Selling Your Home When You Have Pets

I only work part-time as a realtor since we have young children that demand much of my time.  As a result of this limited availability, when I am working with clients, that business is very important to me. I do not want to lose clients or allow a transaction to fall through for any reason — because I might not make another sale for a month or two. Over the weekend, I was out showing houses with some buyers. We were at our third appointment for the day, and this property happened to be one of their “front runners” that they really wanted to see. We entered the home at our scheduled time and a large German Shepherd aggressively ran at us and started barking and jumping. I am a dog person, and this just rattled me a bit. However, one of my clients has a pretty intense fear of large dogs and got very upset.

 

We left the home without even touring it. My client eventually calmed down, but we did not write any offers, nor did they seem especially interested in any of the homes we walked through. This really upset me for a few reasons. Selfishly, I was excited about getting a transaction started, but I was actually more upset for my buyers who had a negative experience. I notified the listing agent about the aggressive dog, and the agent apologized, but said there was nothing he could do. I actually disagree with this statement and I’ll tell you why.

 

As much as we love and cherish our pets, they can be a major deal breaker when it comes to buying or selling a home. That dog should not have been present when we arrived for the showing. Additionally, there should have been a statement that a large dog lives in the home — nowhere was this information documented. Instead of being irritated or angry about this unfortunate experience, I thought I’d turn it into a learning experience for all of us in my blog this week. I’ve got a few strategies to share with you regarding selling a home when you have pets. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again — to anyone!

 

Remove pets for showings. At the very least, arrange for your pet to be out of the house when buyers are scheduled to do a walk through. Go for a drive, go to the park, go to a friend’s house — just make sure the pet is not at home. (Note: It is a bonus to put away toys, food and water bowls.) If your schedule doesn’t allow you to leave as necessary, there is always pet day care or a pet sitter that could help. Another reason this is a smart move is that it takes away the risk of your beloved pet getting out during the showing.

Relocate pets temporarily. Sellers, it might be a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member keep the pet while your home is on the market. It would help keep the house cleaner and cut down on shedding. It’s ideal to have all signs of the pet removed while selling your home, especially with the possibility that a potential buyer might have allergies or just a distaste for animals in the house. This includes toys, kennels, pictures, carriers, etc.

Repair any damage caused by pets. Dogs and cats are probably the hardest on homes. For example, our dog jumps at the front door when the doorbell rings and has just worn our lovely trim away. That would be a necessary fix if we were selling our home. Some other good examples include windowsills that have been clawed or chewed on, major scratches on floors, and tears or bite marks on furniture. I know the furniture doesn’t stay with the house, but it doesn’t reflect the home at its best. Try an inexpensive slipcover if possible.

Eliminate pet odors and stains. This is common sense. Some people are incredibly sensitive about pet odors and stains in a home. They can smell it as soon as they walk in and it bothers them the entire time. I’ve had many clients who have made comments about pet odors in homes, so this is a big one for me. I have seen it squash a potential sale, and I don’t want that to happen to you! Resolve is a great cleaner for minor stains, and Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle can help too, but I would recommend a professional cleaning before you list your home with a focus on odor removal.

Clean up messes in your yard. If you have a pet that does its business outside, clean up often in case buyers want to walk around the yard. The last thing you want them to do is step in something gross while they are assessing the yard.

Arrange all of these things with your realtor. He or she can advise you and do a walk through to ensure everything looks and smells fresh. If you’re a realtor or investor reading this, I can’t stress these actions enough. Insist that your sellers complete these things when selling, and investors might consider not allowing tenants to have pets in a rental because of potential damage and liability if someone were to get bitten.

If you have a more exotic pet like a bird, snake, spider, or rodent, it is absolutely critical that they are removed from the home. If that is not possible, whether it is one of these type of animals, or a traditional dog or cat, please, please, please make a note that the animal is present in the listing information or tell the agent showing the property so all parties are aware. That is just being polite and professional!

Let me stress again that I love animals, especially dogs, and consider them family members, but any pet can really be a detriment to a home sale. Remember that all of this is only temporary, and these are tips to help get the home sold faster so you and your pets can move on to your next adventure. What other thoughts do you have on selling a home with pets? Has anyone had a similar experience?

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