Don’t Let Your Pet Sabotage Your Home Sale

Is your property lingering on the market? Your pet could be the reason why you haven’t received an offer.

Not everyone loves animals. Some people are afraid. Others feel uncomfortable being in a house with someone else’s pets. And, then there are potentially the odors or other damage left by your pet. If your home is still for sale, take an objective look at your pet. Could Fido or Fluffy be the reason why?

You love your pet, of course, but when you put your house on the market, your pet can be a detriment. Before you event list your home, you will need to take extra steps to eliminate any odor or damage, including stains on the carpet and scratches on the door, caused by your pet.  Showing your home will also require extra efforts. In fact, you may want to temporarily relocate him while your home is on the market.

That’s not to mention what a pet can do to your home’s value. An otherwise impeccable house could sell for significantly less if buyers detect pet odors, damage, or even pet hair. To get top dollar, you’ll want to banish all signs of Fido and Fluffy.

It’s not impossible to sell your property when you own a pet (or two) and still get full market value, though. Here are some issues you’ll need to address before and while your home is on the market.

Understanding The Problem With Fido

Some people don’t feel the same way about animals that you do. They may not have grown up with pets, or they may feel nervous around them. For rational or irrational reasons, they may be outright terrified of your pet (especially if you have a pet boa constrictor). And then, let’s face it: your pet isn’t their pet. They can’t see him through your eyes and have a hard time overlooking his flaws.

Your pet poses another problem: over the years, he may have caused damage, such as claw marks on the back door or window and stains on the carpet. He may also have left odors in the house, especially if he is not entirely housebroken. (Cat urine is one of the most difficult odors to remove from a home.)  Left unaddressed, these odors and damages will have a negative impact and may prompt the buyer to question the condition of the home.

To Relocate Or Not: The Debate

As a pet owner, you have two options when you put your house on the market. First, you can relocate your pet and have him either live temporarily with a trusted relative or friend or at a boarding kennel for the duration of the sales process. This gives you an opportunity to fumigate and repair the home. You also won’t have to worry about hiding evidence of your pets before a showing because they won’t be there.

Your second option is to keep him in the house and work around him. Whether they get top dollar for their home can depend largely on how successful they are at hiding evidence of their pet. Expect to spend extra time vacuuming, cleaning, and hiding bowls and toys before showings. Also, you’ll have to make arrangements for your pet during the showing. Locking your animal in a back room or garage won’t cut it.

Of course, relocation may not always be practical. Moves can be just as stressful for pets as they are for their humans, and some have significant separation anxiety. A new home, even a temporary one, may be detrimental, especially for older animals. Before you commit to either option, consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

 

Hiding The Evidence

Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in your house, but that’s hard to do when they see your personal items—and those belonging to your pet— in the house. And, of course, they don’t want to smell evidence of your pet’s housebreaking escapades or see the damages he’s caused.

The first step is to address the damages. For stains on the floor or carpeting, hire a professional to clean the damaged area. If the stains do not entirely disappear, replace the damaged flooring. Similarly, sand and repaint scratched surfaces, such as interior and exterior doors, or replace them. Don’t overlook your personal items. If the couch has claw marks or shows other evidence of your pet, discard or at least remove it.

Next, address any odors. If a thorough cleaning doesn’t remove pet odors, consider fumigating. With cat urine, you may even have to paint over walls with Kilz paint or remove affected drywall and flooring to eliminate the odor.

Finally, put away any unnecessary pet items, such as extra toys, and store any photos of your pet. You want your home to look as pet-free as possible.

Preparing For A Showing

Items you need on a daily basis for your pet—water bowl, food bowl, kennel, bedding, a favorite toy—will need to be stored before you invite the buyer to walk through your home. If you have a cat, hide the litter box; if you have a dog that uses dog potty pads, dispose of them before the buyer arrives, and pick up any outdoor waste.

For the actual showing, remove your pet. If you own a dog, you could take him for a walk while the buyer is at your home. Or, you could arrange to send him to a doggie day care for the day. Cats may not require removal if they usually hide when you have guests, but if they like to socialize, you’ll need to make similar arrangements.

Avoid leaving your pet locked in the garage or backroom, though. Doing so makes that part of the house inaccessible and can make a negative impression.

While You Are At Work

What do you do when you are at work? Some realtors give little notice before arriving to show the house. You can leave your pet crated during the day, just in case a buyer wants to see your house while you’re at work, although that isn’t necessarily an optimal solution since he might whine, bark, or otherwise make visitors uncomfortable. Instead, consider requiring 24-hour notice before a showing to give you enough time to make arrangements for your pet while you are at work.

 

Sources: National Association of Realtors (www.realtor.org)