Proud dog owners believe that their pets are a part of their homes and, as such, are okay to show to prospective buyers along with the bathroom, kitchen, and the hardwood flooring. In truth, realtors routinely recommend that homeowners should do everything they can to conceal from buyers the fact that a dog or cat lives there. It’s an ironic fact that even other dog owners are apt to make negative assumptions about the condition of your home if they know you have a pet. It’s an attitude rooted in the desire to purchase a home that’s as free as possible of deep-seated problems that a buyer may have to resolve later on. It can be a real challenge to hide your pet’s presence, especially if he has left his mark on your home over the years. Often, it’s just a matter of knowing where to look and what to look for, and following a few simple guidelines for as long as your home is on the market.
Get rid of the evidence
As a pet owner, you no doubt have fought a long and difficult battle against the buildup of hair and stained carpeting over the years. This is the kind of unmistakable evidence that a potential buyer can’t help but notice, and which will almost certainly leave them with a negative impression of your property. Vacuum your floors and upholstered furniture carefully. Check along your baseboards for accumulations of hair and pet dander. If you have hardwood floors, make sure you haven’t missed any scratches that need to be sanded out. And consider having the carpeting and upholstery professionally cleaned to get rid of any stains left behind by dog or cat urine. Get rid of any furniture your cat has used as a scratching post.
Improve your air quality
If you’ve had dogs or cats for any length of time, anyone who comes into your home for the first time will notice the unmistakable smell they leave behind. A litter box gives off a distinctive smell that can be very hard to mask, as is cigarette smoke. Realtors identify strong smells as a leading reason why buyers walk away from a house, so spend some time deodorizing before you begin showing your home. Open the windows and doors to freshen things up with some natural air flow, and consider having your carpeting (a major source of bad odors) professionally cleaned. If there are still lingering odors, there are home remedies you can try. For example, vinegar and water make an effective spray cleaner. Try laying out a bowl of vinegar overnight or some coffee beans, which are excellent at absorbing odors.
Be careful to remove the pictures of your dog. Pictures will undermine any work you’ve done to conceal your pet’s presence, as will any pictures you’ve left up on your Facebook page, so don’t forget the “virtual” evidence as well.
A little time away
Once you’ve removed evidence of your pet inside and outside of your home, you’ll need to remove him altogether while showing your house to buyers. If you don’t have a friend or family member who can watch him for a while, consider a dog boarder or hire a dog walker or sitter, who can keep your pet safe and entertained.
Staging a home for prospective buyers is all about paying careful attention to detail. And when you’re encouraging someone to purchase your house, pets are a major detail. Make sure you’ve removed all the evidence—especially your pet—when showing your home.
When all else fails
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