How Cigarette Smoke Can Kill Your Property’s Resale Value

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.

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I originally discussed this topic on my blog at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

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Tips for Interior Painting

Painting a home’s interior make a dramatic improvement in how the room looks. Making the decision to paint is a simple one, but painting the wrong way result in a complete mess. To avoid mistakes, there are certain things you can do to ensure that your painting job turns out perfectly the first time.

Mix multiple cans of paint into one large container

The exact same paint color can vary from can to can. This means that when you finish with one can of paint, the contents of the next can look slightly different, creating an uneven look on the wall. In order to avoid this issue, pour several cans of paint into one large container. Mix it all together, and you’ll end up with a uniform, consistent color that is ready to be spread over large surfaces.

Prep your walls thoroughly by cleaning them before you begin painting

A dirty, dusty wall will lead to a dirty, dusty paint job. In addition, paint does not adhere properly to dirty walls. In order to make sure that your newly painted walls are pristine, clean them before you begin painting. Remove dirt, grime, scuff marks on walls and baseboards with a cloth and warm soapy water. Use a mop to get into hard-to-reach corners of the ceiling, removing cobwebs and dust. A diluted vinegar solution can be used to wipe any residue off the walls, usually causing no damage.

Prepping for painting may take a bit more time and effort, but doing so can help ensure that you end up with professional-looking, beautiful results.

For more on smoothing wall imperfections and picking a good primer, see JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Tips for Building Your Perfect Privacy Fence

If you have a yard but live in close proximity to your neighbors, a privacy fence could give your outdoor space the peace and seclusion you’re looking for. Any chain link fence would keep your pets safe and give them a place to roam free, but a privacy fence adds a level of sophistication. The right privacy fence could give your yard the backdrop for an outdoor sanctuary of your dreams.

Primary Materials

There are numerous options for your privacy fence, but it boils down a handful of options for your primary material. These are wood, vinyl, masonry, composite or vegetation. Each has their own pros and cons based on cost, maintenance and aesthetic appeal.

Wood

Wooden fences are a classic option for privacy fences. They’re generally affordable for most homeowners. The cost varies depending on the quality level of the wood you purchase, but good sealant and proper installation is key regardless of what wood you purchase. Because of the nature of wood, you can paint or stain the wood any shade you choose. For a uniform look and quicker installation, you could purchase wood panels so your fence is partially pre-assembled upon arrival. Or, you could buy your own wood to create your own personalized fence with some design flexibility.

The biggest drawback of a wooden fence is that it requires yearly maintenance. It will need to be re-stained or refinished with sealant that protects from UV rays and water damage. Otherwise, the wood could rot, warp or fall victim to fungus. If you’re buying the wood or panels from a hardware store, you should also sort through to ensure you’re buying the best of the bunch. Look for pieces that are already warped or misshapen and avoid picking them for your project.

One pro tip for the craftier of homeowners: use recycled wood! If you can find pallets, mismatched wood, and other materials at a cheap price, you could use your creativity to turn it into a unique masterpiece. With poor craftsmanship, it could turn into a mess. However, when these fences are done properly, they create an artsy, rustic space that is perfect for some homeowners’ styles. Pinterest has some great inspiration for creative privacy fences.

Vinyl

Vinyl fences are an alternative to the look of standard wood. The fences are usually white, gray or cream-colored, providing a neutral backdrop for your outdoor area. They’re resilient to termite damage, fungus and dry rot. Cleaning is a breeze because they can easily be sprayed off to remove dirt and grime. Installation is also reportedly very easy. The biggest disadvantage is the cost. The initial investment is higher than that of a wooden fence. The material can also become distorted with extreme temperatures or wind.

Vegetation

If you live in an area with the proper climate, a living vegetation fence could be a great option for privacy. A wall of columnar evergreens at the edge of your property adds life to the space while providing a visual barrier to passersby. Tall hedges are another great option. These fences are also usually unrestricted by local bylaws and building codes that limit the height of a fence on residential property. If the upkeep of natural vegetation is too time-consuming for your lifestyle, you might also consider artificial hedge paneling for your fencing needs.

Composite

Composite fences are visually similar to wood fences, but require less maintenance and hold up better over time. The only downside is that they are far more costly.

Bamboo

Bamboo is another great alternative because it is tough, grows quickly and can withstand most temperatures and treatments. For environmentally-friendly homeowners, these fences are a great option. If you frame the bamboo sections with black metal, it adds a sophistication to your yard that is hard to replicate with other materials.

Stone, Brick or Concrete

For homeowners who want a unique design with maximum privacy and security, they may consider a fence made of stone, brick or concrete. Concrete is the cheapest of the three options, but stone and brick fences look more natural in some landscapes. With a high enough fence, it is nearly impossible for intruders or unwanted animal guests to break into your private space. These fences are also extremely durable and require little maintenance.

Additional Considerations

Before you start your fencing project, be sure that you’re confident about your property line. If you build your fence on a neighbor’s property, it could result in a tedious legal battle and ultimately removal of your fence.

If you’re not confident in your ability to build a fence on your own, consult a local contractor or landscaper. They will be familiar with your area’s building codes and have the raw skills needed to get the job done right.

Carefully consider all your options before jumping into the project. With all the fence materials available, you can pick one or combine them to create a unique border for your space. Shop around for the best price and materials. If you’re choosing to outsource the job, consider the reputation of the workers you’re hiring.

A nice privacy fence is a big investment. In some cases, is better to save up for an end result you’ll be happy with instead of rushing for the quickest fix. If you need a barrier while saving for your dream fence, invest in a chain link fence for temporary use. They are cheap and easy to install in comparison to other fence types. They also sell slats for your chain link fence that would give you some additional privacy. This option isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the other options mentioned above, but it is a great choice for homeowners on a budget who want some privacy in their yard.

Best of luck with your new fence! If you have any additional tips, tell me in the comments or connect with me on social media.

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Jason Cohen (Pittsburgh) originally posted this content at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.