Ahh, the complicated process of selling a house. It's stressful to begin with, but those of us with pets have an extra family member to consider. Strangers walking through your home can cause your pets anxiety, and the potential buyers might not even be pet people (the horror!) So how do you balance keeping your furry companion happy and safe while trying to sell your house as quickly as possible? Here are 6 things for pet owners to consider when selling their home to help make the process a little less hectic for everyone involved.
1. Fix any damage. This may seem obvious, but most pet owners are so used to their dog or cat being part of the family that they forget about the scratches on the baseboards or the pet smell that's become part of the atmosphere. Start by walking through your house with the perspective of a potential buyer who doesn't have pets. Is the cat litter box sitting in plain view? Did Fido leave adorable little nose smudges on the sliding door? Is there a removable pet door installed? Are there dog toys laying everywhere? Remove anything physical that shows that pets inhabit the house, and fix any visible damage. If you're not sure you can recognize this, have a friend or family member walk through with you to point out anything you might have missed.
2. If possible, board pets elsewhere when when you have a showing. The best option for both your pet and the potential buyers is for you to find a place to board fluffy when you have showings. This isn't always possible, but taking your dog or cat to a daycare, having a dog walker take them to the park for the hour your house will be occupied or having a friend or family member watch them reduces the stress on your pet of having strangers in the house while you're not home, and keeps the pets out of sight for the buyers. The last thing you want is your pet to accidentally escape or to be scared and injure the realtor or buyers in any way.
3. It may hurt your viewings, but you can restrict the times for showings on your house to hours where you will be home and can watch your pet. Another option is to ask for a few hours heads up so you can remove your pets while the buyers walk through. Taking Fido on a nice long walk or Sassy on a car ride will allow the buyers to see your home animal free.
4. Please for the love of all that's good, pick up pet droppings. Clean and hide the litter box. Pick up the doggie presents in the backyard. It seems obvious, but you wouldn't believe how many people forget or just don't do this. Potential buyers don't want to accidentally step in dog doodoo when they're surveying the backyard or accidentally kick a litter box as they walk through a utility room.
5. Remove or hide as many of your pet accessories as possible. Some things like built in dog doors will have to stay, but pick up any toys, water/food dishes, and beds. Hide litter boxes in closets if you normally keep them out. Move crates and cat furniture to the garage or an out of the way place. It might seem like overkill, but the potential buyers may not have pets and the easier it is for them to picture themselves in your house, the easier it will sell.
6. Last on the list but just as important - remove any pet odors! As mentioned in point number one, enlist a friend or family member if you need help identifying and unpleasant smells in your house. Vacuum and wash what you can and use an odor removing spray to freshen things up. If the carpet is badly stained or smells, consider getting it professionally cleaned or replaced.
The most important aspect of showing your home when you have animals is the safety of both your pets and the realtor/buyers. You want your home to sell as quickly as possible while keeping your furry friends comfortable and as stress free as possible. Remember, the easiest way to turn potential buyers into actual buyers is for them to imagine themselves living happily ever after in your house. And while it may not feel like home to you without Scout or Miss Fancyclaws, the new buyers may not see it that way. Cleaning up, repairing damage, and removing pets during the showings can help make your house more salable and keep everyone happy during the process.