My husband and I have been trying to sell our semi. We didn’t get any offers we liked after our first open house; we think it’s because the retired couple who live in the other half were on their porch smoking cigarettes for the entire three hours. It’s their property, so we can’t ask them to leave for the day. Or can we?

—Second-Hand Semi, Cliffcrest

It’s doubtful that chain-smoking senior citizens alone are responsible for your (probably overvalued) house’s slow start, but it’s still best to be rid of them. Drop by for a friendly chat and explain that your agent recommends having the other half of the semi empty during the open house. Don’t get into specifics; tell them you’re just following orders. Then suggest a couple of ways they can spend the afternoon—a leisurely lunch, a matinée—and say it’s your treat. If for some unfathomable reason they turn down the freebie and refuse to make themselves scarce, level with them. Ask them not to smoke, stressing that a higher sale price on your half will only help them when they decide to sell. Be warned: they may double down and crack open a six-pack to go with the smokes just to spite you.

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