How To Sell a House With Pets
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 39 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog and 34 percent have at least one cat. More than half of the feline-friendly households are home to more than one cat. In total, there are 74.8 million dogs and 88.3 million cats sharing our homes.
Americans love pets … until they’re house hunting. Don’t take it personally. Even pet lovers can be less than enthusiastic to see someone else’s animals in the surroundings they’re trying to envision as their future digs.
Selling a home where pets live can be challenging, but before you kick Fido and Fluffy to the curb, there are steps you can take to minimize the negative impressions they leave behind for potential home buyers.
Some real estate agents advise sending your pets on “vacation” while your house is on the market. Boarding them at a kennel is usually not a financial or fair option, but you could consider letting a friend or relative keep them until you make the sale. However, while this does reduce odors and fur balls and makes showings more convenient, often it’s still not a practical solution.
During showings and open houses, if at all possible, take the pets with you. These events last only a few hours at most, so enjoy a long walk or some playtime at the park with your pal. If you must leave them home, place them in a crate or carrier with a note asking that they not be disturbed. Since you never know how they’ll react when confined in the presence of strangers, this will reduce their stress and keep everyone safe.
With a security plan in place, it’s time to think about removing signs of pets in your home. De-cluttering applies to pets too. Just because you have pets doesn’t mean potential home buyers want to be reminded of it at every step.
- Put away food and water bowls when it’s not feeding time, or at least during showings.
- Remove photos of pets.
- Vacuum daily. Use lint brushes when and where necessary.
- Remove stains from furniture, rugs and carpets. Hire a professional and then spot clean as needed. If stains can’t be removed, replace the flooring where damage is severe or cover small stains with a throw rug or furniture, as appropriate.
- Repair damage from chewing and scratching.
- Put pet toys and all other animal paraphernalia (carriers, leashes, brushes, beds, etc.) away.
- Clean up dog waste in the yard.
- Keep litter boxes clean and out of sight.
One of the biggest complaints from potential home buyers involves pet odors. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than the smell of urine. Air fresheners don’t do a good job of masking odors, so try enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle or hire a professional.
Most home buyers realize that your house is your pets’ home, too, and they’re usually tolerant of reasonable wear and tear. But when your house is on the market, it’s a good idea to put your best paw forward by presenting a clean, odorless and for the moment, pet-free environment.
Lori Lovely is a real estate contributor for the Indianapolis real estate website of ICON Realty Partners, LLC. The website, located at www.indyhomespecialist.com, features helpful information about buying and selling homes in any market.
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