We Americans love our pets. They are cherished members of the family. They give us unconditional love and pure joy. They are great companions. Owning a pet has even been shown to help lower blood pressure. And … they can really stink up your house.
When I talk to Sellers about selling their home, this is often one of those hard conversations I don’t look forward to. But I am there to help them, and we have to discuss the good, the bad, and the downright smelly. Hey, our little Yorkie, at only 5 pounds, gave off, shall we say, an “aroma” that could compete with a dog ten times her size.
I am never there to offend anyone, but I am there to discuss ways to help Sellers achieve their goal, which is to sell their home for the very highest and best achievable dollar in today’s market. If there is a doggy odor, or a litter box smell, it can really affect your bottom line. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are a few tips to help overcome any buyer objections to pets in your home:
Prepare ahead of time
- Before you place your home on the market, go out and purchase products you will need right away, as well as supplies you will need to have handy while your home is being shown to prospective buyers.
- Use a vacuum cleaner specifically designed to pick up pet hair. Thoroughly vacuum every floor surface. Use a crevice tool to get into corners and the hard to reach carpeted areas of your staircase.
- Odor eliminating spray. (You can find this wherever pet supplies are sold.) Spray each room of the house, particularly in areas where your pets stay most of the time.
- Carpet cleaner. Use a good brand that promises deep cleaning. Take a good look around and clean any pet stained areas. If there stains that cannot be eliminated, your Realtor may suggest you replace the flooring in those rooms. Trust me, it will cost you less to replace carpet than the discount the buyer will expect.
- Buy a large lint roller that will pick up pet hair on your furniture.
- Pet shampoo. Keep your pets smelling fresh and clean.
- Pet brush. Brush your pet’s coat often to keep down shedding.
- Pet carrier. It is always a good idea to take your pet with you whenever the home is shown. But often that’s difficult or even impossible. When you can’t take your pet with you, keep him in a kennel or pet carrier.
Get a second opinion
Ask a friend or neighbor to come by and give you a totally honest and unbiased opinion. If she tells you there is still a lingering odor, try to find the source and eliminate it. If your home smells, it won’t sell. Buyers buy with all their senses, and if your home has an odor, it is a major turn-off to the buyers, and they will likely move on to another home.
It’s show time
Before buyers come through to tour your home, put away the doggy bed, the food bowl, the toys, etc. If you have a cat, place the litter box in a hidden away area of the house. Property condition disclosures here in Louisville ask Sellers to disclose what animals have lived in their home, so it is not something Sellers are “hiding” when they put things away. But when everything is put away and the buyers do not see the pets when they walk through, it is “out of sight, out of mind”, and this frees them up to look at the home instead of looking with more scrutiny for pet stains and floor scratches. The goal is to get them to fall in love with the home – not look for reasons not to buy.
Take your pets with you
As a pet lover myself, it is hard to imagine that some buyers might have an aversion to dogs, but many do. And there are a large number of folks who are highly allergic to cats. You don’t want to miss any opportunity to show your home, so whenever you can, take your pets with you when the home is shown.
For most people, it is often just not possible or practical to grab up the pets and drive around with them when the home is shown, so the next best thing is to kennel them before you leave for work each day. I know this is a hard concept for some pet owners, especially if their pets have always had the run of the house. (If this is totally new to your pet, you might want to get them used to the idea a few weeks ahead of placing your home on the market.)
Sometimes sellers enlist the help of a family member or neighbor to help take the pets during showings. And I have even worked with sellers who have taken their dogs to “doggy day care” while they are at work.
Your hard work will pay off
When your home looks its very best, smells great, and you have eliminated all possible objections to a sale, you are helping to ensure your best chance at your highest and best possible offer. And keep in mind: if you don’t do these things, it can really chew a hole in your wallet.