Managing Pets When Your Home is on the Market

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Real Estate

When buyers are viewing your "move-n ready, just unpack!" home for sale - there are some things you should know about how to manage your pets.  We should first divide pets into three categories:  dogs, cats, and "other" such as fish, hamsters, lizards - you name it.


If you are not at home during the day, your dog could complicate showings - it is a liability for both you and the showing agent if the dog is roaming free.  Even the oldest, sweetest, calmest pup can be stressed by strangers coming into their home.  You can crate them if they will tolerate it - but for some dogs, doggie daycare may be a better choice.  If your dog will bark or growl from inside the crate, they may scare young children and turn off their ready-to-buy parents.  


Any dog items such as dog beds, toys, dishes, etc. can add odors and raise questions in the buyers' mind.  Over-sized dog bed?  Your buyers may carefully examine the hardwood floors to see if they bear scratches and scuffs from your furry friend.  Raised dog dish for an older dog?  They'll wonder if the smell in the carpet is maybe, just possibly, from an elderly dog that doesn't always make it to the outside when they need to pott


Cats can be less problematic from a management standpoint because they typically don't bite strangers...  But inside cats can escape through doors left open, friendly kitties being petted too hard by young children can bite or scratch, and many people are allergic to cat dander.  The best way to handle it is to make sure the showing agent's instructions say there is a cat in the home.  Post instructions at the home with reminders:  Please do not let cat out, etc.


Two concerns lead when it comes to cats in an on-market home:  odors from smelly cat food and uncleaned litter boxes.  Maybe Fluffy can eat chicken instead of mackerel for a few weeks.   If you can, put litter boxes out of sight and use an odor-masking kitty litter.  If you can't hide - clean frequently to avoid the "ick" factor.


Small caged pets or fish  pose different concerns.  Cloudy fish tanks or smelly cages do not make a good impression on the buyer.  You want them to notice your small pets, and move on without a second thought or sniff.


Many of us know what pets add to our lives: unconditional love, teaching children about responsibility and the "circle of life" (courtesy of that fun fair goldfish that lives only for a couple of weeks).  The key to success when your home is on the market is to understand that some people and some cultures view pets differently.  Be proactive:  bathe your dog more frequently to minimize doggie odors, brush the cats when they are shedding so the hair is not on the furniture, and remember that soon this will all be a memory!