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House Shoppers Don't Want to See Your Pets -- or Smell Them


May 26, 2020 by Marc Rapport

People who have pets tend to love them like family and consider them a full-fledged member of the household. But that doesn't mean they should be in the house when potential buyers are passing through.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), in a report released in April, says that 80% of its members recommend that pets not be in the house when it's being shown. That's the number one pet-related change recommended in the report. Number two: replacing obvious pet damage.

And, when we're talking pets, we're typically referring to cats and dogs. The simple fact, no matter how much you dig your dog, is that some people a) don't like them, and b) are genuinely, phobic-level afraid of them. Same with cats. Exotic pets, like snakes and other reptiles, may evoke strong negative responses, too, even in their crates and tanks.

It's not about you

These feelings may seem irrational, especially to the lovers of those particular pets. But they're real. And they're being felt by the very folks you want to buy your house. That's especially true if an animal is roaming free in the house or yard.

"When people are looking at your house as a potential purchase, they don't love your pets, and they don't necessarily look at the presence of animals in a potential home as a positive. In many cases, the presence of animals actually decreases a home's value in their eyes -- no matter how cute your furry friend is," says Lewith & Freeman Real Estate in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in a blog post.

Out of sight, out of mind

The NAR report says, "While they may not be the top priority for home buyers and sellers, pets are an important aspect and must not be forgotten." That's true for both occupants and landlords who decide to sell.

Here are the most common pet-related changes that NAR members say they always or often recommend to their seller clients:

  1. Take the pet(s) out of the home for showings (78%).
  2. Replace anything damaged by pet(s) (72%).
  3. Clean the home to remove animal scents (70%).
  4. Have the whole home professionally cleaned (61%).
  5. Remove pet objects (47%).
  6. Replace carpet or refinish floors (33%).

The nose knows

Their objectivity might not be the only thing sellers could lose when it comes to their pets in this situation. Their sense of smell might be compromised, too.

You don't always smell what visitors do. Have a neighbor or friend share their opinion, especially after you think it's clean. Cat urine smell, for instance, is a real turnoff and particularly hard to get rid of.

And while you can't easily completely hide the fact that you share your house with pets -- and can be required to disclose their presence in some jurisdictions -- you can remove as much as possible from sight (and don't forget online photos) while the home is being shown.

That's especially true of, say, a litter box. Plus, as the Lewith & Freeman blog says, "Nobody wants to trip on an old, slobbery tennis ball."

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