An estimated 68% of U.S. households have pets. People love pets! So it shouldn’t be a problem to sell your house if you have pets, right? Wrong. While most people love their pets, that doesn’t mean they want to deal with your pets. In addition, there is a sizable chunk of the population who do not have pets, for a variety of reasons.
Discomfort – People who don’t have pets or didn’t grow up around them may be uneasy around animals, especially animals they’re unfamiliar with. As a home seller, you want potential buyers to feel as comfortable as possible in your home – you want them to be able to imagine it as their home.
Fear – Some people are actually afraid of animals. Fear is the complete opposite of the emotional reaction you are trying to elicit from potential homebuyers!
Allergies –Many people love animals but are allergic to them. You don’t want someone to be struggling with watery eyes or a stuffy nose while trying to appreciate your home.
Even if none of these was a factor, there are a couple of key reasons why you shouldn’t keep your pets around during an Open House or even during regular showings:
Pets are unpredictable (and so are people) – You may think you know exactly how your pet will react to groups of strangers wandering through your house, but there are so many factors you can’t control. Maybe your dog has been around kids his whole life – but that doesn’t mean he’s been around a kid who will pull his tail or scream in his face. You don’t know how strangers will behave and you don’t want to deal with a potential buyer (or their child) who has been bitten or clawed by your previously calm and loving pet. Remember, YOU are liable if your animal hurts someone.
Pets can run away – No matter how many times you tell your Realtor not to leave the front door open, or not to unlock the side gate, the reality is that people make mistakes. If you have your pet in the house during showings, you run the risk of the pet getting out.
What to Do With Pets When Selling a House
Okay, so presumably you understand that having your pet around during showings is a mistake. So, what to do with pets when selling your home?
Relocate your pet – Ideally, you should drop your pet off with family or friends for the duration of the time your home is on the market. That may not be practical, but definitely clear them out during showings, whether that means taking the dog to the park, or loading the cat into a carrier and driving him around the block a few times.
Repair damage – There are many benefits to having a pet, but there’s no denying that they can take a toll on a house. The sofa that your cat clawed to shreds is not one of the home’s fixtures – but leaving it as is creates an impression – and not the kind of impression you’re trying to foster. If you don’t want to buy a new couch, get slipcovers to hide the damage and create a more pleasing environment. And definitely fix any damage to the house itself that pets may have caused, whether it’s scratched on the floor or gnawed-on baseboards.
Remove stains and odors – You may not be able to tell, but almost certainly your home smells of your pets. If you’re unsure, bring in a fresh nose to assess the situation. Make sure you do a thorough cleaning before you put the house on the market – and that may need to include shampooing the carpets. Make sure to use Nature’s Miracle or a similar product that actually breaks down the odor-causing chemicals. DO NOT try to cover pet odors with air fresheners, incense, or scented candles. In addition to often being ineffective in truly masking the unpleasant odors, many people are sensitive to the chemicals in these products. Having potential buyers flee your home with eyes and nose running is not going to generate purchase offers!
Get rid of tell-tale signs – While you’re not trying to fool anyone into thinking you don’t own pets, you don’t want to be reminding them, either. Just as you should remove personal (and certainly religious or political) items from the home, you also want to get rid of your pets toys, beds – and certainly litter box – to create an environment where buyers are free to imagine themselves living there. Don’t forget about the backyard! Remove all your dog’s toys – and more importantly, their poop – before showing the property. Also, if your animal has dug holes or otherwise damaged the landscaping, make sure you repair that as well.
There are cases where it is not practical to remove your pet from the home. If that’s the case, you still need to do everything you can to minimize their presence. Clean and re-clean! Pick up their toys and beds. And don’t skimp on Nature’s Miracle.
Having pets as a home seller doesn’t have to impact your bottom line. But it definitely is going to take extra care and attention to ensure potential buyers are not put off by your animals.