Pets: We Can’t Live Without Them, But Our Buyers Can

Most of us wouldn’t trade our pets for anything, but when it comes to selling your home, why limit your audience to pet lovers? I would never suggest trying to hide the fact that you have pets, but I would recommend you follow a few tips on minimizing the negative effects pets can have on your home.

Starting with the outdoors, be sure to remove any landmines that will leave a bad odor on the bottom of a potential buyer’s shoe. If your dog has torn up the landscaping, repair it and see if Fido can stay with friends when a realtor wants to show your property.

As you move indoors, before you invite realtors to bring potential buyers to the house, you should consider the following:

  • Fix door jambs (if the wood is damaged, replace it)
  • Replace window treatments (stained, scratched curtains do not impress people)
  • Repair, replace, or remove furniture (as a rule, you should remove about a third of your furniture when you put your house on the market – if you have pets, remove the third that the pet(s) use the most)
  • Repair or replace flooring (stained carpet and scratched wood floors should be repaired; odors sometimes require the carpet and the carpet pad to be replaced)

I once knew someone with so many dogs that the carpet, carpet pad, subfloor and much of the sheetrock had to be replaced before the home would sell. Clearly, you don’t want to take on extra expenses when selling your house, but to maximize the amount of money you will get out of the sale, you may need to do some repair work.

Again, do not try to hide the fact that you have pets, simply minimize the negative impacts. If you do not disclose that pets live in the house and potential buyers find out before the sale closes, you could lose the sale. If a buyer finds out after the escrow closes because of odors or needed repairs, you, as the seller, could be on the hook for expensive repairs. So, do not conceal defects, fix them.

I’ve mostly been referring to dogs and cats when I’ve said “pets,” but some people have slightly more unusual pets, like birds, snakes and rodents. If you have friends willing to keep your pets while you’re trying to sell your house (or at least when it’s scheduled to be shown), it’s probably best. A realtor I know showed a house that had a safe, fully enclosed terrarium for their pet snake. When the potential buyers entered the room with the snake, that was it. The wife turned on her heel and left. She didn’t even want to see the rest of the house. It’s possible the house wasn’t right for other reasons, but the snake clearly didn’t help.

If you cannot move your pets out of the house while it’s being shown, at least be sure to clean the cages, empty litter boxes, open windows (if weather permits), and put dogs and cats in their crate if they’re crate-trained, or outside safely confined, if possible.

Next time I’ll write about Reverse Mortgages. If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at or visit our website at If you make a suggestion I use, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery & Café. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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