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How to Sell Your House When You Have Pets

How Do I Sell My Home When I Have Pets?

Selling your home when you 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

Selling your home when you have pets.

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

and I.

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.

Cleaning up after your pets.

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

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