Monday, August 2, 2010

What to Do with Your Pet When Your Home is For Sale


If you have a cat or dog or bird, and you have a home for sale you probably face some kind of dilemma. Either the pet is traumatized by strangers, or strangers are traumatized by your pet. Or you can't get rid of the carpet stains Snowball created when he was a puppy, or you don't know where to hide Tiger's litter box. Maybe you are worried that house hunters will let Mr.Wrinkles get outside.

These and other challenges are all common concerns for people listing their homes for sale. Let's tackle them one at a time.

Probably the most common problem pet owners face is off-putting scents.  If your home has any pet aromas, you need to deal with the source instead of covering it up with air fresheners and fragrance plug-ins.

If the smells are residual, such as in the carpet or padding, having the carpet replaced may unfortunately be the only solution. Sometimes just professional shampooing will do the job. Perhaps simple DIY treatment of stains will be sufficient.

Two products that I've used with good results are Oxi-Clean Laundry and Stain Remover spray, and Woolite Carpet and Upholstery Pet Stain and Odor Remover.

If you must remove carpet or vinyl to treat the problem, I recommend painting the subfloor, whether it is concrete, plywood or particle board, with Kilz stain blocker. The oil-based version works best, but is itself pretty stinky until it dries, so make sure you have good ventilation.

What to do about the litter box ranks as the number two problem. If you'll be gone all day and a showing could happen at any time, Princess can't be inconvenienced and you need to have it available. Laundry rooms and closets with the door left ajar are the usual locations.

Make sure the door will stay ajar after the home is toured by positioning the box or something else so that the door can't completely close. It's best to stay on top of keeping the litter box clean on a daily basis. You never know when The Buyer, the one with the super-sensitive nose, will come wandering through.

Some sellers remove all signs of pets, leaving no toys, feeding bowls, gates, crates, beds or litter boxes behind whenever there's a showing.

This approach can be exhausting, and probably not necessary. One good reason to not take this route is that some buyers will have allergies and need to know if there have been pets in the home. Savvy sellers will keep the clutter of pet paraphernalia under control, though.

If you are worried about your pet escaping the home or freaking out house hunters during a showing when you are not present, there are a number of remedies. One is to leave a note explaining that typically the pet is friendly, or shy, or nervous.

Notes on exit doors are common. One woman wrote this note: "Despite what they may tell you, the cats are not allowed outside." Any special considerations about an unfriendly dog should be noted in the MLS listing. The last thing you need is a law suit, and people will sue about anything, like falling down a flight of stairs because they were distracted by a dog (it happened).  

Many people have pets of their own, and will take it all in stride. Others will be inconvenienced. Your job is to minimize the inconvenience.

My dog Misty was not a problem for us when we listed our house 
because the first looker bought it.  The house, not the dog.


Do not place any room off limits, not a spare room, not a garage. Work with your realtor to schedule appointments that work for everyone, Rex and Flicker included.

If you are present in the property when a showing is pending, I hope you can get Fluffy or Fido into the car for a ride.

If you are absent during the day, you have a few choices. One is to board the pet at a kennel until the house sells, but that is not something most pet owners or pets want to do. Another is the less costly day care solution.

If you are fortunate, you will have a neighbor who is always home, someone you can call when your realtor calls you, someone your Angel or Prince loves, someone who will come and take Rover for a walk during a showing. If you are not that fortunate, do you have a friend or relative who would be a foster care parent for your Midnight until you receive that purchase offer?

No question, pet owners who are house sellers face some complications. But none of us can imagine life without our beloved pets, so we all do whatever it takes to keep pets and house hunters happy.

For solutions to other common problems facing anyone with a home on the market, download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. You'll get answers to questions you didn't know you had!


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