Pet ownership in America is a steadily growing trend. In fact, according to statistics published by the ASPCA, some 37 to 47 percent of all households in the United States include one or more dogs and some 30 to 37 percent of homes are shared with one or more cats. In actual numbers, this translates to approximately 70 to 80 million dogs and 74 to 96 million cats living in homes throughout the country.
While these numbers clearly show that having a pet is popular, not all home buyers are pet owners and this can create a problem when those who are need to sell their home.
Start by Deciding on the Best Marketing Path to Follow
Sellers who share their homes with pets will typically be faced with two choices when putting their homes on the market. One of these choices is to appeal to other pet owners and use the term "pet-friendly" as part of their marketing strategy.
When advertising their home in this manner, sellers should make sure that their marketing includes any features designed to make pet care easier, such as:
- dedicated pet bathing sinks or facilities
- outdoor pet runs or pens
- invisible pet fencing systems
- fenced yards, especially if the fencing type is chain link or it is a privacy fence capable of safely restraining a pet
- built in pet beds, cat scratching posts, etc.
Appealing to Prospective Buyers Who are Not Pet Owners
Even though pet ownership is very common, many prospective buyers may still be uncomfortable purchasing a home that has been shared with pets. In some cases, this will be because of concerns about possible condition issues, like carpet stains or scratch marks on doors and walls. Some buyers, however, may be seeking a home that will not aggravate any allergic reactions that they or a family member might have when exposed to pet dander or hair. Sellers who want to appeal to buyers who do not own a pet will need a bit more planning, but is well worth the effort.
Clean and Remove any Traces of Prior Pet Damage or Odors
The first step to making a pet-friendly home appeal to all types of buyers is to make sure that it is always clean, fresh, and free of any visual signs of pet ownership.
To do this:
- start by removing or repairing any carpeting, flooring, wall coverings, screens, or other surfaces that have been damaged by pet use
- consider repainting interior walls with an odor-control paint to freshen each room and remove old pet odors
- thoroughly clean each room of the home, from floor to ceiling, taking special care to remove all traces of pet hair
- replace or remove furnishings that show signs of excessive use by pets or those that may harbor pet stains or odors
- clean cat litter boxes daily while the home is on the market, making sure to choose an odor-control cat litter
Because pet owners often become accustomed to odors associated with their animals, sellers should consider asking a non-pet owning friend, relative, or their real estate professional to tour their home with them to sniff out potential problem areas before beginning to show the home.
Prepare for Showings
Sellers who are also pet owners will need a bit of additional preparation to make sure that each buyer showing is as productive as possible. These additional preparations should include:
- running the vacuum to remove pet hair
- picking up pet toys and storing them out of sight
- temporarily putting pet feed and water dishes out of sight and removing cat litter boxes
- doing a scoop in the backyard to remove any doggie deposits that buyers might step in
- placing cats into their carriers and stashing them in a location where they will be kept safe and calm during the visit
- leashing dogs and taking them for a walk or drive while the buyers are viewing the home
It is often a good idea to have the pets out of the house whenever a potential buyer comes by to see it. If you cannot manage taking the animals out on a walk or a car ride, see if a helpful neighbor or friend could keep your pets at their place while the showing takes place.
No matter how well-behaved pets are, sellers can help prevent potential problems by talking with their real estate agent about any particular concerns they have. Agents can offer proactive suggestions based on their experience and help sellers custom design showing instructions to make selling a pet-friendly home as easy as possible.