Nationally, 56% of homeowners share their home with pets. And in the Asheville area it’s a pretty good guess that this number is higher. WNC people love our dogs and when it’s time to sell our home we have to balance our companion’s needs with those of a potential buyer.
Most internet articles will tell you to send Skippy on a vacation. That’s as likely as sending the kids to boarding school so the house can stay organized. Skippy isn’t going anywhere so we need to work around this. There are two aspects to selling a home with pets that we need to look at: cleanliness and logistics.
This is the time to be honest with yourself. Even if you groom your pets daily they still bring dirt into your home. Give everything a good scrub down. Vacuum daily to remove pet hair. Wipe down base trim and wall corners that your dog(s) rub up against. Remove nose prints from windows before each showing. Repair any damage that your pet has done to your home. Clean litterboxes multiple times a day and use high quality kitty litter to help mask the smell. Put away toys and remove any pee pads. Pay attention to odors.
We get used to the odor our own pets bring to our home but be sure that buyers will smell it. Use Febreeze liberally, baking soda in litterboxes and carpet cleaner on the rugs. In the summer, run your air-conditioning during showings and put a good HEPA filter on your furnace to help filter the air. Even if potential buyers are also pet owners, they will be more grossed out by other people’s “dirt” than they are by their own. So eliminate it as much as you can.
Don’t forget the yard. Buyers look for omens to tell them if this is the house for them and stepping in Skippy’s little “gifts” is not a good omen! Lastly, don’t be surprised if your pets start having house training issues. They feel your stress plus the added stress of strangers coming in when you are not home. When pets get stressed, accidents happen.
So what do you do with your pets while your home is being shown? Cats will pretty much disappear but if you have one that might be an escape artist then invest in a large dog crate or cat pen for extra security during showings. Locking Kitty in a bedroom is not a good option. We want buyers to have full access to your house and not have to worry about letting your pet escape.
Dogs are another story. It IS NOT ok to let your dog loose in the house when it is being shown. This is a very bad idea. Even people who love dogs will be nervous around a dog they don’t know and you know what? Your dog will be afraid of them, too. I don’t care how friendly and well socialized Skippy is, their home is being invaded by strangers and this puts them in a bad spot. Do I guard the house? Do I let them in? This is not fair to Skippy and it’s unfair to put him in this situation.
You have the ability to set your showing instructions to give you some lead time when your home is being shown. Give yourself enough time that you can run home and crate your dog or remove him altogether. Maybe this is a good time to check out a doggy day care in your area, or maybe a dog walker who can run over and get Skippy out of the house for an hour. If the dog must stay home and a crate is not an option, put him/her in the laundry room or a bathroom (think small, easy to view from the door) and put up a secure baby gate. This confines your dog and gives them a barrier between them and the intruder. That provides a sense of security for people and pets alike.
Selling a home is stressful for everyone. But with some planning you can balance the stresses and make the process work comfortably for all concerned.
Susan M. Young is a long standing Asheville area Real Estate Broker. She has been active in dog sports with her Golden Retrievers for over 20 years.