You are selling your house and doing everything that you can think of to get it ready: cleaning, de-cluttering, and making repairs. It’s a project and you are in it up to your elbows when it occurs to you that you need to figure out what to do about your golden retriever and 2 cats. This is an important consideration and it needs to be figured out BEFORE your house goes on the market.
The first step is to address any odors in your house that your pets may have created. If you use an in-door litter box, make sure that it is always cleaned and fresh before your house is shown. If you have pets who have made “mistakes” in various corners or on rugs, then you need to wash and scrub those areas to get rid of the smell. In some cases you may need to replace carpeting and pads. In the worst case I have dealt with, not only did all of the carpet and pads need to be replaced but the under flooring had to be treated. My client used vinegar wash over several applications and it did work. I believe that there are also products sold that specifically address these odors. Consult a professional and do what you need to do to get rid of the smell. Urine literally assaults the senses when you walk into a house. Remember that all important first impression? Kiss it good by if you have pet odors in your home. So clean, clean and then clean some more. You will be rewarded with a sale that happens more quickly and at a higher price than you would have gotten if you had not taken the important step of getting your house clean.
I also want to discourage the use of fragrances to block or to mask odors. It simply does not work. Instead of smelling the cat, the house is overwhelming with the smell of whatever fragrance you have applied and now the question becomes WHY? What is the home owner trying to cover up? These fragrances do not generally appeal to buyers and I have worked with buyers who had an allergic reaction and had to immediately leave the house. There is simply no way around it. If your home has pet odors, you have got to clean it up.
Be sure to vacuum before showings to remove pet hair. Pick up the chew toys and put them away in a basket or cupboard.
So now you have the house ready, what will happen when it is shown?
The key here is to communicate to your Realtor how best to protect your pets. If you have cats that can not go outside, how many of them are there? Ask your Realtor to put into the Realtor instructions in the RMLS that you have indoor cats and how many of them there are. This way when the Realtor arrives to show the house, they are prepared to be careful as they open the door to not let any kitties out. I also recommend a small note taped to the front door to remind them of the cats as they enter. If you have a cat who is an escape artist who will be lurking at the door, tell them. They better prepared that they are, the less likely a cat will accidentally get out. The same holds true if you have a cat who can go outside. Let them know. If a cat gets out who is allowed out, but the Realtor doesn’t know it’s OK, they may panic over the cat having gotten out and this too will distract from the showing.
Dogs, because they are bigger, are a more complicated issue. If you have a dog who is protective of your house and who will growl, bark or otherwise threaten, then you need to remove the pet. There is just no other option. I believe this holds true even if the dog is otherwise contained. A dog who is barking, growling, or jumping at the back windows will make the showing a failure. And put yourself in your poor dogs place. This animal loves you, loves its home, and is only doing what instinctively it feels is right. To have strangers coming through its home is difficult and stressful for the dog. So help yourself and help your dog by making arrangements to remove the animal.
If your dog is gentle and friendly and you are absolutely certain it will not be noisy or overbearing, then it is OK to have it in the house. It is quite common for a dog to be kenneled in the garage or a utility room. For very sweet dogs it is also common for the dog to simply be inside. If this is the case, put a note on the door and let your Realtor know so that it can be in the showing instructions. Be sure to let the Realtor know the type of dog and the dog’s name. This way the Realtor will be able to enter the house and have the dog approach them with it’s name being used. I have had clients who put out treats for the dog that Realtors can use to reward the dog for its good behavior. But even in this circumstance I still think it is better to remove the dog. The buyer looking at the house may have a fear of dogs. Even a very sweet dog can be a distraction. This is your call.
I think it is really important to plan for pets. What you don’t want is to have something happen that ruins the showing of your home, or worse, something happen that is bad for your pet. Problems can be avoided if you plan ahead and be sure to communicate with your Realtor your concerns and your plans for making your pets safe and your showing successful.
Merry Christmas to Fido and Fluffy!