How to Sell a House With Pets

When preparing your home for a showing, one of the most important things aside from cleaning and tidying is removing all personal traces — you want buyers to picture themselves in the home, not your family. And this includes your pets. Contrary to what we pet-lovers may believe, not everyone is excited about animals and particularly not in a space they may be looking to live.

Pets themselves can make a bad impression on buyers, so it’s important that they are either removed from the home or strategically locked up during showings. Nobody wants to be barked out of their future home. But even if your dog is shut in his kennel, there can still be evidence around that may turn off some buyers. Here’s a checklist of steps to ensure that your home can be pet-free for any buyer who’s not an “animal person.”

  • Make a deal with a neighbor or friend to keep your pets during showings, or plan ahead to keep them out of buyers’ way with a kennel (but make sure not to leave them for more than 2 hours).
  • Keep all litter boxes and/or pee pads totally out of sight and impeccably clean. Nobody wants their future home to smell like… well you know.
  • Speaking of smells, it’s very important that you get any permanent pet odors out of your home. Bring in a friend to do an honest sniff check. If you have any smells, use an enzyme cleaner or consider getting a professional to eliminate the odor. I’ve seen buyers walk away from homes they loved because of lingering odors.
  • Pick up all pet toys and put them out of sight.
  • Put away any photographs of your pets (and your family, too).
  • Put away food and water bowls during showings.
  • Vacuum. Vacuum again. Vacuum the furniture, the rugs, the drapes, anywhere there could be pet hair (or dander… you don’t want buyers to be allergic to your home).
  • Clean any stains in carpets, and if they can’t be removed consider replacing the carpet. A dirty carpet, although easy to replace, just becomes one more necessary fix in the buyer’s mind.
  • Clear the yard of pet toys and droppings.

As much as you may love your pets, your first priority when selling is to ensure that the buyer will not be offended or turned off by anything in your home. If you’re so thorough that it’s impossible to detect the presence of pets, you may need to inform potential buyers that the home has had pets due to some local laws. But following these few tips will definitely prevent any buyer from walking away remembering the cat smell instead of your beautiful home.


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  1. I agree with your comments about how gravely odors can affect the value or ability to get a home sold. I love the tip on Air-Renu. Thank you for passing that along and for reading!

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