Tips for selling your home if you have pets

By Nicole Solari

Dog people, cat people, bird people, reptile fans — many homeowners love pets. However, those pets can be a bit of a drawback for buyers.

So if you’re a homeowner with pets, and you’re in the process of selling your home, be sure they keep these tips in mind:

Check with insurance

Pets can be an insurance liability. Some homeowners may be surprised to discover just how much it will cost to insure themselves against their pet biting — or even threatening — a prospect.

Even if pets don’t bite, animals can be very territorial and threatening. Experiencing that firsthand will almost certainly send buyers and their agents running!

Crate pets privately

Some buyers and agents are afraid of all animals — even if they’re non-threatening.

Maybe they were bitten as children or saw The Birds at an all-too-impressionable age; whatever the reason, many prospective buyers are anxious around animals.

So, at a minimum, pets must be crated somewhere private so they feel safe and buyers do, too.

Mitigate pet odors

Pet odors are a turn-off. Even pet lovers don’t want to buy a stinky house, and some people are allergic to pet dander.

For sellers, keeping their home scrupulously clean is a must, especially when the property is actively being shown, inspected or appraised.

The cat box has to go (or be discretely relocated and cleaned multiple times daily). You can also install a HEPA filter in the furnace to help keep allergens of all kinds under control.

Fix pet damage

Any signs of pet damage must be repaired — before the home goes on the market.

Sellers must clean, repair and/or replace any pet-related damage such as teething-battered furniture, scratched doors or trim, urine-damaged floors or carpets — before you list your property.

Remove all signs — and smells —
of pets

Sellers must overcome sights and smells that telegraph their pets are in residence.

Sellers need to get rid of the doggie door (if possible), all photos of pets, any pet hair on floors or furnishings, pet feeding bowls, pet beds, grooming tools and pet toys.

When they’ve removed everything pet-related, they should have the house cleaned thoroughly.

You should also ask a friend or neighbour to give your home “the smell test” to make sure all signs of pets or sources of offensive smells have been eliminated.

Cleaning is a must — every day

Cleaning your floors and soft furnishings every day is essential as long as pets remain in residence.

Pets shed. They track stuff in from outside. They have accidents. Eternal vigilance is the price of keeping a home in showroom condition.

Be diligent about cleaning outdoor areas as well.

Nothing kills a sale like a buyer or the buyer’s agent stepping in dog droppings, getting a whiff of cat-marked furnishings or plants, or having a bird screeching at them from its enclosure.

Remove pets before a showing

Some pets are easier than others to relocate. A friend or family member may be willing to look after your pet for a few days or weeks.

As an alternative, you can explore day care options before listing your home for sale. If relocation — long-term or temporary — isn’t feasible, you may need to plan how to take animals (and all pet accessories) with you every time there is a showing.

When they’re not in use, keep pet necessities in a bag that can be easily whisked away — along with your pets — when you leave before showings.

Ask a vet for guidance

Most animals don’t like continual change. If you can’t relocate your pet for the duration, perhaps your vet can suggest calming methods or medications.

In any case, it’s worth getting a vet’s advice on how to minimize the stress selling a home can put on your pets.

Don’t mention it

Make the most of the home’s pet-friendly features without mentioning the actual pets.

Although you don’t want good ol’ Rover to show up in the listing photos or telegraph its presence through odors, your REALTOR® can emphasize the fenced yards, nicely built-in dog doors, nearby parks (that are pet- and child-friendly) and other positives that pet owners, as well as other buyers, appreciate.