When the Wag Isn’t a Friendly Welcome: How to Sell a House with Pets

Chance the dog and Sassy the cat are your four-legged children. They’re well-behaved and those smooshed “I-woke-up-like-this” faces are pretty darn cute. However, no one loves your pets like you do.

Pets become a problem when you’re trying to sell your home. First, you’re liable if say, your dog bites a visitor. Second, home viewers may have any number of reservations: Maybe they just don’t like animals that much. Maybe they’re scared of dogs or are allergic to cats. Maybe your house stinks and you’ve become immune to the smell.

No matter the situation, you must be sensitive and accommodating if you want your home to sell swiftly. Here’s what to do.

A dog taking a bath to help sell the house.
Source: (Autri Taheri/ Unsplash)

Develop a Plan of Action

Steam Clean the Carpets

Rent a Rug Doctor and do it yourself or use one of those mailer coupons you have stashed away. Whatever you decide, clear out the room. You can leave the big furniture in place if needed. Shampooing the carpet will not only draw out odors from the occasional pet accident, but also deal with those random sticky spots that have attracted dirt over the years.

Keep the Clutter Picked Up

The dog has more toys than your human children ever did. If you don’t already have a designated box or cupboard, assign one now. Store everything from leashes and food to meds and toys inside. For the toys you want out, place them in a basket out of site. This way Chance can access but they don’t dominate the room or create a minefield in your living area.

Invest in Some Air Fresheners

Glade is your best friend when it comes to selling your house. “Vanilla Lavender” and “Cinnamon Holidays” beat “Kitty Litter” every day. Not into artificial scents? Invest in a reed diffuser.

Even if you don’t have pets, air fresheners will hide the scent of stale laundry, anything funny in the fridge and the bathroom trash you forgot to take out last night. It’s the ultimate form of forgiveness when showing your home. In addition to plug-ins or countertop units, Febreze the couches and any sports equipment you have stored.

Keep your dog clean to help sell your house with kids.
Source: (Nikolay Tchaouchev/ Unsplash)

Create a Game Plan for Showings

Say your Realtor calls you on Sunday morning and says she wants to show your house at 9. If you already have a game plan, then barely awake, un-caffeinated you can handle the situation without a lot of thought. Here are a few ideas for your home selling game plan:

Ask the neighbors: If you have neighbors who are willing to take your pet for a half-hour or so, bring them over there just before a showing.

Walk to the nearby coffee shop: Take a walk with the dog, or stop at your local coffee shop if you need to kill some time. Read the newspaper or do the crossword and then head home.

Bring-your-dog-to-work day: If your workplace is pet-friendly, why not bring your four-legged friend with you?

Sit in the car: You can always stick Sassy in the car with you. Sit across the street in the church parking lot with the A/C on and listen to your audiobook while the showing is going on. It’s not the most ideal but it works in a pinch.

Crate them or use the laundry room: If your pet is crate trained, putting them in their crate for an hour or two will be no big deal. Though the laundry room should be accessible to viewers, it’s the best temperature-controlled room to block off if you need to keep pets contained somewhere inside.

A vacuum used to help sell a house with pets.
Source: (jarmoluk/ Pixabay)

If You’re a Dog Owner…

As a dog owner, you have unique needs. Try these to accommodate:

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum

Dog hair is on your couch, bedspread and on every black sweater and coat in your closet. It’s time to locate all those wacky-shaped vacuum attachments you thought you’d never use. The stair attachment can really get into the nooks and crannies of the spindles and banister. The upholstery attachment can go over your couches and chairs. Suction off the baseboards full of settled dust and dander. The dog itself may be endearing but the dog hair isn’t. Eliminate all evidence one lives there, if possible.

Use the Pooper Scooper

If you’ve been to a park on a Saturday morning and stepped in a steaming pile of fresh poop, you understand. It probably ruined your walk.

If someone who’s viewing your home steps in a pile of poo on your front lawn or when they go out to check out your backyard, it’s likely to ruin their experience too. Buy a pooper scooper or rake to keep the area clean. Better yet, just go outside with your dog and pick up after them with a plastic bag.

Arrange Care

Yappy barking isn’t the most welcoming to home viewers, and unfortunately even crating or putting your pets in the laundry room doesn’t address the noise. Call your local doggie daycare when you put your home up for sale to see if they can take him on the days you have showings. Unless you live in a competitive area, your sitter can probably accommodate your pop-in’s. You may love that wagging tail by the front door when you get home from work, but your guests won’t be as thrilled (or forgiving about getting scratched and jumped on).

Source: (Erik-Jan Leusink/ Unsplash)

If You’re a Cat Owner…

Be Allergy-Conscious

Hair is bad with dogs that shed, but it’s even worse with cats. Go over the room carefully — vacuum the floors and the drapes, lint brush the furniture you can’t reach with the vacuum, and dust every surface. Get into all the corners and baseboards.

Fifteen percent of people are allergic to animals, according to Canidae, and allergies to cats are the most common. Nothing says “this house isn’t for me” like a skin rash, itchy eyes and an asthma attack.

Hide the Litter Box

If when you walk in, you can smell the litter box, you’re at a disadvantage. First impressions are a big — B.I.G. — deal. Tuck the litter box into an area where you can close the door. The laundry area works, or better yet, a separate closet with a subtle pet entrance. If anything, buy the slightly more expensive odor shield stuff.

Consider Safety

Your cat is like most cats — she doesn’t like people and would rather just do her own thing. But don’t place any bets on her demeanor. Say viewers waltz in your front door and leave the door open for a bit. If Sassy isn’t an outside cat, you don’t want her getting out accidentally.

You also don’t want her to go bazerko because someone is intruding on her space. You certainly don’t want to be liable for a giant cat scratch. Crate her in the laundry room or ask a friend if you can bring her over for a bit.

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If You Have Other Animals…

Cats and dogs aren’t unusual, but if you have other pets, evaluate them according to noise, containability, social acceptability and stinkiness. Ask yourself these questions:

Does it make noise?

Fish — Nope, makes bubbles instead!
X Parrot — Yep, repeats heated arguments and curses.

Is it contained?

Horse — Yes, in a designated horse corral!
X Ostrich — No, just running loose in the front yard.

Is it mainstream?

Rabbit — Yes, a completely socially acceptable pet.
X Snake — NO! Unless you’re selling property in the reptile wing at the zoo?

Does it stink?

Ant Farm — Nope, busy but odorless.
X Rat — Yep! Gross.

If you live on horse property, no one will think twice if you have horses. If you have a more obscure pet, see if an animal lover friend is willing to take it while your house is up for sale. Though it’ll be hard to be away from your pet, you won’t have to worry every time someone comes to see your place.

If you don’t have that option, put your pet in a room where they are not front and center, and let the real estate agent know in the notes of your listing. There are very few people who will appreciate opening a front door to see a giant tarantula staring back at them, and those who are afraid of spiders will surely appreciate the warning.

Tons of people have pets, so dealing with them as you sell your house is not a new problem. A top-selling agent in your area can give you more tips about how to deal with pets during the sales process.

Article Image Source: (Alexandru Sofronie/ Unsplash)

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