How Do I Sell My Home When I Have Pets?
I get this question a lot in my work with Middle Georgia real estate sales. If you have a dog or cat, chances are you love your pet very much.
While some home owners have strict rules about keeping the pets outside, most of us allow our
animals inside our homes as part of the family. But, while pets are great for your overall emotional well-being, sadly, they do not help you sell your home.
When you decide to put your house on the market you need to do some
serious housecleaning and maybe even some repair work before you can
command a competitive price.
You want buyers to be able to picture themselves in your home. This
means giving them the space to envision living there, space that is free
from too many of your personal things – including pets and all they bring
with them. So how do you go about selling your property when you have
Here are some great tips to prepare for selling your home when you have pets.
These tips are general, and may or may not apply to your particular situation. For
example, if you have fish.
1. Talk to Your Veterinarian
Moving and preparing to move can be very stressful on your pets,
especially older pets who do not adjust well to change. Talk to your vet
about your plan and how it will effect your specific pet or pets.
Selling a home can be just as stressful for the pet as it is for the home
2. Temporarily Relocate Your Pet.
This may or may not be something you are willing or able to do, but it is
easier to show-and-sell your home (and keep it clean), if your pets are not
present when buyers arrive. If you have a friend or family member that you
are comfortable leaving your pet with, it will give you the chance to
eliminate all of the signs of having a pet in the house (which can
significantly reduce a home’s value) and avoid the pet causing further
I happen to be a pet lover too, but there are many home buyers who
are not. In fact some folks consider it a huge turn-off when looking at
potential homes they may want to own.
Pet smells turn everyone off, especially people who do not like pets. Not to
mention that some people have severe pet allergies.
3. Remove Pets During Showings
When selling a home with pets, at the very least, you should remove them
from the home when you are showing the property to potential buyers. All
the cute things your dog does will not help you sell your home, it will
actually distract the potential buyer. It will also remind the non-pet loving
buyer that pets have lived in the home.
Ideally you should have your real estate agent showing the home,
preferably while you are away. Having a pet in the house or yard can
create complications for your agent while trying to show the house, and
puts your pet at risk of accidentally getting out during the process.
There are also liability issues to deal with as well. While your dog or cat may be
ultra friendly, it is certainly possible they could be having a bad day just like you
When you leave your pet home during showings you are asking for trouble
especially if a buyer brings a young child who may be curious.
Remember we live is a lawsuit happy society! You are taking a big risk
when your pet is allowed to roam freely during showings.
There are times when it may not be possible to remove the pet from the home
prior to a showing. Maybe you can’t leave work and you just can’t come
back and remove them or you can’t find anyone who will help take care of
them during the day. If this is the case, your next best option is to either
put them in a contained space and let the buyer and their Real Estate agent
know about it ahead of time. A pet friendly cage is also an option. While
you love treating your pet like one of the family and they may not be
accustomed to this, it may be what is needed to sell your home.
4. Repair Any Damage Caused by Your Pet.
As much as we love our pets, they are still animals, and pet damage is
never attractive when selling your home. Dogs and cats will inevitably
destroy something, including carpets, furniture, hardwood flooring, walls,
doors, turf in your yard and possibly your fence.
All of this damage should be repaired prior to showing the home. This may
require some investment on your part, especially if the animal has
damaged expensive items like your hardwood flooring or walls in your
house. Regardless of the cost of repair, though, the value you will get for
your house will be well worth paying for the repairs.
5. Remove Pet Odors and Stains.
Pets have accidents; and while it is possible to get used to the pet smell
over time, new visitors to your home will be sure to notice the smells. This
is not something you want to happen. In fact, above all else, this may be
the most important tip for selling a home when you have pets.
Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on our emotions, our memory and
on our perception of things. An initial urine odor upon entering a house is
sure to stick in the buyer’s mind, and he or she will likely deduct the cost
of carpet replacement immediately from an offer as a result.
In fact, a strong odor is one of the top reasons a buyer will pass on a home.
Avoid this by having your carpet and flooring professionally cleaned, with
a focus on removing pet odors. If the staining or odors are too bad, you
may need to replace the carpet in the problem areas.
6. Clean Your Yard.
Pick up any pet messes in the yard. Have any damaged sod, bald
spots replaced and holes filled. You may be the kind of person who picks up after your pet regularly, or you may have a cat that causes very little impact to your
yard. However, a large number of dog owners give their pets free reign of
the backyard ( I am one of them). This makes life easier in the short run, but it can be hard on
the look of your lawn. Some home buyers find the yard of equal
importance as the inside of the house, so pick up the poo.
7. Erase Signs of Your Pet for Potential Buyers.
You want buyers to be as unaware of your pet ownership as possible. If
you are asked the question, you will have to answer honestly. However, you can often avoid this by taking necessary steps like those listed above.
In addition, put away all toys, bedding, litter boxes and food.
Some real estate agents may recommend removing all photos of your pet as well,
and to look and make certain the animal does not show up in any
marketing materials you create for your home. Like other forms of home
staging, removing extra pet clutter is an important consideration when you
are selling your property.
8. Prepare Properly.
Selling a home with pets takes planning and a little work, but it’s worth it in the long run! You may do all of these things and still have buyers ask about whether you
have pets. Sometimes it is impossible to hide all evidence, and sometimes
they just ask anyway. Even if this happens, remember, you have still done
everything necessary to return your house to its prior pet-free status.
Buyers will have little to complain about, because your house now looks
as good as it did before you had your pet.
9. Consider Pet Liability.
Did you know that you can be held liable for your pet biting someone while
on your property? According to Kenneth M Phillips who specializes in law
surrounding dog bites, there are more than 4.7 million dog bite cases
reported in the US every year. The average lawsuit resulting from
an injury is settled for more than $29,000 and climbing much higher when
extensive plastic surgery is needed.
If you own a pet and are leaving them in your home during showings this
should be a real wake up call! I know you are probably thinking Fido would
never hurt a flea. Is it really worth taking a chance?
If you own a dog is check your home insurance policy and make sure that
it does not exclude dog bite coverage. You will want to check the
exclusions in the coverage section to make sure it does not mention dogs
or even animals in general. Some insurance policies will exclude certain
breeds such as Pit bulls, German shepherds, Rottweilers, Great Danes
and some other breeds.
In approximately two thirds of the states in the US pet owners can be held
personally liable for injuries resulting from a dog bite. So while it was
previously mentioned that you shouldn’t leave your dog around for
showings, it can’t be emphasized enough. If you want to know how to sell
a home and you have pets, please don't let this slip your mind.
Thanks for Reading!
Jennifer Burgess, eXp Realty Middle Georgia