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Buying and Selling a House with Cigarette Smoke

The percent of the population that smokes has significantly declined over the years. This bodes well for our nation’s overall health, but it makes it harder to sell houses that have been smoked in. According to Realtor Magazine, studies indicate that smoking can decrease the resale value of a house by up to 29%. In one survey, 56% of real estate agents reported that buyers are less likely to buy a house that’s been smoked in, while 27% said most of their buyers flat-out refuse to consider it. To mitigate the effects of cigarette smoke on the buying or selling process, here are some factors to consider when dealing with a smoker’s house.


Buying a House with Cigarette Smoke:

The presence of cigarette smoke in the house complicates the buying process. Smoked-in houses are not always complete lost causes, but they do incur more risks and negotiation if you decide to buy one.

The Smell

Two main compounds in cigarette smoke are resin and tar, which leave behind a filmy, odorous residue on walls, ceilings, light bulbs, furniture, etc. that lasts for months or more. Porous materials such as carpet, fabric, and walls absorb smoke especially well.

Either you or the seller will need to invest time and money into serious cleaning and/or replacements. You’ll have to be sure about whose responsibility that is and negotiate pricewise accordingly.

Health Risks

Smoking in a house leads to thirdhand smoke (THS). THS is when the chemicals released into the air by cigarettes coats walls, flooring, countertops, and other home surfaces. This film contains carcinogens and can damage DNA or cause cancer, asthma, headaches, nausea, and fatigue.  Children and pets are especially vulnerable to health risks associated with THS because they spend more time on the floor close to the accumulated chemicals. THS is difficult to remove completely and may linger for months despite thorough deep cleaning.


A house that has been smoked in can’t really be called move-in ready, unless the seller has already done an adequate amount of cleaning to remove smoke odor and damage. Keep in mind that the deep-cleaning process will take a significant amount of time, energy, and money before you can effectively move in. Sometimes cleaning is not enough to remove odors and might require repainting and replacing carpet or other porous materials.


Selling a House with Cigarette Smoke:

There’s a couple options for you as the seller to make a smoked-in house more attractive to buyers.

Lower the Asking Price

If you don’t want to handle the cleaning and repairs associated with getting rid of heavy smoke smell, you can still list and sell your home as is—just be prepared for a considerate reduction in price buyers are willing to pay.

Sell to a Cash Home Buyer

Again, selling to a cash home buyer will significantly decrease the amount you will receive for your house, but it is an option. It can be easier than trying to convince a buyer to buy a smoke-damaged home as is, and it also speeds up the selling process.

Clean, Clean, and Clean Some More

Trying to get rid of cigarette smoke smell in a home is a looming task, but it can be done (or at least significantly reduced). Starting points for this include leaving windows open to air out the house, scrubbing walls and hard surfaces, washing carpets and curtains, and changing lightbulbs. Substance like vinegar for hard surfaces and baking soda for carpet and fabrics can help eliminate odors. Be sure to use an air purifier while completing these tasks, as dust and fine particles will be released as you clean. For more tips on how to remove smoke odors, visit our friends at Realtor.com and HomeGo.


Overall, cigarette smoke in a home does present complications, but it doesn’t make buying or selling impossible. As your realtors, we’ll also do everything we can to help support and guide you during the process.