceiling, they must be thoroughly cleaned and repainted. A good primer like Killz is recommended for the best results. And that is just for the walls and ceiling, not considering the other home surfaces that were affected by smoke.

As a real estate professional, it’s important to keep this information in the back of your mind. Even an otherwise solid property could be tough to sell because of lingering residue from cigarette smoke. As a selling agent, you should be prepared to list the house accordingly and target the right potential buyers.