Pets & Real Estate

When you have a house on the market, things get stressful—to say the least.  You need to keep the house clean and spotless, ready to be shown on a moment’s notice.  Having kids in the house is one thing, but what about when you have dogs?  Or cats?  We all love our pets, and we consider them a part of the family.  But that doesn’t mean a potential buyer will love them—even if they share your love and enthusiasm for animals.

So, what’s a home seller to do?

First, let’s address the residency factor.  Cats may need to move out, temporarily, to a family or friend’s house.  They are notoriously bad car riders, and anyone who has tried to get a cat into a carrier knows—it’s not for the faint at heart, and it rarely happens within five minutes.  So for the sake of everyone, consider a temporary re-homing of your feline family.

Dogs, on the other hand, tend to be a little easier.  Sort of.  While some get anxious about riding in cars, most just want to be where you are.  Consider boarding them during the day at doggie daycare.  Or, maybe your employer is relaxed enough to let every day be “Bring your pet to work day” while the house is on the market.  Whatever you do—make sure your dogs’ food and water bowl area stays neat and tidy, and be prepared to put them under the sink very quickly.  Keep their toys and leashes put away when you aren’t home, and store their dog beds when they aren’t in use.

When you have dealt with the issue of what to do with the pet’s location, consider the following tips:

  1. Assess the house for pet-related damage. Are door frames scratched or worn from being treated like a scratching post?  Is there damage to the drywall from your dog?  Sometimes, we become immune to these issues, so be objective and try to see your house as an outsider.
  2. Do a good, deep cleaning of your home, including the carpets. You likely won’t be able to smell any lingering pet odors, so ask a friend for his or her honest opinion.  Sniff the carpet, the drapes, the furniture, and the throw pillows.  Even though your furniture isn’t part of the deal, those smells will permeate a room.  Make sure you address the odor issues from any potential source.  But be wary of using air fresheners.  Some people are allergic to them, and frankly—they can overpower a space and be too much.  Get rid of the odors and then dab some nice, light essential oils that don’t overwhelm the atmosphere.
  3. Help contain the odor with weekly baths for the dog. He may not like it, but regular grooming will help control pet odors.
  4. If the cats are staying in the home, make sure you scoop the litterbox daily—even twice a day if you have more than one cat. Scoop the poop in the backyard and make sure you toss all refuse into the garbage.
  5. Again, if the cats are staying home, evaluate where their litter boxes are stored. Don’t leave them in the open or in a carpeted closet.  Opt for under the bathroom sink or the utility room, if possible.
  6. Vacuum and sweep every day.

If pets remain in the home during a showing, make sure you crate your dog if you can’t take him or her with you during the day, or if boarding isn’t an option.  Also, make sure your realtor knows to communicate that there are pets in the home.  The last thing you want is for your indoor cat to be let out because the showing agent didn’t know of the kitty’s presence!


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