When you live in the home you are selling, showing it can be work. People looking to buy want to be able to picture themselves in the home, not see your life on display. Removing family photos and some oversized furniture to give the home more buyer appeal is fairly straightforward, but what is a seller to do when they have pets? How do you make your home “buyer friendly” when you have four-legged family members to consider?
Buyers are there to see the home, not your pets. Animal lovers or otherwise, the sight, sound, and smell of your pet may distract, upset, or turn off potential buyers. Pet parents must be fanatical cleaners to remove all evidence of the pet before any showing: pet waste, fur, odors, even toys, food dishes, and bedding should be removed, and the pets themselves. How can a buyer appreciate the backyard when they are terrified of Fido? How can they enjoy the lovely den when the reptile cage creeps them out? How can they fall on love with the home when Fluffums sends them into a sneezing fit? Think of it this way, you take the rest of your family out of the house during a showing, you should take your pets out too.
The best solution would be to move your pets from the home entirely. Separation is tough for humans and animals, but finding a temporary place to house your pets during the selling process can solve a lot of buyer-related pet issues. If you have your new home ready, family, friends, or neighbors willing, or finances for professional pet care, do it. It will vastly simplify the cleaning and logistics that allow you to show your home frequently and reduce the stress on you and your pets.
If sending the pooch to grandma’s house for an extended visit is not an option, then creative strategies are in order. Take Spot for a long walk, schedule the vet visit for Whiskers, take them for a drive, visit your favorite pet store, let the kids take Winkie the Wondermouse to school for show and tell; anything to get them out of sight and mind for buyers. If they have to stay, containment is key. Kenneling pets during showings and moving them outside, into the garage, or into a low-traffic secondary room will reduce buyer’s exposure. Post a note on the door to warn showing agents about the presence of animals so that no one is unpleasantly surprised.
Pet odors are a particular challenge for sellers. Room air fresheners are not a good choice to mask smells because you can trigger allergies in some people. Enzyme cleaners work well at removing the odors rather than masking one smell with another. Cleaning individual items, like pillows, carpets, or drapes, and opening up the windows can also do a lot to freshen the atmosphere. If that’s still not enough, try baking. Fresh bread, cookies, or pie create a welcome homey aroma (and a tempting snack as well!).
Selling a pet friendly home creates extra challenges. By working to remove pet items and contain as much pet-related contact as possible, you can help buyers see the home at its best, without any animal interference.
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About David Goldstein — David Goldstein is an Owner and Founding Partner of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.