Selling Your Home When You Have A Pet (or Pets!)

One of the questions we get asked frequently is how to manage selling your home when you have a pet. After all, a pet is really part of your family. And you want to minimize the disruption showings may cause, while at the same time making sure your home is as appealing as possible. So – what’s the best way to handle this situation?

Seller Tips - Selling Your Home - Pets   Home Seller Tips Northern VA Real Estate

First – it depends on the kind of pet. Some (like fish) are obviously not a problem at all. Some (like cats & dogs) can be managed. And some (like multiple snakes & iguanas) are a much bigger challenge. (We’ve had all of these and more – including exotic birds who were allowed to roam freely in the house!)

What you’ll really need to think about is whether you want to sell your home quickly. And whether the amount you sell for is important. Because having pets can definitely affect both. If you’re looking to maximize profits and sell as fast as possible, then we recommend having your pets out of the house – at least during the first 2 weeks your home is on the market. (This is the period where you’ll receive the most showings.)

Now, if you’re like me – that doesn’t sound like much of an idea. My dog Cody would NOT be happy with this solution. And maybe your pet would feel the same way. You might be thinking, “Seriously now. My dog Fifi is the cutest thing ever. And she would never hurt a fly. Why in the world would I need to send her over to someone else’s house to stay? Or worse yet, to a kennel?!”     

And the answer is, you don’t need to do that UNLESS selling your home quickly and selling for the most money matter to you. If you don’t mind having your home on the market for a much longer period, and you don’t mind not maximizing the sales price, then we would say not to worry about sending Fifi on an extended play date. BUT, if things like time & money are valuable to you, then we’d probably advise you that sending Fifi away would be in your best interests. (You may not always like our advice, but as your Realtors we feel strongly that we have a duty to represent you & YOUR best interests. So we’d have to be straight with you.)

Let us share some of the things “real” Buyers have shared with us over the years. Situations like these are VERY common and it’s why we recommend being pet free while you’re on the market.

  • We had a Buyer who refused to even drive by or go in a home where there were pets. They required that before we show them a home, we verify with the Seller that there were not ANY pets in residence. So even though several times we thought we had found the perfect home to show them, they chose not to even go see what it looked like. And we’re talking homes that were gorgeous & in pristine condition.
  • We have had other Buyers who have serious fear of dogs. To the point that even though they know a dog is caged, if they hear it bark, they won’t enter the home. Now, if you have a dog, you may understand how silly this seems. (I have a dog for example who barks his head off until you open the door and then he wags his tail so hard you think it’s going to fall off because he’s so happy to see you.) But it doesn’t matter whether the fear is rational or irrational, a Buyer’s perception is your reality. Even if their agent convinces them to come in, the fear in the back of their mind causes them not to be able to bond with the house the way they would if they were totally relaxed.
  • The worst situation we remember is showing a home where there were cages upon cages of SNAKES. AND ONE GOT OUT! Now I don’t care how many times you tell a Buyer not to worry because this type of snake is not poisonous, you are NEVER going to get that lady back in the house.
  • Medical issues (like allergies) are often a factor. If someone in the family has allergies, it may mean they won’t buy your home if you have pets. Or it may mean they offer less money since they factor in replacement of carpets, cleaning of air ducts and all sorts of other things. Either way, you lose.
  • Liability is always an issue too. While your pet may normally be very loving, quiet and unassuming – we have seen pets respond very differently than normal because their home is on the market and all these strangers keep invading it. The last thing you want to deal with is a law suit because Fifi nipped at a child while they were looking at your home.

National studies show that the among the Top Reasons A Home Doesn’t Sell (aside from price & condition) are smokers, heavy cooking odors and pets.

So, the bottom line is, if you can be creative and find your pet a temporary home-away-from-home (Can Fifi go to a relative’s home during the day? Can you board her for a short time? Maybe she would even really like “doggie day care” like our office manager’s dog does!), you’ll definitely improve your chances of selling quickly and for the most money. And in the long run, this would be best for Fifi too!

If you’re thinking of selling your home, give The Belt Team a call at (703) 242-3975. Our team counts 7 dogs in our families. So we have a unique place in our hearts for Sellers who have special family members like we do! (PS – That’s one of mine pictured above!)