Selling a House Where Pets Have Lived

Cat on sofa
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Almost everybody loves pets—except the person who is looking at your house. People love their own pets, but other people's pets carry a stigma when they are looking for a house.

If you are worried your pet may cause your home to not sell as well as you'd like, you should look into how much marketability you might lose with a dog or cat in residence while trying to sell your house.

Why Don't Home Buyers Like Your Pet?

Pets make some people very uncomfortable. Not everybody grew up with a family pet or enjoys outings at the zoo. Also, your pet's playful actions might be their pet's aggressive side. Pets and owners are all different, and many buyers will walk away from a house with a perceived aggressive animal.

It's not only dogs that instill fear in people. All kinds of silly wives' tales and superstitions involve cats. Pets are not always predictable, either. An otherwise well behaved and people-loving dog might not like something about one person.

Some buyers might imagine that your pets bite, jump, vomit, claw, spit-up hairballs or are just plain hyper and bad—which is not at all like their pets. Their pets are perfect.

The Preferred Solution for Showing a Home

An option that is one of the best you can take is to relocate your pets while your home is being shown. Putting them in the backyard, in the garage or in another room that you keep locked is insufficient and distracting for the potential buyers. For the best results, you should remove them from the house. You could try:

  • Letting a friend or relative care for your pets
  • Boarding them at a kennel
  • Treating them to a pet spa
  • Taking them to work with you for the day
  • Taking them for a drive while the house is being viewed

Overcoming the Bad Pet Vibes

If you decide you don't want to move your pets and accompanying items out of the house, there are ways to minimize any objections or nuisance factors (real or perceived).

Keep the pet toiletries out of sight and impeccably clean. Nothing turns off buyers faster than opening the door to the laundry room and being greeted by a full litter box. A closet with a surprise litter box in it might send a potential buyer scurrying away.

If there are stains and odor spots in your house, you'll want to have them removed. Hire professionals to remove the stains. Buyers will spot them and form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the house. If the stains can't be removed, then you should have the flooring replaced.

Odor spots should be addressed by professionals unless you can clean it yourself. Try enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution or Nature's Miracle—if these don't work, you'll need to call a professional ozone company. Pet urine is one of the worst smells to encounter in a home you are looking at.

Remove Signs of a Pet

You may be required by state law to disclose that pets have lived in your home, but you're not obliged to advertise that fact. Removing signs that you have a pet is simply smart practice. Why turn off a buyer at the get-go? The first impressions are the most important.

  • You should remove online photos of pets in the house on the furniture
  • Put away food and water bowls when not in use
  • Vacuum religiously, every day
  • Pick up pet toys and put them away
  • Pack up cat trees and other cat paraphernalia
  • Remove photos of pets from the refrigerator, walls, and table-tops
  • Pack up all cages, carriers and other tell-tale pet signs

Showing Your House With Pets Present

While you should make every effort to remove your pets from the house when it is being shown, it might not always be possible. Put your pets into a carrier or pen, notify your agent, and attach a note warning the buyers to not disturb them.

The last thing you need is somebody sticking their hand inside the enclosure and getting bitten or scratched. You can't predict how your pet will react when locked up and alone with a stranger reaching in.