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5 Tips for Sellers With Pets

Avoid letting your pets chase away a potential buyer.

Everyone loves animals — until it comes time to buy a home. Buyers are not fans of the scratches your beloved dog made on the floors and walls, or the damage your cat has done to the carpets. Buyers who suffer from severe allergies may also be worried about removing allergens if they buy from a pet owner.

Take these 5 steps to avoid letting your pets chase away a potential buyer:

1. Move your Pets Before you List

There are many reasons to find your pets another place to stay while your house is on the market. It will be harder for agents to show the house if you’ve got a feline escape artist locked in the house while you’re at work all day, and a dog barking in a crate may drive a potential buyer out the door.

Even the evidence of pets — water bowls in the kitchen, a pet bed by the back door — will encourage buyers to look for pet damage they might not otherwise notice. Finding a place for your pets to stay eliminates many of these problems.

2. Keep your Pets out of Sight

If you can’t send them to sleep-away camp while the house is on the market, do take them with you when you leave the house for a showing. You’ll probably be clearing clutter before showings anyway. Make sure you also pick up pet toys, beds, and food dishes and put them away. You’re not trying to hoodwink potential buyers, but it’s never wise to call attention to something about your home that buyers may perceive as a negative.

3. Scrub the House

If you have a cat or a dog, vacuum the house thoroughly and brush pet hair off the furniture before you show the house. You don’t want an allergic buyer who’s sneezing too hard to look around. If you can use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, so much the better. That will help make the place more comfortable for allergy sufferers.

4. Eliminate Odors

If you’ve lived with your pets for a long time, you may have lost the ability to notice their smells. When you’re getting ready to list, clean thoroughly and change litter boxes often. A full litter box can leave a lingering odor even after you empty it, so get ready to empty it more often for a while. When you think your house is in good shape, ask a friend to come over and take a good whiff. If they can smell your pets, buyers will notice it too. Enzyme cleaners, open windows, odor absorbers, and air fresheners can do wonders, but you may need to resort to fresh paint in certain areas if your pets have had years to imbue the walls with their odors.

5. Clean up the Yard

Your pets are completely housebroken? That’s great! But perhaps they’re doing their business in the yard, creating a hazard for a buyer walking across your lawn. Make sure the yard is cleared of pet debris. If your pets use an out-of-the-way corner of the yard as a latrine, you may need to do some odor elimination there, too. Some enzymatic cleaners come in a form that can be attached to the end of your hose. When you spray down the offending area behind the garage, the enzymes will help eat away at the odors.