Animal Angst: Pets and Real Estate

I love my dogs. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. This might create a problem if I were trying to sell my home.

If you have (or have had) pets in your home and want to sell, please talk with me before you take the first step to fix any issues you think may exist. And, if you think there are no issues, we need to talk about that, too, before you put your house on the market.

Pet Odors

Most of you know that smelly carpets will impair the sale of your home. But what, exactly, do you do about that? Please don’t jump into the easy and obvious fix of putting in new carpet without carefully digging to the root of the problem. Beyond the carpet and pad, some odors may come from subflooring (wood or concrete) and others from drywall and baseboard or draperies. Some of these can be detected with black light inspections. Worst case: You replace the carpet; smell isn’t gone. Several weeks after multiple showings and now offers, you find yourself pulling up the brand new carpet and cutting out wall board to fix the problem in order to get the house sold. Don’t go there!

Smells may be in things that aren’t going to be sold with the house, like that cozy chair which no one sits in any longer except old Ruff. Let’s buy Ruff a new, washable dog bed and get rid of the chair during the time the home is listed for sale. Likewise, clean the litter box daily and double-check it just before showings. (Best thing: empty it and take it away with the cat during showings.)  You may have become accustomed to these smells. The buyer and their agent haven’t. Let’s strategize.

Disclose: You’ve had a pet in the past and you think you’ve gotten rid of the smell. When you fill out the seller property disclosure form, let the buyer know that pets have lived in the house in the past. It won’t hurt and disclosure of the existence of a pet in the house in the past will protect you when during the next rainy season that buyer’s very sensitive nose picks up a faint odor of Fluffy.

Pet Safety

Too often, I see a notice on houses I’m planning to show: “Please don’t let the cat out.” Well, what if the cat does get out? Watching a cat and guarding it from sneaking out a door is NOT the buyers’ agents’ job. Pointing out the features of your home and watching their buyer/client is their job. Babysitting your cat or dog is incompatible with that.

More on Pet Distractions

“We’ll just gate Bonzo in the laundry room,” or lock him in the garage or the shed, or put him in a crate. No, please. Bonzo will bark. Bonzo will be a distraction. The buyers and their agent can’t wait to get away from that barking (or whining), so they are not going to linger and enjoy your home.

An aquarium full of snakes will drive buyers out of the home. An overly large aquarium full of lovely fish will distract from the room you want the buyers to consider buying. Let’s talk!

Pet Liability

“Fido is very sweet with everyone, and he won’t run away if someone leaves the door open.” That is when you are around. None of us really knows what our pets do when we are not around to give them assurance. Don’t take the chances that (1) Fido will dart out the door in fear if a stranger opens it; (2) the elderly prospective buyer will trip over your cat who insists on rubbing against her legs; (3) your Yorkie will nip the three-year old who insists on pulling her tail.

And back to locking up your dog in the garage, shed, laundry room, etc.  The prospective buyers are likely to try to sneak a peek – and get a bite instead. Or your precious puppy will scoot out and away.  Don’t take those risks! Plus, you want them to see all the rooms, don’t you?

If there is a pet in a home that I’m asked to list, or a smell from one in the past, this topic will be on the agenda for our first meeting. Pets can hinder the sale of your home and create liability for both of us. Let’s figure out how to approach this problem together. Here’s my Flagstaff real estate website.

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Flagstaff, AZ 86001
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