I realize that this column will be sensitive to some, yet it must be said. This is actually a topic that I have never covered in this column which is long overdue. The subject is our loving pets, and their potential impact on the sale of your home.
I have been a dog lover since I was a kid and have had a dog throughout my entire life (give or take a couple while I was in college). I also had a cat at one point. His name was Miles. He was a 12-pound Tabby who thought he was a dog. I share this with you so you know that I love pets (all kinds) and recognize the joy that they bring to our lives.
Conversely, as a listing agent I have seen pets single-handedly jeopardize the sale of a home. “How could that be possible?” the pet lovers ask. “It is entirely possible,” the non pet lovers answer.
Pets, although they hold a special place in our heart, must be taken into consideration when preparing your home for sale. Just because everyone who has every met your pet loves him or her does not mean that your buyer will feel the same way. You may have the best dog or cat in the world — well trained, respectful of boundaries and cute. What you don’t have is any guarantee that the perfect buyer for your home (who might be willing to pay top dollar for it) will love your pet. They might loath pets. And although I don’t identify with that perspective, they are entitled to it. After all, my job is not to judge a buyer, rather to attract them to our client’s homes and get them to write an offer.
Over the years I have heard homeowners say things like, “Well, if they hate dogs so much, I don’t know if I want them to buy my home,” or, “Skippy is part of the family too. He is just part of the package.” Here are my thoughts.
Let’s start with the second one: “Skippy is part of the family too.” If Skippy is part of the family, doesn’t he deserve a vacation now and again? Most pets are creatures of habit, so how happy will your pet be when strangers are traipsing through your house at random times to look at it? In most cases, having a pet present during showings causes stress for the pet and the potential buyer. I have been present at showings when a kenneled dog barked so incessantly that the buyer and I could not even carry on a conversation. That day, the buyer did not remember that house as the cute Cape Cod by the Village Shops. They remembered it as the “yappy dog house.” I don’t think that was the impression the seller wanted to make, do you?
Now to the former response: “If they don’t like my pet then I don’t know if I want them to buy my home.” Really? What about the buyer who buys your home with the intention of redecorating the whole house. I am talking removing every bit of decor that you have put in place during your ownership, completely removing any evidence that it was ever your home. Are you not going to sell to them either? Of course you would. We expect the new homeowners to personalize the home after they purchase it. That is their right. And, of course, they want to make it their own. So why fault them for having their own opinion about pets? It’s not like they are looking at a picture of your kids and saying, “Wow! That kid is ugly! I cannot buy this house.” No.
We haven’t even touched on pet smells and pet paraphernalia yet. I will be brief. Don’t be the house that smells like a dog or like a litter box. It’s just gross and will not achieve top market value for your home. And will probably deter any offers at all. As far as pet toys, scratching posts and towers, crates, etc are concerned, please remove them. It is no different than our clients who have little kids. We (our stager, Kendra and I) ask them to remove the toys and such from the home so a buyer can focus on the benefits of the home, not the kid toys. The less personal or unique a home feels while it is being shown, the more likely a buyer will be able to identify with and feel comfortable in that home. It doesn’t mean that we don’t like kids. We just really like SOLD signs in our clients’ yards.
If you have a puppy or a dog and would like to give them a vacation while your home is on the market, I strongly recommend Puppy’s Play Pen on 95th Street between Roe and Nall Ave. We have taken our pets there for years and have always had an incredible experience. If you have a recommendation for a cat vacation destination, I would love to hear from you.