Selling Tips & Tidbits

“When selling your home pay attention to pets.” Aristocratopholous

Yes… I just made that up. The puffy clouds & Oregon sunshine are making me a bit silly!  The idea was that it might sound more believable coming from an ancient philosopher than a Realtor, though (?)

It’s interesting to note that the truth is:  Realtors can sometimes be experienced as school-marm figures by Sellers already so overwhelmed with preparatory “chores”.  We get it.  You’re being asked to consider doing things you perhaps don’t really want to do, & therefore… hmmm… “Maybe we don’t really need to:  _______.”  Fill in the blank. You know what I mean.  When overwhelmed we all try to cut down the “list”.   Some items on that list are critical, however. And some are so normal to us as individuals that we may be tempted to cross them off.  Remember, though, that what is normal to you in everyday living is not necessarily normal to others. You know this from walking into a friend’s home for the first time and recognizing the difference in how people live:  Smells from ethnic or unfamiliar cooking.  Crumbs on the counter or stove that are invisible to them but not to you. Weeds along the front walk that they pass everyday & therefore do not notice.  That big, brown crack in the white tile right as you enter the home.

Today I wanted to talk a bit about pets and how they can affect the process of selling your home.  Here we go-

  • Odors- Some people are very sensitive to any pet odor, others are just sensitive to BAD pet odors.  Either way, when it comes to selling your home, there actually is no good pet odor.  Now, I have a dog and a cat, and have had more numerous and elaborate combinations of animals in the past as I love them… This is one area where you really need to check yourself as a Homeowner/Seller.   You can’t let your emotions get the best of you.  We all know that saying: “Love me, love my pet.”  …Throw it out the window if you’re selling (I mean the saying of course : ).  If there are odors, the best solution is to find the source and eliminate it.  Quickly.  I.e., if your cat thinks that the shag carpeting in your bathroom is just like cat litter (first of all… don’t have shag carpet in your bathroom… : )  PLEASE cut it out and put in tile or some other hard surface.  If the cat comes back out of habit, at least you can quickly eliminate the problem with paper towels and Nature’s Miracle.
  • “Accoutrement” Don’t leave pet toys strewn about… at least if you know you are having a showing.  I know that my dog is much happier if I leave him some toys, or a rawhide bone to have on hand while I’m gone.  Some people absolutely love those corrugated cardboard scratching thingies for cats, and granted, you’d rather have your kitty scratching on that than on your living room furniture.  HOWEVER, if you are selling your home, the last thing you want is bits of cardboard lying all around the dining room table, or for people to trip unexpectedly over a rawhide bone, or to have the showing Realtor moving slimy toys to facilitate easy passage through hallways etc.  Besides… it is  drawing the eye and attention to plastic rib-eyes instead of your home!   Buy a basket (with a lid) where you keep dog & kitty toys, and if you must leave something out, limit it to one, please.
  • Pets at Home- Leave instructions if your pet will be there during showings.  This is assuming that you would not have a vicious dog or cat at your home if you were expecting potential Buyers to view it… I don’t think I need to go into the negative legal impact it could have on you as a Homeowner.  That said, let’s assume you have a gentle dog at home, or cat, and you need them to stay indoors.  Please say so on your listing.  First of all, I have had clients who had serious dog phobias from former attacks etc., and we have been surprised in the past when opening a door and having a dog there to greet us that we were not expecting… That potential Buyer will never see your home- They’re headed to the car before ever going inside.  Your Realtor will tell you these things of course, but I just wanted to make the point that, first of all, people need to know if they will be encountering a pet, and secondly, when people (Realtors and potential Buyers) enter your home and an animal is at the door wanting out, they can sometimes be persuasive! (They’re so cute and sneaky that way  : )  So… please leave instructions as to whether the pet must stay indoors or can be let out.
  • Pets Not At Home- If at all possible, remove your pet (especially dogs) for showings.   Sometimes you can leave them in the backyard, but know that your main aim is for people to really concentrate on your home & how their furniture will look there etc. If a pet is in the backyard, not only will they command precious attention, the potential Buyers will very possibly never enter your gorgeous backyard… never walk under that pergola or see the detail work on the back of the home.  Also, bottom line, you want to make it as easy as possible, and remove as many inhibitors as possible for a potential Buyer who might want to see your home *today*.  I have said in this forum before that my advice is most always to opt for showing instructions that say “Call 1st” if the home is not vacant.  This allows for a call & a voice mail message with an expected showing time or time “range”  if no one answers the phone (i.e. if you’re at work or not home etc.)  Maybe your sweet dog has a doggie friend who he or she would love to play with during the daytime, or maybe a human friend who works from home and would love the company while you’re at work.  Think out of the box! My clients who have pets to remove and therefore require “appointment only” showing instructions inevitably experience less frequent showings and this just translates to taking longer to sell.

Hope this has been helpful information for you.

As always, thank you for reading the Property Blotter!

Very Best,




Showing Tips

So you’ve put your house on the market and are planning to jump on the spring bandwagon and take advantage of the thawing market. Let’s talk about how best to show your home & what your options are.

You’ll be talking with your agent about the listing’s “Showing Instructions”. You have several options including “Call 1st”, “Call Agent”, “Call Owner” and “Appointment Only” among others. My recommendation to my clients is to veer toward the “Call 1st” option if at all possible. My reason for this is that you want to remove as many barriers as possible to getting a potential Buyer into your home. While there is often very reasonable rationale for choosing others of those options, the one that makes it easiest for your potential Buyer is “Call 1st”. This Showing Instruction lets the Buyer’s agent know that he or she may call your number, and if no one answers, leave a message with the approximate time of the desired showing and the request for a call back that if that time will NOT work for you. This makes it very easy for the Buyer’s agent and the Buyer…. and that’s what you want! It also gives you the opportunity to say “No… 2PM this afternoon would work better for me.”

Now let’s talk about how you leave your home when you have a showing. Obviously you want your home to he “the one” for the Buyers looking it over. I know you’ve heard all the admonitions before about making things neutral so that Buyers can picture themselves and their “stuff” there; taking down family photos/neutral wall colors/cleared counter-tops etc. I also want you to consider those things that are probably invisible to you as a homeowner… Pretend you have never been in your home before, and walk in the front door. Is the entry open with a clear view to the rest of the home? Is the porch littered with shoes or other “normal” things like miscellaneous gardening objects (trowels, gloves…), dead potted plants, etc? Are your toothbrushes in cups on the counter for visitors to admire? Dentures in a glass? Are your medications out on the counter in the bathroom or your vitamins out on the kitchen counter?? Is there a stinky kitchen sponge decorating your sink? Are those pesky box beetles trying valiantly to get in under your back door & warm up a little? (PLEASE call Orkin…) How about your mud room… is it muddy? If so… transform it into a showplace for cleanliness w/ hooks for clothing & bench-seats for cleaning up…. but leave the mud for peoples’ imaginations. The whole thing is about creating ambiance. I’ll say it: “The way you live in a house is not the way you ‘sell” a house.” Just do a little “I’ve never been here before” exploring around your home… it will probably amaze you!

How to make it all easier?
There are professional organizers who can come in and help you with streamlining your home. I’ve used this method with clients, especially busy ones. It lifts a huge weight off a Seller’s shoulders during the process of sorting and deciding what is staying and what is going into storage during the sale period or to Goodwill.

Once that phase of preparation is complete, I suggest hiring a professional cleaning company to come in and do a once-over on your home. It is more of what we discussed above; things you don’t tend to notice as you live in the house. After this, attempt to keep things the way they are… hopefully streamlined and clean. Then just keep a bottle of window cleaner handy and go through the house lightly touching all the sinks’ hardware so it shines before you leave. Once the initial work is done in preparing your home for sale, maintenance is key, and not as hard as you think.

My main message here? You’ve heard all of the obvious advice on staging, colors etc. Remember to look at the little things. They make a big difference!