Selling a house? What to do with your pets ….

As  a realtor, I view a lot of homes that have pets. Rabbits, dogs, cats, kittens, fish, parrots, geckos, snakes: you name it. The one thing I think all these creatures share in common is that they’re territorial, and they get stressed right out when a stranger walks into what’s also their home.

One house I showed to prospective buyers had a big dog locked in a cage; that dog was so vicious when we came in that we were afraid it might get out and hurt us all. Seriously. (I showed another house that had a cat that hissed at us to the point where we got out of there quickly, too.)

Angry pets are not a selling point, trust me. That dog was crated in the same mudroom that we had to enter  to get into the house. It would have been far better to provide a key to the front door instead and mention the dog in the listing.  It would have minimized the stress on the poor dog, too, who was only trying to protect his owner’s property.

I’ve also been in homes where stray animals tried to get in the door. I had a stray cat push its way into a house I was viewing today. Can you imagine coming home to find a strange animal in your house after a viewing?  I’m not even sure it was a stray; it might have been the owner’s, without a collar. In which case putting something in the listing to describe the cat and whether it was allowed inside would have been helpful. (I had to chase it down and put it outside.)

If you can remove your pets while your house is on the market, you’ll appeal to a broader market. A lot of people have serious allergies. (Nothing like showing a house full of dander and fur to an asthmatic; I now carry an Epi-pen with me at all times.) If I have a client with allergies, I’d like to know if there’s a dog or cat before I walk in the door, not after. (On the other hand, if my clients are pet owners, they’ll love knowing the yard is fenced or your condo is pet-friendly — that’s a selling feature. Ask your realtor to mention that as well as any offleash dog parks.)

If you can, find a temporary home for your pooch while your house is listed or at least get them out of there during showings. My own dog, Scout,  is a bit of a nutbar: he’s very friendly but tends to  jump on people, and I have visions of him knocking a child down the front steps accidentally during a showing. How well-behaved is your dog when you’re away? Do you know for sure? Why take the chance? Veterinarians have learned there are all kinds of pets who “would never bite” who, in fact, do.

Moving your pet is stressful for your pet, for sure. But I think it’s more stressful for them to have people they don’t know coming in and out of their home.

A lot of the time, though, moving them out isn’t practical.

So if you have pets, ask your realtor to give clear instructions in the listing as to what they are and where they are, and put some notes up in case people don’t read them. A sign on the front and back doors that say “Do Not Let the Cat Out” or in the case of a friendly stray, “Do Not Let the Cat in,” is a very helpful reminder.

I had a client years ago (her house was listed by a different agent) whose cat was let out by accident during a viewing and came back pregnant. Yikes!  Her realtor had mentioned in the listing not to let the cat out, but someone forgot, so do put a note on the door. I can’t think of anything worse than coming home to find out a beloved pet is missing.

If you’ve crated your dog, ask your realtor to note in the salesperson remarks in the listing what room s/he is in so we can try to work around it. Rabbits can be  stressed very easily so let us know where they are as well. (I’ve seen some birds get pretty worked up, too.)

So don’t forget to talk about your pets with your realtor and make sure you’re clear on what the rules are going to be around showings. Oh, and make sure their cages or litter boxes are clean, will you?  The back yard we can forgive (kind of), but no one wants to buy a house that smells like poop.

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