Selling a home is stressful enough on its own. Selling one when you have pets can be even more stressful. Should you move the pets out of the house while it is for sale? How can you hide pet toys and food dishes? Will pet odor be a concern? These are all issues that you might face.
When selling your house, the common advice is to minimize any signs that your home contains pets. Among the concerns about pets when staging a home are that buyers might be afraid or nervous around pets and may be concerned about what your pets have done in the house.
With that said, there are reports of pets actually being an asset to home sales where pets made certain buyers feel comfortable. WikiFido has also suggested that you may be able to market a pet friendly home to pet lovers. Personally, I wouldn’t count on that though! Here are what real estate experts recommend for staging your house when you own pets.
Relocate Your Pets
As much as it is painful to be away from your pets, real estate experts consistently recommend relocating your pets while your home is for sale. For example, Coldwell Banker recommends asking friends and family to help out or seeking out a nearby kennel. Of course, sending your pet away for a length of time will be difficult, but it can increase your ability to get your house sold. At a minimum, you should try to remove your pets during open houses and when the home is being shown.
Remove or Hide Beds, Toys, and Other Signs of Pets
The idea here is to hide all signs of pets in your house. If you have relocated your pets, you can simply send their favorite items with them and pack away the remainder. But if you are removing the pets only for showings, then you must also be prepared to hide all items during that time. Some sources, such as WikiFido, recommend that you go as far as to seal up dog doors and remove all pictures of your pets from the home. If you must leave some items outs, make sure that they are attractive.
Remove Stains and Kill Odors
Let’s face it, pets smell, and a smelly house is less likely to sell. Realty Times recommends that you remove all pets stains and vacuum daily to remove odors. They also suggest opening windows and vents since a closed house holds in odors. I once had a real estate agent tell me that baking bread in the house would add a natural pleasant scent that could cover up pet odors, but she did not recommend baking right before showings as the odor, even though pleasing to most, could then be too strong.
Cat litter boxes present a special problem. The best option is to take the box outside. If you cannot do that, make sure it is covered and hidden.
Also keep in mind that in states with disclosure laws, you may be required to disclose any odors or stains that cannot be removed.
Consider Your Staging Photos
I once looked at photos of a house online that was for sale by owner and found that many of them had dogs in them. In some cases, the dogs were hard to spot and, being dog lovers, my husband I had some fun playing “find the dog” in the photos. Then, to our surprise, we spotted the two dogs almost hidden in one photo in what appeared to be a compromising position! We were amused, but needless to say, having pets in your photos could be a turn off to some buyers.
Remove Damaged Furniture
Stained or damaged furniture can tip off buyers about pets in the home. It also is simply unattractive. As one expert notes, damaged furniture can give the impression that you don’t care about either the furniture or your home.
Don’t Forget the Yard
The last thing you want is a potential buyer stepping on dog poop in the yard! Don’t forget to clean up and check for signs of pets outside as well as inside.