Selling a home when you have pets

Does having a pet affect your chances of selling your home? The short answer is yes, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. Although some homeowners who have pets have strict outside only rules, most allow their animals inside of their homes as a family member.

Owning a pet is great for the family and one’s emotional health, however it can be a hindrance when it comes to selling a property. To be competitive in the property market, sellers need to put their best foot forward and ensure that their home is clean and in good repair. It is important for potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home when they view it. Ideally this means removing some of the seller’s personal effects – including their pets and all they bring with them such as toys, bedding and food,” advises Goslett.

He notes that while selling a home with pets can be slightly more challenging, there are ways that sellers can still get the best out of the sale by being prepared. Goslett provides homeowners with a few tips that could assist them in selling their home with pets:

Discuss the matter with the vet

It is vital to bear in mind that while the objective is to sell the home, the animal has its own needs that should be considered. Selling a home and moving to a new environment can be very stressful for pets. “The best thing to do is to consult with the pet’s vet regarding the plan you have in mind and how it could possibly work with your specific animal.  This is particularly important if the pet is older and may not adjust that well to any changes,” says Goslett.

Relocate temporarily

Relocating the pets will make it easier to keep the property clean and show it to potential buyers, but there are several factors to consider. Firstly, the seller will need to have a friend or family member that they are comfortable leaving their pets with and that will be happy to house the pets while the property is on the market.  And there is also the matter of the pet needing to adjust to living with someone temporarily and then adjust again to the new home – this could be added unnecessary stress for the animal.

On the plus side, not having the pets in the home will give the seller the chance to remove all signs of having a pet in the home, as in some cases these signs could bring down the perceived value of the property.

Away for the day

If the seller is not prepared to relocate their pets for the time the property is on the market, they should at least consider having their pets stay somewhere else during showings. It is best for the seller to not be home and leave show days to the real estate agent marketing the home. “If there are pets in the house or garden and the seller is not home, it could cause complications for the agent and could put the pets at risk of accidentally getting out the property during the process,” says Goslett. “Even if the pet is generally friendly towards strangers, there is the chance that with the large amount of people in and out of their territory the dog or cat could react badly to someone and bite or attack them. Leaving a pet in that situation is generally asking for trouble – even if they are not normally aggressive, it is not worth taking the chance.”

Goslett says that in cases where it is simply not possible to remove pets from the home during show days, it is advisable to have someone who can stay at the property and take care of them. An alternative to this is to put them in a contained area of the home and make the real estate agent aware of the fact ahead of time.

Ensure damage is repaired

As lovable as pets can be, pet damage is never endearing when trying to sell your home. Often dogs and cats will damage or destroy elements in the home such as the carpeting, flooring, walls, doors, garden beds and fencing.  “It is best to ensure that all pet damage has been repaired before the home is placed on the market. While this could mean some investment on the seller’s part, the money spent will be recouped in the value added to the property,” says Goslett.

Get rid of odours and stains

A bad odour will put buyers off immediately so it is vital that sellers get rid of any unpleasant smells and stains left behind by pets.  “According to research, a strong odour is one of the top five reasons why a buyer will pass on a home. This is because the sense of smell can evoke a powerful emotional response that will stay in the buyer’s mind.  A bad smell will create a negative perception of the home that the buyer will not forget. Having the carpets and flooring professionally cleaned will remove stains and have the home smelling great,” advises Goslett.

He concludes by saying that while selling a home with a pet may take a little more extra work, the effort will pay off in the end. While it might be impossible to hide all evidence that a pet lives in the home, buyers will appreciate the fact that every effort has been taken to ensure that the property looks and smells as good as it would pet-free.

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