One of the biggest mistakes that a home seller can make is assuming that their loving family pet can just “hang out” when potential buyers come to view the home. Pets can be a large distraction during a home showing or even a safety issue. As a home seller, you want to minimize distractions for buyers and maximize the number of people that your home appeals to.
Many buyers are afraid of your animals
No matter how friendly and gregarious your pets are, there is a segment of the population that is terrified of them. Sometimes it comes from being attacked by a pet as a child, other times it may be cultural where they are unaccustomed to animals in the home. In both cases, having your pet present may needlessly raise anxiety levels in your visitors.
I had a buyer who was terrified of cats because of her childhood experiences. We went into a home that had a white fluff ball of a cat who just followed us quietly and watched us. My buyer was so stressed out that I had to take Mr. Bigglesworth into a different room and held him on my lap like Dr. Evil while she toured the home.
Pets aren’t always clean
Obviously you want your home to be spotless when you list it for sale. If you have pets, I’d take it a step further. Ask your agent (or a friend) to give your house the sniff test. If there are strong pet odors that you no longer smell, maybe get the carpets cleaned or wash any pet bedding. Obviously the litter box needs frequent attention as well.
Put away as much evidence of the pets as you can. You don’t need large boxes of toys or empty food bowls sitting around. The more you downplay that pets live in the home, the better off you are to appeal to non-pet lovers.
Agents sometimes won’t show the home
I love pets of all sizes. I’m also not generally frightened by large or seemingly aggressive animals. That said, I’ve gone to the front door of a house with my buyers, got ready to unlock the door, but stopped when there was a large dog going berserk behind the door. I will not, under any circumstances, open the door when I don’t know the dog’s nature or intentions. My dog is about as friendly as they come, but he is totally territorial at home, and I would never have him present for strangers to visit without me being there.
Prevent distractions for the buyers
You want buyers to your house to focus on evaluating the home. Distractions are never a good idea, whether that is lots of family photos or a pet trying to get their attention. If you went to the dealer to buy a new car, do you think it’s effective to have a golden retriever roaming the showroom to greet customers? Same concept applies here.
Take your pets with you or board them
For dogs, the easiest solution is to take your pets out of the home when buyers are coming for a showing. Either take them with you in the car or go for a walk.
If you aren’t home to get the dog out of the house, you may consider boarding the dog when you bring the home on the market. Maybe have a friend take them for the debut week/weekend and allow buyers to have unfettered access during that time. Crating the dog at home can also be a solution, provided that the dog doesn’t go crazy when visitors show up.
Skittish cats who will hide the whole time aren’t much of an issue. Lazy cats also aren’t too bad if they just lounge when visitors show up. Aggressive or overly-friendly cats might be best crated or taken with you. Remember that there are also buyers who aren’t afraid of cats, but may have terrible allergic reactions when they encounter one.
Selling a home when you have pets can be hassle, but the more you plan for it, the quicker you can get your home sold and get the process over for Fido and Fluffy.