Reality check: Your furry buddies might be family to you, but to potential home buyers, Fido and Fluffy are a sign that your property could be infested with fuzzies, fleas and scratched-up flooring. Even if your four-legged kiddos are as cute as can be, you’ll need to take some extra steps during the staging and selling processes to ensure your home is viewed in the best light possible. And if you’re an agent? Your job could be doubly hard, because your future commission advance may well hinge on convincing your clients that pets aren’t always a selling point.
1. Send the Pets to Daycare
It seems like an obvious first step, but you’d be surprised how many people either fail to consider their pets’ presence or insist that “the kids” get to stay home during an open house. The problem is that you simply can’t gauge how potential homeowners will react. Some people are afraid of dogs, others hate cats, and there’s no telling how your normally docile animals will react to a parade of strangers. Have friends or a petsitter take the little ones out for the day and you’ll have a lot less potential drama to deal with.
2. Hide the Animal Accessories
Lose the leashes, put away the litter boxes and tuck the doggy beds under the couch or in a closet. All those items are reminders that this home has suffered from wear and tear, thanks to lots of little paws and furry bodies, and you don’t want that to be the first thing people think of when they’re considering putting an offer in on your property.
3. Invest in a Deep Clean
Bring in a professional carpet cleaning company, give the tile floors a good mopping, and vacuum and/or steam clean the upholstery. If you have pets, chances are you have pet smells, too — whether you can still detect them or not. It’s important that you remove the source of any stray smells rather than covering them up. An excessive amount of air freshener or collection of stinky candles may irritate sensitive noses or even act as red flags (buyers are smarter than you think), so trade in the Glade for an enzyme cleaner that breaks down protein-based stains like urine, blood and food so you can get rid of them for good.
4. Spruce Up Outdoor Spaces
Dogs are natural diggers. And runners. And they just love to bury bones. All of these adorable activities become a lot less endearing when they result in a yard that’s torn to bits and a listing advance that reflects that less-than-stellar selling price. Before you open the doors for your open house, hire a team of pooper scoopers to do away with any lawn bombs and patch up disheveled grass with sod or soil as needed.
5. Get Smart with Marketing and Make that Commission Advance Count
If the property for sale has been modified in a way that makes minimizing the existence of pet residents practically impossible, stop fighting and start featuring everything that makes the home an ideal buy for someone with their own posse of pets. Showcase the built-in pet door, point out the secure fencing and mention how easy it is to clean pet hair off those gorgeous travertine floors.
There is one caveat in all this: Some municipalities have laws requiring that sellers inform buyers that pets live in the home. Know where your local authorities stand on the issue so you don’t unwittingly hold back required information. Otherwise, consider pet-related maintenance part of the staging process, and be meticulous about your cleanup efforts – the amount of your eventual commission advance may depend on it.