What to Do with Pets while Your Home Is on the Market
By Keith Loria
An estimated 63 percent of American households (that’s 71 million homes!) have a pet, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Furthermore, Americans spend $41 billion a year on their pets.
While there may be a lot of love going around for the animals, when it comes to buying a home, a pet is one of the last things that people want to see during a home viewing. Home sellers are advised to create the illusion that everything is new and fresh in their homes, but when pets are involved, it’s not always easy to keep things clean and orderly.
“Pet owners are, shall we say…sensitive, and they don’t always understand that not everyone loves animals as much as they do,” said veterinarian Sally Pridgen of Town & County Animal Hospital in Virginia. “There are people that aren’t ‘animal’ people but for pet lovers, that’s almost considered unheard of.”
Many homebuyers consider pets to be smelly, noisy and damaging, so it’s important to make sure that a pet not be the reason you don’t sell your home.
The easiest thing for a pet owner to do when selling their home is to relocate the pet to a friend, family member or pet daycare while the home is on the market. Keeping a pet in the backyard, the garage or in another room that you keep locked is insufficient, and not fair to the pets. Still, removing the pet is generally not something that many will want to do.
“When there are pets in a home, it’s understandable that it could scare away some people from even stepping foot into the house,” Pridgen said. “Many people are worried about dogs or freaked out by birds, and then allergies can also come into play if cats or other animals are inside.”
Most pet owners consider their pets the gentlest creatures in the world, but when strangers come into the home to look around, who knows what the animals are thinking? A dog who barks or jumps on people is never a good thing when you are trying to convey a safe and loving home.
For those who choose to keep their pets inside the house during a home viewing, at the very least they should be kept in a carrier or cage with a note attached warning buyers not to disturb them. The last thing you want is somebody sticking their hand inside and getting bit or scratched—especially a child who has come along for the look.
Removing signs that you have a pet is simply smart practice and some easy steps can help. Make sure you clean the litter box daily and keep them out of sight. Nothing turns off buyers faster than opening the door to the laundry room and being greeted by a smelly litter box.
Also, keep all food and water dishes somewhere out of the way, or put them away after the pet eats.
Don’t forget about odors and stains. A good investment is hiring professionals to remove all pet stains on the carpet as buyers will spot them and form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the home quickly.
Finally, although a sleeping cat on the bed may make for a cute picture, someone seeing the shot on a website looking for a home may automatically bypass the house because they immediately picture cat smells and claw marks on the rug.