Is your four-legged friend keeping your home on the market for much longer than it ought to be?
The question of how does one go about selling a home with pets is one that pops up often.
If you are a pet owner, I can assure you there is a way to get great results from marketing your house.
And you don’t have to disadvantage man’s best friend (or your feline pal).
Try this little experiment:
Choose five people, put them in a room together and ask them about keeping pets.
I bet you will get a number of different preferences:
- Some people are dog people, some are cat people.
- Some are both.
- Some are a definite “neither”.
- Some prefer pets of the feathered variety, some prefer keeping fish.
- Some even have more exotic tastes, such as keeping reptiles or arachnids.
- Some animal lovers keep their pets outside as a strict rule. Some have their pets all over the furniture.
Bottom line: for many (83% to be exact, based on this Power of Pets article), pets are an integral part of the family, and it would be no surprise to see that you will find pictures of the animals on the walls of the home and all over their Facebook profile!
Unfortunately, not everyone is wired the same way!
Not everybody will fall in love with your pet the same way that you have.
You may know that your Labrador is boisterous and friendly, but when he is bounding up to a prospective buyer who’s dressed up in a business suit, with his tongue out, it might be the most terrifying thing they could imagine.
Phobia of dogs is real!
Recent studies put 36% of people with a cynophobia (a.k.a. fear of dogs, which is actually one of the most commonly found phobias).
That’s more than 1 out of every 3 people?!
Some aren’t wired against pets in a psychological sense – it’s genetic, as in the case of allergies.
On the other end of the scale, your cute pets could distract potential buyers who are pet lovers.
So much so that they spend more time with the animals than actually looking at the real estate!
Bad for business.
So is there is a right way to go about selling a home with pets?
Of course you can, assuming you don’t overlook the following helpful tips:
Tip #1 — The ideal scenario: Give your pets an extended holiday
IF (yes, a big ‘if’) at all possible, you may want your pets out of the house for the entire duration of the marketing process.
Now, I know those who love their pets won’t love the idea of parting with their pets for any length of time.
However, there are many reasons why it makes for a more effective sale, aside from those already mentioned (buyer allergies and phobias).
For one, buyers want to visualise their new life in the new house.
This, in turn, means you receive top dollar for the sale of your property.
Having pets around might lead to the exact opposite as pets distract buyers.
Their ability to envision themselves living here is hampered, and indirectly, they might be less interested in buying.
Another (more obvious) distraction is the sound of your dog barking, even if confined to a separate part of the property.
Real estate agents have reported the difficulty of trying to hold a conversation with prospective buyers over the noise of the animals.
Even growls or hisses from confined animals can be completely off-putting to buyers.
There is also the chance of a stranger, who might never have interacted with pets, rubbing your pet the wrong way.
Can you imagine what could happen there?
They could incur a bite or a scratch. At the least, you will kiss the sale goodbye, or at worst, you could face liability.
Heck, having your pet temporarily off the property will also give you a chance to make proper preparation for showings as well.
And you don’t have to worry about an agent accidentally letting them out on the street either!
We all know it happens more than the agent admits to the sellers, as it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve got an agent sprinting after little Bonzo who’s enjoying his newfound freedom!
(I’ve had a few of those – hilarious – experiences as well when trying to sell a home with pets!)
So make use of a trusted friend or family member who also has a good relationship with your pet. Let them house the pet for a while.
And this will beat chaining or confining the pet to a small space every time there’s a buyer viewing scheduled!
Alternatively, there are also some high-quality kennel services available, where you can make sure your pet is well looked after.
Tip #2 — Give your pets their own spot
My dad used to say that you don’t need a Plan B if you’ve got a good Plan A.
However, reality is that we might not have the luxury of keeping our pets off the property while marketing the house.
In this case, you will have to set up some space for them somewhere on the property.
It would have to be a spot where they can’t disturb potential buyers.
It should ideally be as roomy as possible, but shouldn’t interfere with the real estate agent taking potential buyers on tour (and yes, the kitchen, for example, is a terrible idea).
You will have to confine them during showings, but this doesn’t mean they have to be miserable:
- Make sure they have plenty of water and that their feeding routine stays as normal as possible.
- Give them their favourite toy, and any blanket or mat that they normally sleep on.
- Animals respond very well to soothing words, so you can also comfort and encourage them when they move into the area.
Remember to praise them when they come out at the end of a showing as well.
Tip #3 — Present a house without pets
And this includes the presence of your pets!
Put away feeding dishes and water bowls; bigger pet accessories like kennels should be placed neatly on the periphery of the area.
Did your Rottweiler go to town on his sleeping blanket the day before the showing, chewing it up and scattering it over the lawn?
You guessed it right: you now have the job of ensuring it’s all tidied up before the agent arrives with the interested buyers.
One buyer even reported an unusual put-off: nose marks that the dogs left on the sliding doors.
Yup – that’s right!
It just shows how some things might be petty to some (if you are an animal lover yourself), yet be the yukkiest for others!
But, weigh up the chance of a great sale of your home against the time it takes to get a pane of glass wiped down.
Really, it’s worth it!
As weird as it may be, sometimes those little things actually do make a difference in the end whether interested buyers go ahead and make an offer or not.
Fish tanks are harmless when it comes to selling a home with pets, assuming they are in good condition!
However, terrariums with bearded dragons, snakes or tarantulas are a big no-no.
If you were surprised about the 36% figure at the top of this article, you don’t want to know how many people dislike those lovely house pets.
A large segment of the population has never appreciated the beauty of these creatures.
And after all, shouldn’t you be more interested in the sale of the house than on selling the idea that these are great pets?
And make sure you conceal these terrariums!
Do you remember that popular real estate show on television, in which the hosts give each house they are marketing a quirky name?
You don’t want your show house to be known as the “dog motel”, or “the menagerie”, or the “lizard hideout”.
So do yourself a big favor and minimise the presence of these animals!
Tip #4 — Fix up what the dog broke down
Advice for selling a home with vets
It is always a good idea to look at your house through fresh eyes when selling.
Try to put your mind in the position of a prospective buyer.
Even the smallest of touches can make all the difference to a prospective buyer!
Such as replacing the section of carpet which your cat has clawed to smithereens.
If your Ridgeback has figured out how to open the back door, what a clever pup!
But if she has left claw marks all over the door and frame, that is something you should see to before showing.
Check the garden area while you are at it.
Dogs, especially large dogs, can be hard on your lawn.
Again, this process becomes easier if the dogs are being safely housed at their Uncle Fred’s house.
This will help you to avoid having the fixtures damaged all over again, the minute you’ve had them repaired.
Tip #5 — Never show a stinky house!
The effect of our sense of smell on the sale of a house is widely accepted as a deciding factor in the process.
A smelly, unkempt area will lead to buyers hurrying out the door.
And pet odors will undoubtedly turn off potential buyers!
Make sure all droppings are dealt with and that the areas are thoroughly cleaned.
Litter boxes should be out of sight as well if possible.
If you have a bird cage, cover it up and make sure that there are no feathers scattered about the room.
On this point, I should mention pet hair as well.
One can get used to a particular spot having a few cat hairs present, but for an allergic buyer walking in off the street, it could be the cause of a sneezing fit, a running nose and puffy eyes.
Make sure these areas get swept and vacuumed.
If you are covering up odours, use one flavour of air freshener throughout the house.
A different flavour in each room creates an unnatural feel as you tour the house.
Don’t overdo it with the air freshener either – one good spray towards the centre of the room should do it.
There is always the trick of baking something delicious before a showing.
This is delightfully subversive and effective, and great for creating a pleasant smell in the house.
And yes, I might be nagging again, but be sure to wash up your dishes and have a spotless kitchen, though!
Tip #6 — When in doubt, talk to an expert
Have you been stressed out by the moving process?
Do you realize that it can be equally stressful for pets, especially older dogs and cats?!
It is always a good idea to talk to the pet’s veterinarian – which might be a good move (pardon the pun) to get their perspective before undertaking the move!
A good professional will be able to give you sound advice relating to your pet.
Preparing your house for sale while doing your best to deal with your pet’s needs might take some extra work.
But it’s worth it if you want to fetch the best price for your property.
And with the right effort, you will be playing fetch on the lawn of your new house in no time!