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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 16:11 GMT
Smokers 'devaluing their homes'
Around 28% of people asked said smokers' homes would put them off
Smokers could be reducing the value of their homes by 16,000, according to new research in the UK.

Nearly three out of every four potential homebuyers would not pay the full asking price for the home of a smoker, an ICM poll of 1,101 indicates.

And 59% said they would offer up to 10% less, according to the Woolwich survey.

Around 28% said they would be completely put off buying a property if the current occupant smoked - more than for any other single reason.

One out of every five of those asked people said they would be put off if it smelt of animals or there was fur on the furnishings.

Stone cladding was a turn-off for 11% of those surveyed and a dirty fridge or oven for 10%.

About 7% of would not want a property with 1970s-style artex ceilings, 5% would be turned off by an avocado-coloured bathroom suite, and swirly patterned carpets are said to be a deal-breaker for 4%.

Woolwich head of mortgages Andy Gray said sellers in the UK may be losing out on as much as 3bn by not carrying out "some basic DIY to ensure the shrewd buyer isn't turned off by their home".

Your comments

The kitchen was not much better with a dark brown ceiling from the combination of smoking and use of a deep fat fryer
Dave, Swindon, UK
I recently went to view a large, reasonably priced, two bedroom flat with a friend who was looking to buy after his divorce. The flat was very spacious and excellent value. It was unoccupied with only carpets and curtains. These had a brown tinge and smelt of stale cigarettes. But the worst feature were the brown walls which showed up the white shapes where the pictures and furniture had once been so you could see the full effect of the smoking. The kitchen was not much better with a dark brown ceiling from the combination of smoking and use of a deep fat fryer. Needles to say he didn't put an offer in.
Dave, Swindon, UK

The people questioned are obviously completely lacking any imagination or common sense - all these 'problems' are instantly solvable. The only thing that puts me off buying a house is the price tag - and that means all houses in my area are off limits to me.
Helen, Exeter, UK

It's not the people you are buying but the house. Hasn't anyone heard of opening windows and air freshener?
Nicola, Chelmsford

The house stayed on the market for months
Ben, Herts
Several years ago my girlfriend and I were keen to buy a property. We planned to view a two bedroom semi. As we approached the house we noticed they had seven gnomes on the stairs to the front door. They were all in various positions and in different costumes. It was very cheesy and not how we perceived our new house to be. We could not stop laughing and eventually became a bit hysterical. We had to about turn without even knocking on the door. The house stayed on the market for months.
Ben, Herts

I was put off buying a house when it was dirty and the floor was littered with underwear. The final straw was the enormous sex aid sitting on the windowsill by the bed.
Philippa Hann, Leicester

I bought a house five years ago and was only talked into buying this particular property by my girlfriend. I was not keen as the previous owner had a dog, two cats and a gerbil. However, I gave in and we bought the house. When we moved in the smell was terrible. I think this was down to the pets being allowed to do their own thing as the house had been sold. The day after we moved in, one of the cats came into the house and immediately jumped on the kitchen work top! I will not make the same mistake again.
Pete Wilson, Chester

One house my wife and I viewed had a 4 foot high painted statue of Elvis singing in the middle of their lounge. We found it so hard not to laugh that we made our excuses and left. Once we were in our car, we broke down and laughed consistently for five minutes! We never went back
Paul, Farnham, UK

A giant iguana staring out from a tropical habitat built in under the stairs.
Steve W, Brighton

It was enough to put anyone off
SJO, Manchester
My wife and I once looked around a house where "piece de resistance" was the master bedroom having been done up by a 'changing room' type TV programme. It was themed on 1950's America and you just knew from watching one or two TV shows that it would have been done on the cheap. It was enough to put anyone off.
SJO, Manchester

The thing that puts me off as much as the smell of cigarette smoke is 'home fragrances', scented candles, potpourri and other so-called air fresheners. Not only are they repulsive and nauseating in themselves (and leave a stench that lingers for weeks), I always wonder what other smells they are trying to cover up.
Sally Marshall, Bristol

We did have a bat fly down the chimney, around the living room, and out the back door, while showing a prospective buyer around. Strangely, the lady left very shortly afterwards, and did not make an offer for the house.
Jim Magill, Bruton, UK

We actually asked if there was a blocked toilet in the house we were inspecting, the owner looked very sheepish when we figured out it was his cigars.
Sean Boxer, Hong Kong

There certainly is a good reason why people should be put off
Martin, Reading
We actually bought a home belonging to a smoker (who got rid of the smell when we looked round). It has taken us 2 years to clean the black stains from the ceilings, and we still find cigarette butts when we dig the garden. There certainly is a good reason why people should be put off.
Martin, Reading

The only way we could afford the type of house we wanted was to buy one in very poor condition. It had old/no decoration, manky carpets, a horrendous bathroom suite and some unfinished improvement work but was basically a sound property having been rewired with good central heating and new(ish) kitchen units. The worst bit was using sugar soap to wash the tobacco stains off the walls and ceiling in every room! This took around 15k (about 16%) off the market rate 5 years ago.
Neil, Altrincham, UK

Fresh home baking and freshly brewed coffee always give a house a welcoming feel. The same cannot be said of a house we looked at sixteen years ago where they were boiling a cabbage to death. That was certainly enough to put us off.
David, Romford, Essex

I work in smoking cessation and even smokers themselves are dismayed at the smell and damage their own smoking causes in their homes. One of the first things they do on quitting is to try to eliminate the odour and the yellowing effects of stale smoke. They also report that they are sometimes offended when they visit other smokers' houses even when they themselves still smoke.
Gary Bickerstaffe, Bolton

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