It’s a question every agent gets asked: What should we do about the dog (cat, hamster, miniature pig….snake) when we have a showing? And the reasons are simple. First, EVERYONE has a pet (just ask my pet-free children), and, everyone knows their pets could impede the sale of their home.
First things first: No, I do not have any animals living in my home. Contrary to popular belief, this does not make me an animal hater. I LOVE animals. They’re adorable! But we tried having pets and it just didn’t work. I’ll pet your cat. I’ll let your dog curl up next to me on your couch. I’ll (bring my child with me to) feed your snake while you vacation. But for the sake of animals everywhere, I’ll leave the pet ownership to the better equipped.
Since everybody ELSE on the planet has a pet, this is a very real concern to sellers and agents – and it should be for three reasons:
1. Animals and their accouterments can cause off putting odors.
2. Animals can scare potential buyers.
3. Buyers oftentimes have allergies.
With that in mind, here are the tips that I give sellers when we list a home with a pet.
1. Clean Early and Often….With dogs and cats, before listing the home, carpets need to be cleaned and deodorized. Consolidate pet toys, snacks, food, brushes, etc. If Fluffy doesn’t use it, get rid of it. That’s the “early” part. The “often” part is harder. Sweep and vacuum at least daily. Clean out litter constantly and replace it every few days at a minimum. Same goes for rodent shavings. And wash your pet and/or his cage at least twice as often as you would normally. You’ve grown accustomed to the smell of your animals, so ask an honest friend to tell you if they smell anything. And invite her back frequently for rechecks.
2. Whenever Possible, Find a Temporary Home….It sounds like a drastic measure, but if it makes your home sell faster and for more money, it’s a reasonable trade off. Caged animals should be easy. Your neighbor kid would love to earn money AND get your cool iguana in his house for a month. Dogs are harder unless you have a trusted grandma or grandpa that they can live with. And cats are impossible, so I won’t go there. But if you can manage it, do it. In addition to saving you from the constant cleaning that goes along with selling your home with a pet, it also prevents losing a sale due to a freaked out buyer. Many people are terrified of reptiles and grossed out by rodents. You want your house to be remembered as “that cute ranch with the brick fireplace”. Not “the rat house”.
3. Make a Plan for for Your Pets During Showings…Sometimes, a buyer will want to see your house in an hour and you’ll be at work. Plan in advance for this situation. Obviously, this applies mostly to dogs, and the best option is Doggie Day Care. In this market, your house should sell in the first month (unless it smells like a dog, see #1). Taking Fido to play with his friends five days a week in order to get more money faster is just the cost of doing business. If that is not an option for you, you need to crate your dogs or leave them in a part of the home that won’t need to be accessed by potential buyers. This sounds cruel and it kinda is, but it’s a non-negotiable. As a buyer’s agent, if I see (or hear) a roaming dog in the house, I’m not going to be inclined to put myself or my buyers (hello, lawsuit) at risk, even if you tell me he’s a sweetheart who wouldn’t hurt a fly. This means people will skip your house. And the buyer who was scared of getting bitten might very well be anticipating a fat inheritance and need a place to live TODAY! Don’t let him skip your house.
By being proactive and taking steps to mitigate any potential pitfalls associated with your pets, you will be much more likely to sell quickly and get you AND your animals into your “fur”ever home!