Pet Owners: Preparing Your Home For Showings

Selling your home requires so much work! (But you know that, right?) If you’re preparing your home for sale, and if you’re a pet owner, well, there’s even more work to do. You’ll face additional challenges before and during the showings.

Two big-ticket items must be dealt with: a thorough clean-up of pet odors, stains, or damage, and some pre-showing preparation. The day-to-day clean up may not be enough. In addition to cleaning up quickly after your pets, think about the following 7 tips:

  1. For new stains, use paper towels and old newspapers to sop things up. After some drying, rinse the area thoroughly with cold water. Consider a shop-vac or wet-vac.
  2. It’s very hard to rid furniture, carpets—even clothing—of pet hair or fur. Vacuum often, of course, but you may need to take a lint roller to heavily travelled areas.
  3. Pet odors won’t go away through the use of candles, incense, air freshener, or too much bleach. Some people may find the new smells unbearable. Others may have an allergic reaction.
  4. Bringing out the heavy artillery should only be considered with caution. Steam cleaning, for instance, uses tremendous heat. That heat may simply lock a stain in place.
  5. Pet urine is very acidic: that can permanently stain or ruin areas like baseboards, floors, or walls. For the more serious problems, consider sanding or stripping down a layer of paint.
  6. Special attention is needed for high traffic areas, especially if your pooch comes flying in at times, all wet and all muddy.
  7. If stains prove impossible to remove, bring in a professional.

Long before you show your home, consider whether your pet is on a diet that reduces shedding. Some foods prevent or reduce this common problem. How about treating your beloved animal to a special de-shedding shampoo or wash? You can also dedicate an old towel as a temporary comforter.

Now comes a more difficult question: what to do with your pet before or during a showing? We have a few thoughts on that, though some will make you uncomfortable.

In a best case scenario, perhaps an ideal one, you’ll have a stream of fellow pet owners and lovers coming in. Not likely, but possible. If you do, they probably won’t mind evidence of pets being around, and they may even welcome your pooch or cat stopping by to say hello. But that’s the best case scenario. Not all animal lovers will be as understanding. Cat lovers may not like dogs, and of course the reverse is true. Dog lovers may not welcome another dog being nearby (your dog, for instance). Here’s something less obvious: you love your pets, but then … they’re your pets. Don’t expect everyone else to be on board with that.

Even people who love animals may be highly allergic to certain kinds of pet hair, fur, or dander. Cleaning your home thoroughly may never get rid of animal dander; it’s small and almost unnoticeable. If a visitor has an allergic reaction, they’re not likely to remember how nice your home was.

Perhaps fluffy or rover can head to its favorite hiding or rest area for a while? Or if they’re the outdoor’s type, perhaps they can go play in the yard?

If you’ve been a pet owner for a long time, you may have periodically run into this: someone who is absolutely, irrationally (in your mind) afraid of pets. Don’t underestimate the potential for this. Over a long, long time stories about the supernatural powers or cats have circulated and that creeps some people out. How recently have you heard in the news that some vicious or aggressive dog was on the loose? Animals can sometimes be unpredictable around people they don’t know.

Not trying to be upsetting, but … how about sending your pet on a mini-vacation? Maybe they’d love to spend some time with your best friend or neighbor? If you’re serious about selling, and suspect having pets is holding you back, consider boarding your pet or pets for a while.

You job is almost done at this point. If local laws or statutes don’t specify that you have to disclose you’re a current pet owner with a home, consider the following:

  • Pick up all the dog or kitty toys and put them in a drawer.
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food and water bowls down.
  • Temporarily put the pictures of your cat or dog out of sight.
  • Dog or cat cages or carriers must be tucked away; perhaps that neighbor will help?

If you are fine with having your pet around during a showing, think about caging your dog, or putting your kitty in a carrier. Let people know that’s been done so there are no surprises.

Home selling can be time consuming, and requires planning and patience. The few things you can do to ensure your pets stay safe, or out of the way, may be well worth the effort.