When people prepare to sell a home, most of them work very hard to make their home is as attractive as possible. This could include just about anything, from re-painting walls to making minor repairs to hiring a home staging consultant. In a buyers market like this, sellers work very hard at making their home sparkle. They would never suspect that all of these improvements could be completely negated by the family dog.
For homeowners with pets, selling a house could take some extra effort. Pets leave behind evidence of their presence, whether it be in the form of scratch marks, hair, odors, or more. This can pose a problem for potential home buyers which may have allergies. There could be safety issues for pets and people alike, as there really is no way to know how an animal will react with strange people in the house. Additionally, some people are so strongly averse to pets they will refuse to consider a home where they have resided recently. Luckily, there are steps a homeowner can take in order to ensure that the family pet doesn’t prolong the sale of a house or worse, negatively impact its price.
The very first solution to be considered is to relocate the pet to another place if possible. This could be a friend or family member willing to take care of the furry little guy or it could involve boarding the animal. Having the them out of the household would be the easiest, most effective way to prevent a pet’s presence from interfering with the sale of a home. The drawback is homes are spending longer on the market these days and boarding a pet for months on end would not only get expensive, it would be cruel.
If boarding the animal outside of the home is not an option, see if its possible arrange for friends or family to take the pets for a few hours during showings. Having them at the house is the last choice and should be avoided at all costs. If this is the case, they should be restrained in a kennel or outside. Not only are barking dogs and underfoot cats distracting, if a potential home buyer is bitten, they will not purchase the home and they might file a lawsuit to boot.
Make sure that the real estate agent knows pets live in the home. This will make it less likely they will stop by without making plans in advance. They’ll want to know the animals are restrained properly before going to the property. A real estate agent doesn’t want to be responsible for an escaped pet or any other animal-related troubles which may arise.
One of the most obvious troubles of trying to sell a home with pets is their shedding. A house full of pet hair and dander can be an immediate turn off to non-pet owners. Vacuum daily, even twice a day if it’s necessary to keep the carpeting clean. Don’t forget that smooth floor surfaces like tile and hardwood can accumulate „dust bunnies“ as well. Pay careful attention to corners and in between furniture, where fur can accumulate. Lint rollers are great for furniture and other areas that are difficult to clean.
Odors can be another problem for pet owners trying to sell a home. Once someone’s nose is accustomed to a smell, it „forgets“ its there. Some people may not even know their house smells like their pet. Using cleaning products and fabric fresheners can help. Additionally, other scents can be used to cover up any odors that may exist. This could be through candles, baking cookies, potpourri, or more. Do not use air fresheners, as people with allergies can suffer a reaction. If the smell of pets is extremely strong, try using bleach. While it is not a favored smell, it is better than animal odors.
Obviously, where there are pets, there is animal waste. Whether it’s in the litter box or the back yard, it can be a huge turn off to potential home buyers. Make sure that litter boxes are kept impeccably clean while the house is on the market. Stash them in out-of-the-way areas where they won’t be noticed. With dogs, the easiest method is to clean up messes in the yard as they occur.
Beyond the obvious hair and smells, pets can cause other problems within a home that may make it difficult to sell. Pets can cause actual damage to homes in a variety of ways. There is pet soiling which can severely damage the floors of a home. Animal nails can scratch molding, hardwood floors, windowsills, doorways, carpeting, and pretty much anything else they can get their claws into. Some ill-behaved animals have destroyed doors and cabinets with their teeth. If there have been any major damages caused by a pet, they will need to be repaired before the home goes on the market. Any further damage will also need to be prevented.
Pet accessories can really clutter up the way a home looks. Pet dishes in the kitchen. Toys scattered about the living room floor. Kennels or cat trees can really mess up a home staging project. Keep these types of pet accompaniments outside of the most important rooms: the kitchen, the living room, the family room, and any rooms with major selling points like fireplaces or a sunroom.
One final method of selling a home where pets live is to market it to other pet owners. Instead of trying to hide all evidence of pets, promote the fact the property as „pet-friendly.“ Perhaps a concrete kennel has been built, fencing has been installed, or the home is located far from any busy roads. These could be attractive to potential home buyers that will be moving with their pets. It could even bring about some creative marketing strategies, like advertising the home at local animal shelters, animal lovers‘ websites, and discussion groups.
Dogs and cats can make it harder to sell a home, but a little bit of planning can overcome those troubles. With some extra work and careful attention, it could even seem like no pets live there at all. Taking the time to keep the house clean and keep pets and people safe during showings can mean the difference between selling a home for the right price, selling it for a lower price, and even not selling it at all.
by Matt Barker