If you have pets at home, chances are you love them. They’re probably considered part of the family. They may sleep with you at night or take over the couch all day. Whether you have a dog or cat or turtle, rabbit, snake, guinea pig, goldfish, bird, or something else entirely, their presence is likely all throughout your home. Under normal circumstances, this is nothing to think twice about. But when you’re looking to sell your home, it can become a real issue.
When people are looking at your house as a potential purchase, they don’t love your pets, and they don’t look necessarily look at the presence of animals in a potential home as a positive. In many cases, the presence of animals actually decreases a home’s value in their eyes–no matter how cute your furry friend is.
There are a number of reasons why potential buyers don’t like pets. Animals, even the smallest of critters, can make people uncomfortable. Fear of certain animals, whether real or irrational, is something a lot of people deal with, whether it’s a bad experience in the past or a lack of experience with them. A lot of people are unsure when meeting strange animals, and both pets and people can be unpredictable. Another big reason and a potential breaker for some people are allergies. Someone with a severe cat allergy is not going to want to wait to see the house’s potential if they are greeted by 5 cats during the Open House.
So. How can you overcome these obstacles to sell your pet-friendly home?
The best solution is not always easy, nor is it a very comfortable option for many pet lovers. However, if you really want to ensure getting top dollar for your home, it’s best to relocate them while your home is on the market. I know, I know–nobody wants to part with their loved ones, especially when there’s really no way of knowing how long your house will be on the market. Ideally, it’ll be a quick sale, but even if it’s only a matter of a couple of weeks, that can feel like forever without your companion.
If you decide to go this route, see if a friend or a relative can take care of your pets while you’re trying to sell. Other alternatives include kennel boarding or local pet sitters available on apps like Rover.
If you decide to go this route, it’s important that you schedule a visit with your veterinarian beforehand. Your animals all have their own individual needs, and these are best discussed with a professional who knows your dog ad can determine if this is feasible. Some pets don’t do well with change, and the added stress of separation (on top of the stress from the impending move) could negatively impact their health. Similarly, if your pets are going to be living with other animals, make sure everyone is up-to-date on all vaccinations and medications.
Completely relocating your pet is not always possible. It’s also something you might simply be unwilling to do. As a pet owner myself, I understand the financial and emotional strain of extended separation (and could personally never move my dog out of the home). If this is the case, at the very least you should try to keep your pet off the property during showings.
Your real estate agent should be handling the showings of your home; ideally, you should be away from the home at those times. This is an opportunity to take your animals with you somewhere: take your dog for a long walk or romp in the park, visit friends and family members for the day (who won’t mind a furry tagalong), use a dog walking service, see if a neighbor wouldn’t mind being a temporary pet-sitter, or send your furry loved one to doggie daycare that day.
Separating pets from potential buyers should be one of your priorities, especially since if anything happens (like a dog bite on your property), you can be held liable. Check with your home insurance policy and see what it covers when it comes to dog bites.
If removing your dog from the property isn’t possible, inform the real estate agent and keep your pets contained. If your dog is crate trained, crate them in a quiet, out-of-the-way space. The garage is a possibility, too, depending on the circumstances. If your backyard is fenced and escape-proof, leaving your dog outside in another possibility if you’re comfortable with that.
Animals that are in cages or aquariums are easier to deal with than dogs in this instance, although moving them to a quiet, out-of-the-way location is ideal. If you happen to have a reptile, keep in mind that many people are fearful of snakes, so keeping such critters out of sight might be very important. If you have a cat that has to stay in the home during showings, inform the real estate agent (and leave notes) especially if the cat is not to be let outside.
Even if you’re four-legged companions are gone from the home when potential buyers arrive, it’s best to not make it super obvious that pets are currently in the home. While you may be required by sate law to disclose whether pets have lived in your home, you don’t need to make their presence obvious. Just as you would declutter your home when preparing to stage your home, eliminate the extra pet clutter that has accumulated throughout the house. Pick up and move all toys, beds, cages, bowls, etc. when not in use. Nobody wants to trip on an old slobbery tennis ball.
Another important aspect of eliminating the negatives of having a pet in the home is to clean–thoroughly. You should vacuum and sweep your floors every day, or even twice a day, to get rid of stray pet hairs and dander. If your carpets are stained from past accidents, buyers will notice. Have a professional to remove stains. If your home has any pet-related odors, make sure you eliminate them before potential buyers arrive. Nothing will turn someone off from a home quite like cat urine. Similarly, if a cat is in the house, make sure the litter box is out of sight and impeccably clean.
You won’t always notice the animal smells in your own home. If you’re worried you can’t detect certain odors, have a neighbor or friend stop by to give your home the sniff test.
It might even be valuable to you to go as far as removing pet-themed decor from your home, as well as photos –especially if the photos show your dog sleeping on the couch or your cat on the bed.
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.