Tips for selling a house when you have pets

We all love our pets, but potential home buyers? Maybe not so much. When you get your house ready to go on the market, you cannot forget about the evidence that animals live there, too. Stains on the carpet, scratches on the woodwork, odors in the basement — you will need to address all of these issues. What do you do and where do you begin?


1. Clean your house.

Of course you’ll suck up the dust bunnies from under the couch. You will scrub the basement so it’s clean of cat litter dust. Also, you will clean up any pet messes immediately as you’re readying your house for sale. And you’ll certainly be sure to sweep the fur from the floors before a showing. Sometimes though, the evidence of our pets is much deeper.

If you have stubborn stains on the carpet and if your furniture has an extra layer of fur, you probably want to hire professional cleaners. They have the appropriate equipment and experience for tackling tough stains and odors. You might also want to consider replacing your carpet if the stains and smells are particularly persistent.

Wash the floor and walls of your basement. If the pet smells persist, consider repainting the walls and floor with an odor-blocking paint.

2. Repair your lawn.

If you have a dog, it probably shows on your lawn. You’ll want to make a thorough sweep of the yard and pick up any messes before you put your house on the market. Afterward, you’ll want to walk through your yard several times a day to stay on top of keeping it clean.

Has your dog peppered your lawn with holes? You will need to fill them in and top the bare patches with grass seed or fresh sod. Are yellow or brown spots an issue? Aerate the grass and plant new grass seed. You might want to cut out the dead spots and put down new sod if you don’t have enough time to grow new grass.

When your dog needs to go out after you’ve fixed the yard, leash him up and take him to a discreet corner of the lawn or take a walk.


3. Hide the evidence.

When you’re preparing your house for sale, make sure you fill in and paint or stain any scratches or chew marks on the woodwork. If you have damaged carpet and you’re not replacing it, you should try to patch any worn spots.

Then, when you have showings, remove your pets from the house. Take bags of food with you and put away the bowls. Hide pet toys and other paraphernalia. If you don’t want to take your cat boxes with you, tuck them away in a discreet place in the basement or cover them up with large boxes. Make sure to clean up any loose shavings from guinea pig or hamster cages

4. Relocate your pets.

If you have the option of doing so, it might be best for your pet to live with a family member or friend while you are selling your house — hard as that may be. You will be less stressed because you won’t need to be constantly vigilant about cleaning up after your pet. Your pet will be less stressed because it won’t be put in the car to go for a drive at strange times of day. Everyone will be less stressed because their routines won’t constantly be disrupted.

5. Talk to your veterinarian.

If you have any concerns about your pet and how it might react to the changes in its routine, be sure to discuss them with your vet.

6. Tell potential buyers that you have pets.

Even if you do your best to clean the house and remove all signs of pets, the people who look at your house should still be told that you have pets. Potential buyers may have allergies, or they may be able to smell things that you can’t. Being open and up front about your situation will only help you in the long run.


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About the Author

David Haug is a Madison WI real estate agent. He is passionate about helping clients, customers, and friends succeed in residential real estate. He is also a raging Badger fan. #OnWisconsin Baby! Connect with David on LinkedIn: