Your cat or dog is part of the family. As an avid animal lover and lifetime pet companion myself, I have to guard against the slight feelings of mistrust I feel towards people who don’t love my animals. Many sellers have cats and dogs. Some even have more exotic pets. The cold, hard truth though is that many buyers don’t like them. Some people have allergies, some don’t like the smells, or the hair, some are worried about past carpet damage, some are afraid of specific breeds.
Further, all of the trappings of pet ownership detract from the selling features of our home. I’ve walked into many a living room and the very first thing I see is a huge dog bed, covered in half chewed raw hides (yuck) or worse, one of those massive wire dog crates. When you are selling you absolutely must keep these items out of sight, especially in the kitchen, bathrooms, living room, family room and master bedroom. The mudroom, laundry room or garage can work in a pinch. Many sellers keep the cat food and water on the kitchen counter and the kitty box in the bathroom. All of these things can be a major turn off to buyers AND they are distracting. Also, these items often smell, take up precious real estate (which is what you are selling) and cause buyers to worry about hygiene.
When it comes to selling your home with pets in residence, a good rule of thumb is to imagine that it’s not your house anymore. Imagine that you are visiting a friend and they graciously let you bring your precious pooch or kitty cat into their immaculate home. If you are a good guest you would strive to keep all the animal doodads out of the way. You would bring a clean dog bed. Maybe you would store your animal accessories in the laundry room, a mud room, a closet, the garage or your car. You would probably only bring the dog dish and the dog food out for feedings and keep the water in an unobtrusive spot. You would make sure that the cat box was clean at all times.
It is also important to put your pets away for showings, especially big dogs and particularly any breed that can be regarded as scary. I have heard stories about cats cornering potential buyers and hissing and growling or deciding to use the litter box during a showing– stinky! So, it is best if you can take your animals with you or find a neighbor to pet sit during showings.
Of course, the number one reason that Fido or Fifi could scare away buyers — the SMELL. Yes, your house will smell like dog or cat. When you live with animals you become accustomed to the smell and do not notice it anymore. Probably the worst offender of all is the dreaded Eau de Cat Pee. If you have this in your carpet or carpet pad – plan to get it fixed STAT. Do not give an allowance for this one. There is a reason why investors love “smelly cat” houses – because most buyers run away faster than a speeding bullet and they can get a great deal. Make sure that you aren’t one of them. Invite an honest friend over to give your home a thorough sniff test.
Many sellers have pets and are able to successfully sell their homes. A little bit of inconvenience is worth a quick sale so that you can get that dog crate back into the living room as quickly as possible.