5 ways sellers can minimize 'pet factor'

Don't let Fido chase away sale

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 29, 2010

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Don't let Fido chase away sale

Mary Umberger
Inman News

Psssst! It's about your dog -- he could be the reason your house isn't getting sold.

Or maybe it's your cat. Or Larry the iguana.

Sure, we love our pets. But sometimes that affection makes us oblivious to some of their less-endearing traits, such as the way they routinely kick cat litter onto the floor or how they gnaw on the baseboards. Then there are the odor issues. Perhaps their presence just intimidates potential homebuyers.

Seriously, folks, some people just aren't as enamored of the little beasties as you are.

Home sellers need to please as many potential buyers as they can. This means that, as inconvenient as it might be, you're going to have to take some steps to minimize the "pet factor" when marketing your home.

"Real estate agents should present their sellers with a list of ways to get their pet-friendly home ready to sell," said Rhona Sutter of Naples, Fla., who runs PetRealtyNetwork.com, a referral service for people looking for "pet-friendly" agents and properties. She suggests the agents even wrap the list around a bottle of Febreze as a gentle reminder about pet odors.

Five things to know about turning for-sale properties into pet-neutral territory:

1. Think long and hard about whether the animals could find a new home while the house is on the market. Sutter realizes that these days, homes might be for sale for months or even years, so boarding the animals long term wouldn't be practical.

But if there's a possibility of a flurry of showings in the early days of the listing, boarding or keeping the pet temporarily at the home of a friend or relative might be something to think about, she said.

Failing that, consider short-term solutions.

"If you're serious about selling the house, you will either take the pet with you (during showings) or put them in doggy or kitty day care for the day," Sutter said. "Get a neighbor to take care of them."

But don't stick them in another room with a sign that says, "Dog here. Don't open door," she said. "There's nothing more distracting than when people put their pets in the garage or the laundry room and someone is going through the house and they hear this great barking or meowing in the garage. A lot of buyers want to see what's in the garage anyway."

2. The real estate agent should put notes in the multiple listing service and on handout marketing materials about the presence of pets on the property, both to prepare them for the possibility and to reduce the chance that an animal will escape outside during showings, she said.

3. The traditional advice about making the house clean, clean, clean goes double when it comes to your animals.

Before the house is listed, you'll have to face what's often collateral damage in pet ownership: scratched floors (buff them or repair as needed, Sutter said) or chewed moldings.

Take a look at the walls in long hallways, she said. There's a good chance that if you have a dog, there's a long, gray line along the walls from where "man's best friend" has rubbed against it.

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