12 Tips for Showing a Home with Pets

One of the biggest stress-makers in selling a home is the question: “What do I do with my pets?” Here are some great answers!

While greeting a staging client’s low-key, sweetheart-of-a-dog, she mentioned that she’d NOT chosen an Agent who’d insisted that her dog be permanently removed from the home until the home sold. (The home was clean and smelled fine.) It prompted me to poll home buyers with the following question:

“Buyers, assuming that a listing is clean and smells neutral, how do you feel about pets in the home? To what degree would it affect your decision to buy if you love the home? If you have allergies, would it make a difference if you knew that allergens could neutralize within toleration levels roughly 30 days after the pet is removed?” 

I received a TON of responses—we’re passionate about our furry family members—which I’ve distilled into the following tips:

1. Keep the pet groomed and the bedding clean, reflecting that you take care of the pet and your home. Tuck bedding under a bed and out of sight from the room’s entrance. Febreze any fabrics that dogs frequent. To properly neutralize a concrete surface that has been soiled by a pet: first scrub with a water/bleach solution, let dry, then seal with a concrete sealer. If replacing soiled carpet, replace padding, too, and seal any stained sub-flooring.

2. Don’t chain your dog where it cannot be sheltered from the sun, or kennel it in your 100-degree garage. Buyers will become more concerned over the animal’s welfare than about your home, and it will cast you in a negative light.

3. If your cat tends to dash through any open door, leave notes on BOTH sides of EVERY door (including the garage) at EYE level: “Please don’t let the cat out.” If it’s okay to let the cat out (or in), write that on the note instead. That way, buyers don’t spend the next hour tracking down your escape artist.

4. Post a note on the front door letting buyers know where your barking dog is located, in case they assume it’s on the other side of the door, ready to pounce. “Fifi is rather overprotective so she is crated in the laundry room. Feel free to say hello!”

5. Don’t place the litter box on a carpeted surface or in a bedroom area. The best place is within a laundry room or basement, the opening turned away from view. A door stop will keep the door open, preventing accidents.

6. Ultimately, you know how your pets react to stress, change and strangers. Don’t assume your mild-mannered dog will react mildly to strangers entering your home without you present. Your dog will experience the doorbell ringing and strangers unlocking the front door to let themselves in. People don’t like being jumped on by friendly dogs, so protecting buyers and your pet’s anxiety is equally important. If your sleeping cat will lash out at friendly outstretched hands, post a note, “Unfriendly cat. Do not approach.” If your cat will hide at the first sound of a doorbell, all is well.

7. If you can, it’s always best to take your dog(s) with you during showings. Cats typically hate car rides, so leaving them behind is usually best. Sometimes a neighbor can take your dog into their back yard for showings, or perhaps a family member can take care of it for a while, especially if they adore each other. A day at the groomer’s and doggie day care are options, too.

8. If animals will be removed for showings, take full advantage of it and remove every trace of them ever having been in the home: hide bowls, bags of food, toys, bedding, crates—everything. Store large, open bags of dog food in the garage, and if it was stored in the house, be sure the smell of it has dissipated. Be sure to pick up any “land mines” in the yard, to prevent it from being tracked into your house by unsuspecting buyers.

9. Spider and reptile aquariums should be covered and well-hidden as they are the least-appreciated of pets.

10. Parakeets often die if they are sent away for bird-sitting, so leave them be. As for parrots or other large birds, place a sign on the cage, “I bite! Hard!”

11. It is unreasonable to expect sellers to relocate fish aquariums for showings, but keep them clean and odor-free. If a motor is loud and distracting, purchase another quieter model.

12. Regarding artificial scent, if the home has been well-maintained and is clean, show it off—NO scent is better than artificial. Should a little cover-up be needed, limit them to ONE PER FLOOR. Too much scent will have buyers wondering what you’re trying to cover up. Plus, it may be a scent they detest, or gives them a headache. Do NOT leave candles burning.  

Meeting your pets is one of the perks of my job. I bring a calm energy to the chaos and stress they may be feeling around your energy. I’ve read that if you TELL the animal what’s going on and what their job is (to love on you!), they calm down: “We’re going to have boxes everywhere, and things are going to be moved around, and you’re going to feel my stress, but you don’t have to do anything about that. Your only job is to relax and give me kisses.” Then, don’t forget to kennel them on moving day, in a back room, so they don’t try to escape in all the chaos.

Copyright © 2021 by Cynthia Gentry Black
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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