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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How Crime Rates Affect the Real Estate Market

Many factors affect a potential homeowner’s decision to buy a house, but one of the most important is safety. Neighborhoods with low crime rate are much more attractive than those with a higher tendency for crime.

Crime and the Real Estate Market

Because housing markets fluctuate due to a plethora of different factors, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact role of crime rate in the overall health of a market. However, there is one common thread that was discovered in a 2010 study by researchers at Florida State University. They found that robbery and aggravated assault most highly influenced housing values across different neighborhoods. Another study from the University of Troy found that an area’s home prices fell 0.25% for every 1% increase in violent crime.

Another interesting trend is that sometimes crime rate in one city can affect the real estate prices in another. For example, if City A slashes their police force in half and crime rates rise, neighboring City B may experience a spike in home prices because of people moving to that city. This happened in California back in 2008.

Potential Homeowners

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It’s not uncommon for homeowners to research an area’s crime rate before house hunting in that region. They would rather know in advance than be surprised after they move in. A history of high or rising crime rates may also take these areas off a homeowner’s option list entirely. When this becomes a pattern, it leads to the overall decrease in an area’s property value.

Pittsburgh Crime Rates

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh has one of the nation’s highest violent crime rates across all communities. In the entire state of Pennsylvania, you have a 1 in 316 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. In Pittsburgh, your chances jump to 1 in 126. Pittsburgh residents also have a 1 in 30 chance of becoming the victim of a property crime, such as burglary, theft or motor vehicle theft.

Crime Prevention Methods

When the residents of an area understand how crime affects their property values and other aspects of the community (such as business, school quality, etc.), they’re more invested in finding effective methods for crime prevention. Two common examples are neighborhood watch programs and after school programs to teach good habits from a young age. If you’re concerned about your neighborhood’s safety, get involved with the community to find solutions.