What do I do with my pets when I’m selling my property?

What can send a full grown man running and screaming to take cover?

No this isn’t the start of a bad joke…it’s a cautionary tale.  A funny one, but still cautionary.

Years ago, we had a lovely lettings negotiator as part of our team at Northfields with a serious dog phobia.  He told the story in one of our weekly training meetings of how he had taken a tenant to view a house where he knew there were canine occupants.  However, the outgoing tenants had reassured him that the dogs were housed in an outdoor kennel at the back of the garden and would be no problem.

While on the viewing, our intrepid negotiator took his potential tenant out into the garden and a diminutive toy poodle trotted out from behind the garage.  Our negotiator took deep breaths and chanted to himself “It’s only a poodle, it’s only a poodle”.  Just as he got his panic attack under control, a very large Doberman Pinscher rounded the corner.

Our negotiator took one look, let out a girlish scream (his words, not mine) and bolted into the house, leaving the tenant to fend with the Doberman.

Luckily, both dogs were friendly, the tenant loved animals and found the entire incident vastly amusing.  She put in an offer on the property that day. By all accounts, chuckling to herself the entire time.

The lesson here: As much as you may love Fido (or Fluffy, depending on whether you are a dog or a cat person), not everyone loves animals or feels comfortable with them.

And that’s just considering people with a fear of animals, but there are also those people who have allergies, those who may be nervous or just don’t want dog hair on their new trousers.

How can you ensure that your pet does not hamper the process of selling your home?

Could you get someone else to look after your pet while your home is on the market?

You might find it difficult to go without man’s best friend for any length of time, but one strategy is to relocate your pets while your home is on the market.  Perhaps a friend, relative or neighbour would consider pet-sitting while you show your home to perspective buyers and tenants.  The other option would be to board them at a kennel or pet “spa”.

This option would mean you wouldn’t have to get your pets out of the way every time a viewing is scheduled and it would also make cleaning up pet hair a one-off instead of a daily chore.

Could your estate agent use Open Days to concentrate viewings in one block?

If you are not able to get someone to look after your pet for a longer period of time or you just can’t face being separated from your furry family members (and I’m not talking about bearded Uncle Bob here), then choose an estate agent who, like Northfields, has had a lot of success with Open Days.  By blocking as many viewings as possible into one day, it will be easier to remove your pet for that whole day rather than finding a way to get them out of the house for a few hours spread over an entire week.  Cleaning your home will also be easier if you are doing it for one particular day rather than having to sweep or hoover up pet hair every day.

Remove all signs of pets before viewings

Make sure you minimise or remove evidence of pets.

The main culprits:

Pet Odours:

Nothing says “Don’t buy this house” like Eau de Cat Urine.  When you live with pets day in and day out, you may not be able to smell any evidence of them in your home.  Bring in a friend to give it a whiff.  Don’t try to cover up odours with air freshener, instead use enzyme cleaners or have a professional cleaning company come in to give your home a deep clean.

Cat Litter Boxes, Dog Potty Pads and Dog “Landmines”

Smelly or full kitty litter boxes are a major turn off no matter how much you love pets and stepping into a pile of dog doo while touring the garden is likely to leave a lasting negative impression.  Keep kitty litter boxes impeccably clean and out of sight and make sure to always pick up after your dog.

Stained carpets and flooring

Make sure to remove all stains from your carpeting.  Have professionals remove stains if necessary and if you can’t remove the stains then remove the floor covering and replace it.

Remove pet paraphernalia

Pet accessories not only clearly advertised that you have animals living in the property but also take up room and in some cases may present a tripping hazard.  If you have a potential buyer or tenant trod on a cat toy or step in a water bowl, that is not only painful and/or messy but will certainly turn them off making an offer.  Store food and water bowls, cat trees, cages, carriers and pet toys out of sight.  You might also want to consider sealing off doggy doors and removing photographs of your pets from refrigerators.

It is pivotal that you take all these steps BEFORE your home is photographed by your estate agent.  You don’t want photos of your cat sprawled on your bed turning off viewers before they even make it to your front door!

Hoover, hoover and hoover some more

Unless you have a pet that does not shed, you will no doubt have a fair amount of animal hair in your home.  While you are holding viewings you should hoover at least once a day to keep animal hair at a minimum.  This will help not just with your home’s appearance, but may help those people with allergies.  It’s rather difficult to view a home when you are continually sneezing.

Make sure to get your pet out of the way during a viewing

If you can’t take your pet off the premises before a viewing then do make sure that they are in a pet carrier or kennel that is safely secured.  Not only will it make nervous viewers feel better, but it could prevent your pet from being in a difficult situation.  Remember that your pet doesn’t understand why strangers are traipsing through their domain.  They could become unusually agitated or defensive, possibly resulting in scratching, biting, hissing or growling – all of which will surely send your buyer or tenant heading for the hills and upset your pet.  And it might just make your estate agent let out a blood-curdling scream!

Has our property been on the market for some time and is not selling? Call us on 020 8740 6622 to ask our advice on what steps you could take to turn things around. Or ask your questions via Twitter @Northfieldslive or via our Facebook page.