Cats, Dogs, and Showings…Oh my!

It’s time to sell your house and soon there will be potential buyers and their agents in your home…but what about your dog that has stranger anxiety? Or the kitty box that needs to be accessible for Muffin or she’ll leave cat turds in the living room just in time for the 4 o’clock showing? Will your pet snake freak out the family with small children? Is the dog door and 50 gallon fish tank a turn off to potential buyers? Worst case scenario…my pet Mexican Redleg Tarantula bits someone on the neck during a showing. Can I get sued if they opened the cage?

We love our pets, whether they be dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, hedgehogs, or lizards—but that doesn’t mean that potential buyers want to see said pets (or any evidence of them) when looking at a home they’re thinking of buying. Remember, buyers want to visualize themselves (and perhaps their own pets) living in the home, not you and yours.

The best way for you to ensure the safety of your pet (s), and to ensure the comfort of your buyers is to remove your pets during showings. You don’t want to risk someone else accidently stepping on a pet or letting it outside where it can run away. Yes, it’s not the most convenient but, when it comes to safety and making the most amount of money on your home, it’s the way to go.

And while you can take your dog for a walk or drive around with your cat during a showing, pets in cages are another story.  Your lizards, snakes, geckos, spiders, and other exotics are normal to you, but remember, after a buyer has seen half a dozen other homes without these pets, your home will be known as “The Jurassic Park House”. Make sure the cages are clean and secure and that no one can stick a finger in a cage. Your agent can include notes to showing agents warning about the location of pets in the event they can not be removed.

  • Check Your Home Insurance – Although you know your pets would never hurt anyone, they could scratch or bite a potential buyer whom they mistake for an intruder on their territory. You could be held liable for any harm your pet causes, so make sure your homeowners insurance covers you for incidents like these if you are leaving any animals at home during a showing
  • Prepare Your Yard – Buyers will walk around your yard, a stroll that will be ruined if they
    step in poop or turn an ankle where your dog likes to dig. Perform a poop patrol before each showing. Double-bag the waste before disposing, so your garbage cans don’t smell when buyers walk by. Fill all holes and sprinkle grass seed on top. Lastly, make sure your yard is a green oasis—not a brown-and-yellow dustbowl created when pets pee on grass.
  • Deep Clean and Deodorize Your Home Before Listing – Not only does a layer of pet hair on floors and sofas make your home look messy, it can trigger allergies and send potential buyers sneezing and wheezing out the door. If a bacteria-eating pet odor remover doesn’t banish all traces of cat or dog urine, you might have to hire a rofessional service to clean carpets or rugs or, consider replacing the carpet prior to listing.
  • Repair Any Pet Damage – For example, repair or replace chewed stair railings and steps, scratched doors and door facings. This includes exterior repairs (holes in fences or yard).
  • Remove All Signs of Pets – Like kids, pets (or rather, their caretakers) tend to accumulate
    lots of stuff—leashes, collars, toys, water bowls, food, cute sweaters, and costumes for Christmas and Halloween. But no matter how adorable you may think it all is, to buyers, t’s just clutter. Make sure you stow pet paraphernalia in a cupboard or closet. Put dry ood bins in a laundry or mud room. Wash pet beds to remove odors and dirt, and only isplay them if they’re attractive.

For tips on moving with pets, be sure to check out my handout I have on my webiste on Moving With Pets.

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