Marketing and selling a home with pets |

Marketing and selling a home with pets

Sean and Aimee McDonald

Home ownership and being a pet parent are oftentimes interwoven. However, when homeowners with pets decide to sell, they’re potentially faced with the challenge of selling their homes to prospective buyers who otherwise might not share their same interest in animals. Successfully marketing, showing and selling a home with pets sometimes further complicates an already difficult process of bringing a home to the market. Arguably, there are often correlations between pet ownership and the resultant price for which a home sells.

While being a pet parent may be of importance to some homeowners, prospective buyers won’t always share those same sentiments. But, negative reactions from would-be home buyers can be reduced through careful planning and considerations, which serve to not only benefit the efforts of aspiring sellers, but also the needs of their animal counterparts.

It goes without saying, first impressions are of the utmost importance when selling a home. When marketing property, industry professionals typically recommend sellers depersonalize their homes so prospective buyers are afforded an opportunity to envision how they’d purpose the use of each space. Family pets are no exception to this rule, as they too are direct reflection of a homeowner. Just like photographs or knickknacks, the presence of a pet is a constant reminder of a home’s current residents.

Needless to say, many homeowners view their pets as an integral part of the family. However, an outsider’s perception of a homeowner’s animals can prove distracting, unintentionally evoking feelings of anxiety in a buyer who doesn’t feel comfortable around animals. Some people dislike animals, but they may still be prospective home buyers. Therefore, in effort to spark interest from all would-be home buyers, sellers must remain mindful of the perceptions their homes instill in others, as they may inadvertently lose an opportunity to capture a buyer’s interest.

But there are two sides to the equation, as sellers also have an obligation to remember the needs and emotions of their pets. The presence of strangers within the home can be just as disconcerting for those animals who are unaccustomed to outsiders. In addition, a blending of uneasy guests and suspicious animals can be problematic. When in fear, animals can be unpredictable; to that end, homeowners are best served in removing their pet companions when marketing and showing their properties.

Understandably, selling a home can be an emotional time for both sellers and their pets. To reduce some of the unnecessary stress placed upon pet companions, it may prove beneficial to have friends or family, ideally someone who the animal knows, act as a caretaker while the home is actively being marketed. As to be expected, prospective home buyers usually assume they’ll have full access to the subject property, but segregating and quarantining an animal to a yard, cage, garage or room isn’t fair to them, nor is it an effective means of capturing a buyer’s interest. Doing so significantly limits a buyer’s ability to immerse themselves in the home’s offerings.

There are important considerations pet parents must take into account when preparing and staging their homes for sale. In effort to attract the widest range of would-be home buyers, sellers are encouraged to focus heavily on all pet areas, cleaning, repairing and replacing those items that may otherwise detract from a home’s overall aesthetics.

Although members of the family, animals may unintentionally cause damage to the interior or exterior surfaces of a home. Stains, odors, dander, and property grounds must be thoroughly attended to in advance of listing. Other considerations, such as flooring, walls, doors, furniture and fencing, must also be free from damage. Where appropriate, the services of a professional tradesperson oftentimes prove advantageous, respective of any repairs exceeding a homeowner’s capabilities.

Yet, cleaning and repairs are not necessarily enough, as sellers are also encouraged to remove all tell-tale signs of pet ownership such as food bowls, cages and chew toys. While some prospective home buyers may have the ability to look beyond a seller’s companions, others may steadfastly refuse.

It’s important to remember, the potential for unintended consequences are an ever-present risk when a homeowner leaves an animal alone in a home unattended. The chance of an accidental escape or unexpected altercations with visiting guests are a real concern carrying consequential liabilities. Removing an unsupervised pet from the home, if only during a showing, is highly recommended. In essence, the purposes of temporarily removing unsupervised pets is two-fold; while ensuring the safety of visiting guests is vital, the safety of pets who may otherwise feel uneasy about the presence of strangers is another measure of safety.

For many, having a family pet is a natural accompaniment to owning a home, but the process of selling a home with pets is often overlooked. Pet parents wishing to sell their homes are encouraged to seek the advice of a real estate professional prior to actively marketing their home. Further, homeowners may also benefit from the counsel of a veterinarian, as selling a home means changing a pet’s established routines.

Selling a home with animals is commonplace; however, successfully executing a marketing strategy accounting for the needs of all family members, both human and animal, is key to maximizing sales opportunities and limiting the amount of time a home stays on the market.

Sean and Aimee McDonald, Realtors with RE/MAX North Lake Tahoe, can be reached at 775-250-8335 or