I love animals -- and have a particular soft spot for dogs, especially my own wonderful rescued welsh terrier -- so keep in mind that the advice in this post is all about helping you get your house sold, not neglecting your little furry family members. But as an experienced real estate professional, I have to admit: pets and home sales just don't mix.
I've bought and sold many homes over the last few decades, and whenever I put a house of my own up for sale, I prearrange for my pets to have a little holiday with friends and family. Come list day, when your home first hits the market, you might consider boarding your pets elsewhere; at the very least, make sure they're absent during showings and open houses.
Here are seven other reasons to reconsider keeping pets off the premises if you're trying to sell.
Bad First Impressions
I'll begin with a personal anecdote: if a burglar were to climb through a window in my home, my dog would likely come over, sit by his feet, and try to play. Yet, my sweet, mild-mannered pup gets whipped into a frenzy whenever someone comes to the gate and rings the bell. One day when I was selling my last home, my realtor arrived unannounced with two very interested buyers. But when he rang the buzzer, my dog went berserk -- barking, howling, and yelping. Needless to say, the buyers were so thrown, they wouldn't even enter the house despite my realtor's pleas -- and they never came back. Remember, you only have once chance for a first impression.
Pets Distract Buyers
Pets are a very personal part of your home, and your goal should be to depersonalize your space prior to sale. You wouldn't leave your Uncle Frank sitting in a rocker in the living room while buyers wander through the house, so why would you leave your pets running around? After all, they're family members, too! Just as you remove personal photos and mementos, you also should remove all pets.
People Have Phobias
The last thing you want is to attract the perfect buyer, one in love with your house, who also happens to be highly fearful dogs, snakes, or other critters. In cases like this, if your pet is still in the home, that perfect buyer may not get much further than the front porch. Any other time, your pet can rule the roost, but during the critical selling period, be hyper-aware of potential anxieties and aversions -- and plan accordingly.
Darn That Dander
Even when the furry friends have left the building, some of them remains. Be mindful of allergy-causing dander by super-cleaning your home from top to bottom -- especially the carpets -- to remove all traces of hair and dust. And don't forget to remove the litter box, which can also be a trigger.
Surprise Showings Happen
Avoid them by insisting that the realtor gives you at least one hour's advance notice before a showing so you have time to get out of the house and take the pets with you!
Locked Up Pets Are Unhappy Pets
Many sellers will make the mistake of thinking that they can simply lock their dogs and cats (and bunnies and ferrets) in a bedroom, basement, or garage during a showing. First, this restricts access for potential buyers who can't see the room that's on pet lockdown. Second, confined, unhappy pets will make noise distracting buyers. And most importantly, if the buyer or the realtors decide to take a peek in the off-limits room, your pet could be out and about in a heartbeat.
Let's take a moment for all the lizards, snakes, geckos, spiders, and other exotics out there. For some buyers, these types of animals are a little... out there. And I can promise you, after they've seen ten other properties without pets, those crawling critters will be the thing about your home that they remember, branding it in their minds as the 'Lizard House.' Please don't let your love for rare pets overshadow the attributes of your home.
ALL: Share your experience about selling your home with pets in the comments!