• Homeowners with pets need to prepare themselves for pet-related costs prior to listing a home.
  • Agents’ knowledge of how pets affect buyers can separate those agents from other brokers.
  • Home improvements related to pets will pay off in the long run.

When it’s time to prepare and list a home for sale, pets complicate things for owners.

The damage pets inflict on homes’ carpeting or woodwork equates to additional cleaning costs for owners. Additionally, the presence of a pet — or their odors — during a walk-through can be a deal-killer for some potential buyers.

Dealing with damage or odors may not be cheap, but it will make money for an owner in the long run, according to Damian Ciszek, a broker with Re/Max 10 in Chicago.

“If they (sellers) want to achieve maximum value in their home sale, it’s best to correct the flaws themselves, rather than offering credits to the buyer,” he said.

Ernest R. Prim / Shutterstock.com

Ernest R. Prim / Shutterstock.com

Another Chicago-based broker, David Scott of Re/Max Valley Realtors, estimates that for every dollar in actual repair expense related to pet damage, a typical buyer will reduce their offer by $2 to $3.

“If a home is nicely cleaned and free of pet odors, the presence of pets is rarely an issue,” said Mark Santoyo of Re/Max Loyalty in Chicago. “However, if there is pet hair everywhere, strong pet odor in the house or pet waste around the yard, it can increase the time needed to sell the property and reduce its value.”

Pet problems can outlast the pets — especially in the case of urine, which can produce an odor that will linger indefinitely.

After cleaning carpet or replacing flooring, it is important that pet owners have a broker or friend walk the house to determine if the odors are still noticeable, as owners are often used to pet-related smells.

“Buyers will ask to leave a home immediately if they smell strong or foul pet odors,” Scott said.

Once clean and odor-free, these brokers suggest removing pets from the home. If this is impractical for an owner, taking pets out during showings or keeping them confined in crates is recommended.

“Safety is the major reason to remove pets from the home during showings,” Scott said. “Pet owners usually think their animals are harmless, but accidents do happen, and both homeowners and brokers could have legal liability.”

Sometimes the presence of pet is enough to drive away buyers, despite the lack of odors or damage.

“Buyers occasionally are sensitive enough that they ask not to see homes where certain pets, typically cats or dogs, are residents,” Scott noted.

However, many buyers have pets of their own and often show greater tolerance. It is estimated that roughly 68 percent of homeowners have a pet.

Email Erik Pisor.

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