Dog people, cat people, bird people, reptile fans — many homeowners love pets. However, those pets can be a bit of a drawback for buyers.
So if you’re representing a homeowner with pets, be sure they keep these tips in mind:
Check with insurance
Pets can be an insurance liability. Ask your seller to contact their home insurance agent. Sellers may be surprised to discover just how much it will cost to insure themselves against their pet biting — or even threatening — a prospect.
Even if pets don’t bite, animals can be very territorial and threatening. Experiencing that firsthand will almost certainly send buyers and their agents running!
Crate pets privately
Some buyers and agents are afraid of all animals — even if they’re non-treatening.
Maybe they were bitten as children or saw The Birds at an all-too-impressionable age; whatever the reason, many prospective buyers are anxious around animals.
So, at a minimum, pets must be crated somewhere private so they feel safe and buyers do too.
Mitigate pet odors
For sellers, keeping their home scrupulously clean is a must, especially when the property is actively being shown, inspected or appraised.
The cat box has to go (or be discretely relocated and cleaned multiple times daily). You can also suggest that sellers install a HEPA filter in the furnace to help keep allergens of all kinds under control.
Fix pet damage
Any signs of pet damage must be repaired — before the home goes on the market.
Sellers must clean, repair and/or replace any pet-related damage such as teething-battered furniture, scratched doors or trim, urine-damaged floors or carpets — before you list their property.
Remove all signs — and smells — of pets
Sellers must overcome sights and smells that telegraph their pets are in residence.
Sellers need to get rid of the doggie door (if possible), all photos of pets, any pet hair on floors or furnishings, pet feeding bowls, pet beds, grooming tools and pet toys.
When they’ve removed everything pet-related, they should have the house cleaned thoroughly.
Suggest that, afterward, they ask a friend or neighbor to give their home “the smell test” to make sure all signs of pets or sources of offensive smells have been eliminated.
Cleaning is a must — every day
Make sure sellers understand that that cleaning floors and soft furnishings every day is essential as long as pets remain in residence.
Pets shed. They track stuff in from outside. They have accidents. Eternal vigilance is the price of keeping a home in showroom condition.
Be diligent about cleaning outdoor areas as well
Nothing kills a sale like a buyer or the buyer’s agent stepping in dog droppings, getting a whiff of cat-marked furnishings or plants, or having a bird screeching at them from its enclosure.
And if a snake slithers out of the shrubbery, you can kiss that buyer and agent goodbye!
Remove pets before a showing
Some pets are easier than others to relocate. A friend or family member may be willing to look after their pet for a few days or weeks.
As an alternative, sellers can explore day care options before listing their home for sale. If relocation — long-term or temporary — isn’t feasible, ask them to plan how to take animals (and all pet accessories) with them every time they leave for a showing.
When they’re not in use, advise sellers to keep pet necessities in a bag that can be easily whisked away — along with their pets — when they leave before showings.
If pre-showing relocations means sellers have to take pets to work, make sure they clear that with their boss before you list the house.
Ask a vet for guidance
Most animals don’t like continual change. If sellers can’t relocate their pet for the duration, perhaps their vet can suggest calming methods or medications.
In any case, it’s worth getting a vet’s advice on how to minimize the stress selling a home can put on your sellers’ pets.
Don’t mention it
Make the most of the home’s pet-friendly features without mentioning the actual pets.
Although you don’t want their pet to show up in the listing photos or telegraph its presence through odors, as the seller’s agent, you can emphasize fenced yards, nicely built-in dog doors, nearby parks (that are pet- and child-friendly) and other positives pet owners, as well as other buyers, appreciate.
Doing so turns transforms a potential liability into pet-friendly features.
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.