A common contradiction that arises when buying and selling homes is that while many of us are pet lovers and keep pets in our homes, most people don’t like to see evidence of a pet in a house they are looking at buying. The goal when staging your home is to make it as easy as possible for buyers to picture themselves living there, and pets can be an obstacle to that. From shedding hair to food bowls to litter boxes, pets make their presence obvious. However, there are things you can do to minimize your pet’s footprint in your home and make it more appealing to buyers.
1. Find a temporary alternate home for your pet.
You may find it hard to think about being separated from your pet, but the fact is that it’s much easier to keep your home clean and tidy for showings if your pet isn’t there to shed hair, generate odors, and create messes. Asking a friend or family member to harbor your pet for a few weeks while your home is on the market will give you a chance to eliminate signs of your pet from your home. ‘
2. Remove pets from the house during showings.
If you’re not comfortable relocating your pet while you sell your home, you should at least consider taking your pet out of the house during showings. Since you have to leave the house anyway, take your pet with you—on a long walk or a car ride. Having a pet in the house is a liability to your showing. You don’t know whether potential buyers might have an allergy, or perhaps a child who’s scared of animals. There’s also always the possibility that your pet, spooked by strangers in the house, will make a run for it. The safest thing to do is just to remove them from the premises.
3. Confine your pet within the home.
If for some reason taking your pet out of the house with you is not an option, your next best solution is to put them in a contained area of the home, such as the basement or a cage, and let your realtor know where they are before the showing. For many people, pets are considered part of the family, and caging them up might feel contradictory to your usual practice. But when your home is on the market you sometimes have to make compromises in order for selling the home to be your priority.
4. Repair any damage.
As much as we love our pets, they can be hard on a house, leaving scratches in hardwood, stains on the carpet, or dislodged turf in the yard. It’s important to repair all this damage before you start showing your home. Not only does it reveal telltale evidence of a pet in the house, but it can make your home look poorly maintained. The extra value you will receive from the sale will be well worth your investment in repairs.
5. Eliminate “pet smell.”
This is probably the most important item on this list. You’re used to your pet’s odor, but a potential buyer is not. Likewise, though the buyer may be a pet-lover and have a pet of their own whose odor is familiar to them, that won’t prevent them from being turned off by the unfamiliar odor of your pet. Strong odors are one of the top reasons buyers cite for passing on a home.
Before your home goes on the market, have your carpets and other flooring professionally cleaned in addition to deep cleaning the rest of your house. This process is most effective if you also send your pet to an alternate temporary home so that the smell can’t build back up again, but at the very least a professional cleaning will set the reset button.
6. Hide pet paraphernalia.
If your pet remains in the home while it’s on the market, make it habit to start vacuuming at least once a day and put away all signs of your pet during showings: food bowls, toys, pictures of your pet, litter boxes, cages, and leashes. Make sure that when you take pictures of your house for the online listing, there are no visible signs of your pet in any of the photos that could turn off a buyer before they even set up a showing.