How Quitting Smoking Will Help You Sell Your Home

Top Turn-Offs to Homebuyers

How Quitting Smoking Will Help You Sell Your Home
January 21, 2016

Have you ever been touring a home as a potential buyer and known within a few minutes that the house was not for you? Something left a poor impression on you that nothing else about the house could overcome. Think about that experience when you are on the other end of the transaction, preparing to sell your house.

It can be hard to spot the weak points in your own home, so let this list of top buyer turnoffs help you realistically assess your home before you list it for sale.

Consider these Turnoffs from a Buyer's Point of View

  • Dirt/Mold – Many homebuyer turnoffs are a matter of taste, but absolutely no one gets a positive impression from a dirty or moldy house. Stained or moldy grout, unclean bathroom and kitchen fixtures, dirty walls and windows, musty/moldy basements and filthy floors all leave a terrible impression. Either give the house a thorough cleaning yourself, or pay somebody to do it professionally.
  • Pests – Similar to a dirty home, evidence of bugs or mice is an instant no-sale. Call an exterminator if you need one.
  • Odors – Smoking is listed as a top turnoff, because smoking odors are pervasive and very difficult to remove without professional help. Pet odors are a close second. It is very difficult to evaluate the odors in your own house objectively, so ask a friend for help (one who can give you the unvarnished truth). If you have to have the walls professionally cleaned and/or rip out carpet to get rid of the odors, do it.

During the showing periods, you will need to refrain from smoking in the house and should consider relocating your pets for a short time… especially if they smoke.

  • Clutter/Personal Items – Buyers want to envision how they fit into the house and don’t need the distraction of your items, or the impression that the house is too small due to the evident clutter. Remove all unnecessary items before showing.

This includes you. Nobody wants you hanging over their shoulder as they assess your house. Let the real estate agent do the work.

  • Outdated Appliances – Any regular viewer of HGTV knows that buyers frequently reject million-dollar homes with outdated appliances, even if they could easily replace the appliances for the money they could save on the house. Buyers often can’t see past the aesthetics of the existing appliances.

It may not make economic sense for you to replace appliances on a house you intend to sell, but for a higher-end home, it may make the difference. If you do replace appliances, stay generic but aesthetically pleasing. The homeowners are likely to replace it anyway, but they still need the initial positive impression to buy the home in the first place.

  • Outdated Decor – Wallpaper, popcorn ceilings, shag carpet, or carpet over hardwood all tend to reduce appeal. As with appliances, these may or may not be worth changing prior to listing. If you don’t, be prepared for a lower price as buyers price in a renovation.
  • Bad Landscaping – Make the best first impression possible by keeping the yard mowed, weeds pulled, and sidewalks edged. Fix any issues such as dirty or damaged brick and siding, peeling paint, or bent gutters. A daily spider web check is not a bad idea either (see pests).
  • Dim Lighting – Dimly lit areas are not appealing. Open the blinds and deal with any poorly lit areas as best you can with floor lamps or other temporary lighting.
  • Specialized/Converted Rooms – Is your garage converted into a mancave? Has a spare bedroom been converted into a shrine to collectible plates or a likeness of Fenway Park?

Any specialized rooms will have appeal to an extremely narrow group of potential buyers (and perhaps no buyers), but will be considered a conversion headache for most. Strip it down as much as possible to leave it as an empty template for the prospective buyer.

Who knows – perhaps after you do all this work, you may decide to keep your house! At the very least, you will have improved the likelihood of selling your house and reaping the rewards of your foresight and hard work.


Photo ©iStock.com/CareyHope

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Erin | 01.21.16 @ 20:02
Cigarette smoke has to be one of the worst smells around. I don't think I could ever but a house from a smoker. Good list of things to take care of before you sell.
Carla Truett | 01.21.16 @ 20:02
My husband and I have both stopped smoking and have since repainted the walls and ceilings and will soon replace out carpeting with wood floors and tiles. I can see how smoking can turn away buyers. It is tough to remove these smells.
joann | 01.21.16 @ 20:03
I know myself as a smoker that my house has an odor to it, and I would definitely have it professionally cleaned in order to get top dollar out of it if I were selling. I don't notice it, but I sure do smell dog and cat odors when I walk into a home. So the smell definitely is a plus or minus in house selling.
Elaine | 01.21.16 @ 20:04
I bought a house once where a smoker lived. They promised they didn't smoke inside but I soon learned that was not the case. No paint would stick to the walls bc of all that nicotine and no amount of kilts helped either. Didn't take long and I had resold that nasty place.
Steffanie | 01.21.16 @ 20:05
Couldnt agree with this list more! Smoke smell is awful.
Sarah | 01.21.16 @ 20:05
Yet another reason not to smoke in the house. I remember trying to clean the smell and general yuck on the walls after my mom died. It was horrible, especially to a non-smoker. Great list of things to keep in mid when prepping your home to sell.
Meredith L | 01.21.16 @ 20:11
There are a lot of good things in this article that help the sale-ability of a home. My family owned a bar in the smoking-was-okay in the bar era. In fact, my entire family smoked. But when it came to smoking at home, we all went outside because 1. the kids and 2. no one wanted the walls and clothes smelling like stale smoke & tar. YUCK
Bobbie | 01.21.16 @ 20:14
I remember have to wash and wash and wash the walls when I was a kid and my parents sold the house, My dad was a smoker and it took forever to try and clear the smell, let alone the stains off the walls
Irene | 01.21.16 @ 20:21
Happy to say I quit 3 years ago on new year's eve. I can't stand that smell anymore
Wanda Langley | 01.21.16 @ 21:04
I went with my Son and Daughter-in-law once to look at a House that they really liked from the outside. When they took us in to see the inside my son turned around and told them No Thank You. The House smelled from Smoke and Pets and they had those Fruity Plugin Air Fresheners going. Not nice at all.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.03.16 @ 18:06
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