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Should a realtor disclose a smoker’s house?

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Should a realtor disclose a smoker's house?

A non-smoker will notice immediately a smoker’s house, from the moment of entering.

Also, a strong smell of Febreze, air fresheners or other fragrances could mean that the seller is trying to mask an odor.

The other day, when we arrived, the seller was sitting up front, waiting for us to arrive for a showing. And she was smoking.

When the buyer asked, she said “I only smoke outside”. But the stink was everywhere, this was definitely a smoker’s house. My clients were non-smokers and were done looking in less than 2 minutes.

So should a realtor disclose a smoker’s house or not?

When our agents list a house in Costa Rica for sale or for rent, we usually list all the amenities on the listing. But we don’t disclose if the owner has a cat or a dog. Or if the house for sale has been smoked in.

Should a realtor disclose a smoker's house?

I can now see my readers who are still smokers all think “can’t you just keep your mouth shut. If I keep smoking in my house, I’ll never get rid of it”. I’d still like to put this matter into the discussion, which is what that comment box at the bottom of this blog is. Many readers still haven’t figured out what that comment box is for…

Now, fewer people in Costa Rica smoke than ever before. Did you know that you’re not allowed to smoke in public places anymore? That makes it even harder for a smoker to enjoy a simple cigarette, a cigar, a pipe, or some pot, even in your own house.

Social Life

It’s hard to have fun social life as a smoker anymore. I used to be a heavy smoker most of my life myself and quitting was the hardest thing I’ve done in life. Only a non-smoker knows how bad cigarette smell can get, especially when it’s stale. For years, I have suffered at parties because I’d have to spend time on the balcony at a party of mostly non-smokers. Like the owner of the home in this video below didn’t want to turn his home into a smoker’s house:

Smoking can seriously damage your health

Enough joking now, let’s get serious.

Cleaning Up

Cleaning up a smoker’s house of the unpleasant small is not so easy. It is really difficult to get rid of the smell of smoking. But once the sellers take their ashtrays, the furniture, and the curtains, it will be easier to handle. Here are a few steps to take:

  1. Open all the windows, cross ventilation does a pretty good job.
  2. Few homes in Costa Rica have wall-to-wall carpeting. But if the house has any, replace it all.
  3. Sprinkle baking soda on all the surfaces where the smell is strongest. Vacuum clean it the next day.
  4. Use vinegar to clean floors, walls, and other hard surfaces. Use two-thirds distilled white vinegar and one-third water.
  5. The walls and ceilings in the social areas might need more than the vinegar. Use one cup of ammonia to 4 liters of warm water and sponge off those areas.
  6. Call an A/C specialist to clean the ducts and replace the filters if there are any in the house.
  7. If there is a strong smell around the covered terrace, use coffee grounds between the plants.

Should a realtor disclose a smoker's house?


If you’ve done each one of the former 7 steps, you should be ready to paint. Choose the colors of your liking. If you plan to sell again soon, learn something about colors you should NOT use when painting your house.

Trying to Cover Up?

I’ve never had any non-smoking clients myself who walked away from a showing of a house for sale because of the bad smell. But I’ve heard of people it allergies that cannot stand being in a smoker’s house for a minute. It took my nose years to get any sense of smell again after I quit smoking. Now I understand why people who have never smoked complain about the horrible smell.

Some smokers attempt to minimize the smell in their house for sale by using scented candles, potpourri, baking a cinnamon cake, open windows, etc. But a non-smoker will smell immediately that the sellers smoke and won’t be fooled.

There are a few more actions to get rid of the smell of smoke as explained in this article on But if you keep smoking until the house is sold, it will be a waste of time.

Should a realtor disclose a smoker's house?


If you have allergy trouble, there is an Allergy and Asthma shop – unfortunately, their site is in Spanish only but it’s good practice for you.

There are also plenty of people who have an allergy to cats and dogs. So should we also list a checkbox showing that the owners have pets?

We, at GoDutch Realty, really appreciate your comments in the comment box below. Thank you!

And if you’re in the market to buy or sell a house in Escazu, Santa Ana, Atenas, Grecia, Sarchi, Naranjo, San Ramon, Belen, or Cariari, contact us now.

Main Image: Photo by Obby Rh on Unsplash

Man with Cat: Photo by Petrebels on Unsplash

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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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2 thoughts on “Should a realtor disclose a smoker’s house?”

  • Diane Farquhar

    4 July, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    I had renters earlier this year who weren’t disclosed to me to be smokers..they insisted they only smoke outside, but it was the first thing I’d smell when I drove up…also, there is the possibility of burnt holes in outside furniture and fires, esp during the dry windy season..I’d say disclosure is definitely required!

    • Ivo Henfling

      4 July, 2021 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks, Diane, great comment! Especially in Atenas, with all that long and dry grass in the dry season, it’s something your tenants might not realise they have to be super careful. They’ll burn down the community in no time!


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