Your search results

Real Estate Smoke Signals

Posted by admin on March 14, 2016
| 0

If all the dire warnings about your health haven’t motivated you to quit smoking, perhaps a reality check about the likelihood of selling your home while it smells of cigarettes will do the trick.

People in the Real Estate industry might want to take a longer, harder look at the buying and selling of smokers’ homes. We all know that the foul smell of a home will immediately turn almost any buyer around. But there is a term that a lot of people aren’t familiar with: third-hand smoke. This term basically sums up the long-term effects of smoking that has found it’s way into every crack and crevice of a smoker’s home. Several studies suggest that smoking could reduce a home’s resale value by tens of thousands of dollars. Real estate agents are often told that having a regular smoker in a home can reduce its value by 20 percent, on average. That’s A LOT of money!

Real estate agents know that it’s more difficult to sell homes where the residents are smokers. How bad does it affect the price? Calculating such financial effects is a tricky thing, smells of any kind like pets, dampness, even a homeowner’s weird habit for garlic, certainly could affect its sale price, though there’s no solid formula for appraisers to follow regarding those issues. How do you measure the foul odor factor in specific numerical terms? I challenge anyone to find a way. I’ve been in homes where people only smoke outside or in the garage, you can walk through a home and not suspect anything, then get to the garage, and it’s really overwhelming.

We’ve become familiar with the concept of second-hand smoke over the last 10 years, we know it as the mixture of exhaled smoke and the other dirty fumes that enter the air from the end of a lit cigarette. Health effects aside, it’s a concern that has manifested itself in real estate terms, in apartment and condo buildings where residents find themselves inadvertently inhaling it via shared ventilation and heating systems and seepage through walls. Some landlords, including some of the nation’s largest ones, have banned smoking because of it. I don’t blame them and I wouldn’t want to live in a building where people smoke indoors. It is affecting rentals as well due to that fact.

Third-hand smoke is what lingers after secondhand smoke has cleared out. It is the noxious residue of cigarette gasses and particles that settle on rugs, curtains, and other surfaces of a room. Including the walls and ceiling. Third-hand smoke has long been suspected as a carcinogen, or cancer causing agent. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California claimed that they have shown that third-hand smoke causes significant damage to human cells. It’s carcinogenic, they say, and humans can be exposed to it through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. “Tobacco-specific
nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in third-hand smoke, are among the most potent carcinogens there are,” Lara Gundel, a Berkeley Lab scientist and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “They stay on surfaces, and when those surfaces are clothing or carpets, the danger to children is especially serious.”

The researchers, whose work was published in the medical journal Mutagenesis, went on to point out that third-hand smoke is extremely difficult to eradicate.

Is a house that a smoker lived in going to always be an issue though? Is there anyway to “cleanse” it? Is it something that someone should have to disclose by law? The best solution offered is to substitute materials, such as changing out the carpet and repainting. Clearly, there’s much more study of third-hand smoke to be done. But I’ve been in real estate long enough to recall when lawsuits over houses that were infested with mold, even as the medical effects of the fungus were disputed, exploded and caused some disclosures to be mandatory in California. The lawsuits have largely abated due to the self-protective actions of property insurers, the effects live on: Today, if you sell your home in California or several other states, you’ll have to sign a mold-disclosure form, in addition to fessing up about your knowledge of the presence of such scary stuff as radon, asbestos and lead paint in the house.

Might smoking make the list too? My opinion is that is should. We should have the right to know if a smoker inhabited a house for years. Especially if studies show that it can adversely affect our health or the health of our children.

Leave a Reply

Compare Listings