As a pet lover – I currently have three dogs living in my home. Trust me, they are all large, very messy, furry creatures – I understand the struggles of trying to sell a house with a pet.
The American Pet Products Association (APPA) states that approximately 68% of people own a pet. Pet owners or not, many people simply don’t want to see in-your-face evidence that pets live in the home they are considering purchasing.
There are many reasons for the home buyers’ negative feelings about your pets. Here are two.
Fear of Animals
Pets make some people very uncomfortable and even afraid. For example, my father, a strong, invincible man is actually quite “wary” of cats. Growing up, I desperately wanted a cat of my own, so I managed to sneak one into my house to live in my room unnoticed for a while.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.
It is not the pet hair that is the problem. People who are allergic to pets have super-sensitive immune systems that react to harmless proteins in the pet’s dander.
DO NOT use air fresheners, scented candles, ammonia, or bleach to mask your pets’ odor because the number of people with environmental allergies is always growing.
So What is The Solution?
Well, ideally, it would be great if you could send your pets to live elsewhere while your home is on the market. It would save you a lot of time and trouble.
But I know that is not a reasonable solution for the vast majority of us. I certainly wasn’t willing to board my three beloved greyhounds while I was trying to sell my house.
Instead, you must erase, as best you can, all evidence that a pet lives in your house. I know, I know, everybody loves your dogs but trust me, there are a lot of people who don’t.
This is highly imperative during a buyer’s market.
Remember, first impressions are crucial.
Evidence that a pet lives in the house especially smells and carpet stains or a cat rubbing up against a leg, will make buyers form an immediate negative impression of your home.
Tips For Removing The Evidence
This goes without saying, but CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. Keep your home spotless and always vacuum before a showing – floors, rugs, and upholstery.
Make Sure Your Pet is Not Present in Your Online Photo Presentation
It may look cute to have your cat on the couch. Still, if someone has a natural aversion to cats, you have already eliminated them as a potential buyer before they have even seen your house.
We know you will remove your family portraits from the house. So make sure your pet’s pictures are also taken away.
We teased my parents because their beloved (now departed) dog’s professional portrait was much bigger than any kids’ or grandkids’ pictures.
People take their pet pictures seriously but it’s best to remove them and all your other family portraits.
Scan Your Rugs Carefully and Remove Any Pet Stains
If the stains can’t be removed, consider removing or replacing the carpet.
Buyers will look at your stained carpets and form an instant negative impression of your home. Once that negative impression is in the buyer’s mind, it is tough to shake it! That stained and smelly carpet may cost you a deal!
Remove Your Pet’s Bowls
I used to put mine in the dishwasher before a showing so I could easily find them later.
Hide The Pet’s Beds
We have three huge beds for my three eighty-pound “prima donna” greyhounds, who won’t lie down unless it is a plushy surface.
Before showings, we simply hauled them down to the basement, folded them over, and piled them up in a far corner.
It was the best we could do, but much better than having them lying all over the place.
Again, make sure the pet beds are not in the online photos.
Remember to regularly clean your pet’s beds.
Pack Up and Hide The Cat Tree and Other Pet Toys
Think of this step as part of your de-cluttering routine.
Repair Any Scratches in Your Woodwork
To remove the damage, I sanded the woodwork smoothly and then re-stained the woodwork with a handy can of matching stain. You have to look very closely to notice the difference.
If your trim or doors are painted, use a patching compound to fill in the gouges, a quick sanding and paint would also work.
Clean The Litter Box Everday
Clean it faithfully. Every. Single. Day. And hide it when you have a showing. Preferably in the garage or in the corner of the basement.
A large Rubbermaid container should help. You could simply pop it in and place the cover on it tightly.
Don’t Forget Nose Streaks on The Glass
I’m sure my dogs aren’t the only ones, but they can’t look out a window without leaving streaks from their wet noses all over the glass.
During our last home selling experience, cleaning off the glass doors became one of the last things I did before jumping in the car with my canine companions!
I can’t help it, but my big wet nose leaves smudges on glass doors and windows ALL THE TIME!
Dealing With Pet Smells
You want to aim for a light clean smell.
This is a significant consideration when you are selling your home. You want to aim for a light, clean and neutral smell for your home. Deep cleaning is an important start.
Avoid products with strong scents, including ammonia or bleach.
I use vinegar, a natural and cheap disinfectant, and odor remover in a 50/50 solution with water as a general cleaner throughout my house.
The vinegar smell disappears very quickly, and I barely notice it at all now. Some people state that leaving a bowl of vinegar in a stinky room will remove odors.
Removing the lingering and distinctive smell of cat or even dog urine can be challenging. Try using an enzymatic cleaner. Enzyme cleaners contain special biological enzymes that break down the proteins in urine, reducing or even completely eliminating the smell.
However, these cleaners may not work if other chemicals were used beforehand to treat the stain.
Steps on Removing The Smell of Your Cats Urine
- Saturate the area well with the enzyme cleaner.
- Allow the area to dry for several days.
If the enzyme cleaner doesn’t remove the smell, use a vinegar solution.
- Combine one part of white vinegar and one part of the water in a bowl or spray bottle.
- Use a bristle brush to saturate or spray the soiled area well and scrub. The vinegar will neutralize the smell of ammonia in your cat’s urine.
- Use paper towels or a clean rag to blot up as much vinegar solution as possible.
- After you’ve blotted the area, let the room air dry completely.
For severe and lingering smells, you may have to take some extreme steps, such as having your carpet and upholstery professionally cleaned.
Painting your walls to seal in odors will freshen up and modernizes your space.
Another option for lingering smells is to have your furnace and ductwork professionally cleaned.
Don’t forget to replace your air filter.
Showing Your House
If you must leave your small pet, such as a rabbit or cat, in the home during a showing, make sure you tuck its carrier or cage in a corner with a note warning buyers not to disturb your pet.
You do not want someone to put their finger in a cage and get scratched or bitten. Better to be safe than sorry.
Dogs will need to be taken out of the home before a showing.
No matter how friendly you believe your dog is, no dog is entirely predictable. It can be a liability issue for a home seller if something happens to a buyer due to your unattended dog.
Leaving your dog in the garage or backyard is not a viable option because it prevents buyers from inspecting all of your property.
The best showings are in empty homes so that the buyer can take their time and check out your entire house.
Remember The Yard
Make sure you pick up all the dog poop in the yard.
I still remember the backyard that had dozens of little dog poops strewn around while looking at a house I was interested in. I can’t remember the backyard at all, just the landmines on the ground I was trying to avoid!
Dog urine can leave burned and brown spots on your backyard grass. The last time we had our house up for sale, we dealt with these unsightly areas by raking up the dead grass, adding a bit of lime and soil, and re-seeding the bare spots.
Ready to Sell Your Home?
Selling a house is hard work, and adding pets to the mix adds more labor and effort to your routine.
But by following these tips, at least you will be confident that you are doing everything you can to put your home’s best face forward!