Tips for Selling a House with Pets

When homes have a dog, cat, or any kind of pet, selling the house can be tricky, says Janey Suarez, who works for a Costa Blanca real estate agency. Homeowners love their pets; some pets get treated better than children. Owners take them to doggie masseuses, spend hundreds on cat castles, and let them have the run of the house. Since they love their pets so much, sellers don’t grasp how their pet affects the home’s ability to show and inevitably sell. This can cause nightmares for estate agents trying to sell the pet-friendly home.

Pet Odours

Odours are a huge problem with pets: In most cases, pet owners don’t realise how bad their house smells, as they breathe the air daily and are accustomed to it. What would estate agents do? They have to be honest about how the house looks and smells; it is for the seller’s own good. If they are motivated sellers, they will not be offended. If the sellers don’t believe the estate agents, they should enlist the help of an unbiased nose to do a whiff test; family members, friends, or neighbours.

According to a 2018 Staging Poll conducted by Maritz Research, “53% of buyers believe strong odours such as pet and cigarette smells had a stronger impact on their impression of a home than overall tidiness and cleanliness, strong wall colours, and outdated façade or landscaping.” When dealing with odours, some people suggest lighting scented candles or boiling potpourri on the stove when potential buyers come by. While this isn’t a bad idea, it might be a red flag to people who are wondering what the seller is trying to cover up. It is best to eliminate the odour source.

Put Away Pet Toys For House Showings

Pet paraphernalia also turns off home buyers: Not only do dog beds and food bowls usually smell, but having pet reminders around can irritate buyers. Even people who have pets don’t want to see pets in a house they are thinking of buying. Opening the door to the laundry room and getting hit by the stench of a litter box or the rabbit’s cage is not pleasing. Janet suggests, “All dog or cat toys, leashes, beds, etc., should be put away for all showings.” It is often helpful if the pets can be lodged with neighbours or at kennels, through the viewing period.

Pet Damage in Your House

Pets can do permanent damage to a home, and that needs to be addressed before putting the house up for sale. Doors may be damaged, baseboards scratched, and carpet clawed to shreds. The pet urine had soaked through the carpet in one home, ruining and moulding everything underneath. Owners don’t always realise the extent of the damage and may need it pointed out. Another finding from the Royal LePage Home Staging Poll is that 63% of buyers prefer a higher-priced home that does not require any renovations over a lower-priced fixer-upper. Hence, they encourage sellers to repair any pet damage.

Some Buyers Dislike Animals

Many buyers have a distaste for animals, dislike hair all over the place, or have an allergy to litter box dust. These days, it seems more people are sensitive to pet dander or erupt into a sneezing fit when they encounter all that fluff blowing around the house. When deciding between two similar houses, a buyer will be apt to choose the pet-free one, over one that houses pets. Why would buyers deal with allergy and cleanliness issues if they didn’t have to? Pets undoubtedly affect a home’s saleability. It’s a given that urine stains and fecal matter will turn off buyers: Therefore, it is mandatory to clean the carpets and completely rid the backyard and house of droppings. Also, a poop-check needs to be done before every showing.

Remove Pets During House Showings

What about pets during showings or an open house: send the pets on a vacation while you sell the house. Is there a friend or family member that will take them in? If not, board the pet to avoid more damage and reduce the inconvenience. Janet is adamant, “Pets need to be out with the owners, or they need to be at a friend’s house for all showings, no exceptions!” Why not just lock the pet in a room and advise the buyers not to go in there? Bad idea! Would you want to buy a place you couldn’t completely inspect? Even the friendliest animals can get annoyed with strangers parading through their houses and express themselves in hostile ways. As Janet points out, “Pets can turn potential buyers off, especially if the seller has a large dog. Some buyers might be afraid of dogs, and they won’t want to walk into the house or even onto the property; pets should have play dates with friends while the home is being shown.”

Don’t think these issues are limited to dogs and cats. Bunnies, reptiles, and talking birds, among most others, can cause property damage and grief for potential buyers, but pets aren’t all bad. If the sellers live in a dog-friendly neighbourhood, for example, they can market the home this way to the dog community. Janet points out, “Having a pet-friendly home may work for potential pet buyers when the yard is fenced in and has a nice size lawn area for the pet to be outside and safe. It also pays to have a side entrance with a mud/laundry area for washing and cleaning up the pet before entering the home.” Ultimately, you want to sell the house, so hopefully, you can find a balance between a house that shows well and a home that still needs to be lived in.