9 Tips for Selling and Showing Your Home When You Have Pets

If you’re trying to sell your house and have a dog, cat or multiple pets, the perfectly staged home can be tough to pull off. That’s because you probably don’t even realize how much your house screams “pets” to prospective buyers.

You may be nose-blind to that doggy or kitty box odor you tried to spray away with Febreeze. However, house hunters stepping through your front door will notice it right away. And they’ll reduce their offer to offset the cost of cleaning and repairs as a result.

Potential buyers don’t want to see or smell evidence of a furry creature associated with stubborn odors, scratched floors or unseen damage to be discovered later. So, before you put your home on the market, take a romp through these 9 tips for showing your home when you have pets.

1. Deep Clean to Eliminate Odors.

Cat and dog odors hang in the air and seep into your rugs, furniture, drapes and even the walls, says Emile L’Eplattenier, a real estate analyst at Fit Small Business.

“A deep, professional cleaning with both steam and odor removal products specifically designed for pets is the only real way to truly neutralize the pet odor in your home,” says L’Eplattenier.

2. Stay on Top of Cleaning.

Once you deep clean, you’ll need to keep at it unless you want fur balls tumbling across the paths of prospective buyers. Hire a crew for weekly housecleaning while the home is on the market, says Wendy Hooper, a realtor at Coast Realty Services.

“Walls, baseboards, draperies and carpets need to be cleaned of pet hair, drool and debris and deodorized every week,” says Hooper.

The same holds true for pet beds.

3. Scoop the Poop.

Create a strict maintenance schedule for the backyard, dog run or litter box and stick to it, says Hooper. Pick up poop and hose down backyard surfaces at least once a day. Be sure to dispose of the waste outside the home.

4. Bathe Your Dog Regularly.

Your dog may not like this sudsy chore but he’s not the one paying closing costs when your house sells, so he doesn’t get a choice. The less doggie smell, the better, so ramp up the dog bath frequency.

“There’s nothing worse than showing a house and killing the client with nasty odors,” says Blayne Pacelli with Rodeo Realty.

5. Remove Pets During Showings.

If you have a cat, you may be able to put her in a carrier in the basement or garage but it’s best to take all pets somewhere else when showing your home.

“Some sellers insist on leaving the dog outside and having buyers look through the window at the backyard. This is a terrible idea,” says Pacelli.

Also, don’t restrict a cat or dog to an off-limits bedroom. Buyers need to walk around the entire property, he says.

Showing day tips: Take Rambo to doggie day care, for a walk, to the dog park or leave him with a dog sitter or friend.

6. Seek an Honest Opinion.

Ask a friend or real estate agent to do a walk-through, looking for damage, odors or pet-related issues, says Teris Pantazes, a former realtor and co-founder of EFynch, a homeowner and handyman online community. Problems to address may include:

  • Pet fur
  • Pet smell
  • Damage to wood
  • Stains on walls caused by a cat or dog rubbing against when walking
  • Pet clutter
  • Pet waste in yard

“Don’t take any issues as a personal attack on your own cleanliness,” says Pantazes. “I personally don’t care if someone has pet hair on their clothes but when selling your home, you want to be as neutral as possible.”

7. Repair All Pet Damage.

To spot pet damage, you need to think and act like your pet, says real estate agent Jeanine Boiko, who recommends getting down on all fours and inspecting your house from a pet’s vantage point.

“Some damage will be a quick fix, other damage not so much,” says Boiko.

Pantazes suggests hiring a handyman, well worth the $300 to $500, to patch wood and paint or touch up walls, doors and scratched window frames. Or, you can paint walls yourself to mask pet odors.

8. Put Away Pet Clutter.

You don’t leave your toothbrush out on the vanity or a table full of clutter for showings, and the same goes for pet beds, bowls and toys. Stash pet food, bowls, chewed-up tennis balls and Cupcake’s headless Mister Bill toy in the closet for showings.

9. Schedule Showing Days.

Hooper recommends scheduling specific days for showings and open houses. For example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am – 6 p.m. and Saturday from 12-5.

“This way, sellers can let their hair down and not sweat it every minute of every day if the dog run gravel isn’t raked or there’s puppy hair on a chair,” says Hooper.

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