Home sellers often want to know what to do with their pets when prospective buyers come over for a viewing, but the answers aren’t all that simple. There are the immediate and practical issues like dogs misbehaving and indoor cats sneaking out during the showing, but in more general terms, living with pets causes wear and tear on the house, and buyers know this fact. It’s complicated. So, for the pet lovers out there, here’s a guide to preparing your house for sale.
Your best option is to relocate all your pets when you put your house on the market. You can have friends or family take care of your animals, or put them in a boarding kennel or just move yourself and your pets to your luxurious vacation home or your rich Aunt’s home. Few will find any of those ideas realistic, obviously, so you’ve got to manage with your limited options.
Animals can behave defensively in unpredictable ways when strangers enter their home. You’re probably not insured if one of your pets attacks a buyer or a real estate representative, especially if that pet is a dog that has deemed to be violent. Compensatory damages can really add up for personal injury cases. For this reason, and it’s best to get your animals out of the house if at all possible. Consider house showings a good opportunity to take your dogs on a trip to the park or the beach for some exercise. In the worst case, crate your dogs and cats in carriers during the showing, and post Please Do Not Disturb signs.
Beyond the safety fears, some people just don’t like pets. If you want to cast the widest net when selling your house, you’ll want to hide the evidence that furry critters live there.
Clean up after your pets, and clean daily. Brush your shedding animals, vacuum the carpets and furniture, sweep the floors often and keep their eating areas tidy. Put away pet toys. For those carpet stains, hire a professional cleaner. If you decide to scrub out the stains yourself, try enzyme cleaners.
Cat boxes need special attention. At the very least, change the litter regularly, but a better solution is to remove them while showing the house. Stash them in a garden shed in the backyard, for instance. The worst thing you can show would be a dirty cat box in a bedroom closet.
Remove the odours. Cat urine is the best way to keep your house from selling to anyone, ever. This point cannot be emphasized enough. You’ve got to deep-clean your carpets and furniture, and even your ductwork. Don’t even think of trying to cover it up with air fresheners because it won’t work. Living with those animals, you can become desensitized to the smells, but a homebuyer will have a nose for it. Get a friend or a neighbour to visit and check your cleaning progress with a whiff test.
Repair, replace or conceal furniture damage, like the arm of that chair your cats like to treat as a scratching post. Redo the threadbare carpet on stair steps that are now showing the wood beneath. That back door where Fido scratches to get out needs to be repainted too. It’s probably time to remove the stained drapes that are shredded to strips and replace them with shades,and swap out the scratched screens while you’re at it.
Some evidence of pet presence is easy to remove or reduce. Don’t include pets in the pictures you use to advertise your house, and take down the pet pics from your fridge. Close and seal up any pet doors. Store your pets’ food and water bowls somewhere during showings. Get rid of that raggedy cat tree.
Repair your yard. Cover and smooth out any holes dug, and pick up any droppings. If your yard has been torn apart beyond hope, consider investing in new sod, wood chips or some sort of other cheap backyard makeover remedy for sellers.
If you’ve just got too much evidence to conceal, why not market to pet owners? If you’ve got chickens and other farm animals in the backyard, for example, go whole hog and promote your house as a hobby farm or sustainable homestead.
Some common sense will help you figure out the details. Just pity the homeowner with a child who loves raising pet rats and snakes.
Written by James Stevenson and posted on Friday, March 9, 2018