Tough Sale When You Smell – Avoid Smoke at All Costs

Smells Don’t Sell

{[}] {[}]{[}]We’ve written often about staging a home to sell, how to make minor changes to showcase your home in the best light possible and create a great first impression for home buyers when you put your home on the market to sell. But while recently showing homes to a home buyer, it occurred to me that we had not talked about one of the most important aspects of preparing your home to sell – its smell.when selling your home get rid of smells{[}]{[}]Just like with personal grooming, you don’t go to work, out on a date or to meet friends when you smell, you don’t want to have a smelly on the market, it will cost you money. So if you think how your home smells does not affect its marketability, shake yourself until reality sinks in. Then, read on…{[}]{[}](Editor’s note): If you don’t have any smokers in your home, can certainly read on but you can also skip the rest of this post and check back in a few days to learn about other smelly “no – no’s” for home sellers in Tough Sale When You Smell – Food Odors to Avoid.{[}]

Sorry Smokers

{[}] {[}]{[}]Let’s get the obvious out of the way.  If someone in your household smokes heavily in the house, you’ve got some work to do. In all my years of working with home buyers, I can’t recall ever selling a home where it was obvious that a heavy smoker had lived there and smoked in the house. In fact, the most frequent reaction to a smoky home is for the home buyer to turn around and walk out of the smelly home right at the front door.{[}]

Every Home Buyer Has a Smoke Detector

{[}] {[}]{[}]Confession time here. I grew up around a smoker but never smoked myself. And I have a finely tuned smoke detector, my nose. I have nothing against smokers, I just know their homes are harder to sell. Several years ago, a very good repeat client of mine wanted to sell her home to downsize and move closer to her new grandchild. I knew she was a heavy smoker so I had some dread about what I would encounter when seeing her home. When I went out to check out her home, she had done a great job decorating and the house was in really good shape. But there was a smell, though not overwhelming. I said Jane (not her real name), “We’ve got to talk about your smoking while your home is on the market.” Jane seemed a little offended, “I have never smoked in this home!” I responded, “I understand, but there is a strong smoke odor in your master closet from your clothes.”{[}]

What To Do?

{[}] {[}]{[}]Fortunately in “Jane’s” case, the smoky smell was limited to her walk-in closet and she was able to virtually eliminate the odor once she was made aware of it. And we quickly sold her great home and found her another. But keep in mind that your home can smell in ways that you are not aware of, so even smoking in the garage is not a great idea. If you must smoke, go outside and empty your ashtray daily in the outside garbage can.{[}]{[}]But what if you have smoked in the home, what are your options? First, ask an independent non-smoker to come over and give you a frank reality check. When you live in a home, you get acclimated to its smells, whatever they are. This goes for pet owners too, more on that in a future post…{[}]{[}]So, if you have a smoky home, my first and cheapest suggestion is to look into remediation. There are remediation companies that have machinery that will get most, if not all, of the smell out of your home if the smell is not overwhelming. Then you must stop smoking in the house or you’re right back where you started. If the problem is more extreme, the solution might also be more extreme. I’ve even been in homes where the walls had “soot” on them from heavy smoking. The reality is if you have a home like this and want to get a fair market offer on the home, be prepared to paint the entire home and replace the carpets and carpet pad. While I realize this sounds extreme, just remember this cardinal rule when selling a home: All buyers overestimate the cost of major work that needs to be done on your home. Meaning, if a home buyer gets past the front door of your home and considers making an offer on your home, they will likely overestimate the cost of paint and carpet by 50 – 100%. So if you can get new carpet and paint for 10K (good luck with that), count on the buyer discounting your home’s value by at least 15 – 20K, if not more.{[}]

The Final Word

{[}] {[}]{[}]Again, I have no issue with smokers and I didn’t intend for this post to seem negative, but part of our job when working with home sellers is to tell the truth, to be frank with our sellers and to give our professional opinion, even when the news is hard to deliver.  So please take our advice as the constructive criticism it is and not as a personal attack. And check back soon as we’ll talk more about the smells to avoid when selling your home.{[}]{[}] 

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