How to Sell Your Home When You Have Pets

By Cindy Aldridge


Photo by Pixabay

Buying a home is a multi-sensory experience. Purchasers sniff the air, run their hands along the walls, and listen for creaks as they cross the floor. Like you, they realize that a home is the largest single expense one can undertake. They want to get their money's worth. But sometimes the presence of pets can start alarm bells ringing in their heads unless you take the following steps.

Understanding the Other Point of View

As a pet owner, you love your furry friends dearly. So, naturally, you expect others to warm up to them as well. It’s easy to think, "Who wouldn't love old Red? Just look at his floppy ears and adorable oversized snout!" Sadly, though, not everyone feels the same way. Here are some reasons why, according to the home selling website The Balance:

  • Negative experiences with animals. For example, some people fear dogs because a canine attacked them earlier in life. Others remember visiting a pet owner's home and encountering objectionable odors or stains.

  • Differing perceptions. To you, your pet is a beloved family member. You celebrate her good qualities and overlook her flaws (if any). To some people, though, your animal companion is just a four-legged creature who may or may not use your home as her personal litter box.

  • Allergies. Some people are allergic to dogs or cats. If a buyer asks ahead of time if you have pets, then the ethical thing is to 'fess up. As to whether you're legally obligated to do so, we suggest checking with your state attorney general's office or real estate regulatory agency.

  • Simple dislike. Believe it or not, some folks are anti-pet because...well, just because.

Now that you better understand the opposite viewpoint, let's look at ways to make peace with potential buyers where your pets are concerned.

  • US News suggests having a friend with a sensitive nose go through your home. If she mentions even the slightest hint of pet smells, then you should clean, clean, and clean some more. Carpets require special attention, as all types can retain odors. Average costs for carpet cleaning are $174 nationally, a small price to pay when a real estate deal is at stake.

  • Remove objects like litter boxes, pet beds, and pictures of your animals, at least during showings. This may sound callous, or even disloyal; but remember, a home sale is at stake.

  • If possible, send your pets on a mini-vacation while your home is on the market. If you have a dog, then take her to a kennel or a trusted friend's house. Another option is to have a family member walk your pet while prospects are touring the home. A cat is more problematic. It's unlikely she will consent to a stroll around the neighborhood, so you may need to take Tabby for a ride during the showing.

  • Avoid trying to mask odors with air fresheners. This will alert buyers that you're trying to hide something. It may also aggravate a prospect's allergies. You want your home to smell clean, not perfumey.

Pet owners who take care of their home have every reason to believe it will sell at a fair price and within a reasonable time frame. Use these tips to help you in the process. With any luck, you'll soon close the deal and have plenty of cause to celebrate with your family.

Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Compass is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland. 5471 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 300, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 | 301.298.1001

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