You love your dog; you may even think of him as a member of your family. He probably has his own toys, bed, food dishes and supplies. As normal as you think all of this is, your potential home buyer may not feel the same way. Believe it or not, some buyers have an aversion to dogs. Whether a buyer is afraid of them, allergic to them, or just doesn’t like the way dogs shed or smell, when you’re selling your home, you want to make sure it has an advantage over similar properties. You don’t want to lose a potential buyer at the front door because you have a dog.
Avoid the eight common mistakes of dog owners
There are eight mistakes that dog owners frequently make when they decide to sell their home. By avoiding these common errors you can increase interest in your home, avoid value loss, and increase the possibility that you will receive the highest possible selling price in your market.
1. Leaving your dog at home during open houses.
This is the biggest mistake sellers make when marketing their home. As a dog owner, it may be hard for you to imagine that a potential buyer might not be thrilled to be greeted at the door by your adorable pooch, but chances are good that buyers who don’t like dogs will leave your home without looking at it if they see a dog. Even if your dog is contained within a particular room (or left outside), he could still be a turnoff to buyers. At best, your dog is a distraction that may keep buyers from focusing on your home. The worst case scenario? Someone claims to have been bitten by your dog — and then you have a lawsuit on your hands. There are several options you can consider to keep your dog out of the house during open houses or property showings including arranging for friends or a dog sitter to take your pet for a few hours. As part of my dog-friendly real estate services, I work with sellers to make sure their dogs are out of the home during showings. I also arrange for agents and brokers to contact me before they show the home so I am aware when the dog needs to be removed.
2. Not cleaning daily.
When preparing to sell your home, vacuum every day. Dog hair can be a huge turnoff to potential buyers. Pay careful attention to the corners and edges of carpeting. Dog hair can build up in these areas and vacuums can’t always clean them thoroughly. Make sure you clean your furniture as well. Use a lint roller to clean cloth chairs and sofas. If your carpets have pet stains, have them professionally cleaned. If the stains remain even after professional cleaning, consider replacing the carpet. Buyers have stain radar and will automatically assume the worst if they spot them. There have been cases where pet urine has seeped into the floor and damaged the foundation. Pet stains are a red flag to realtors and buyers alike.
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Coming to the next point
3. Leaving dog droppings in the backyard.
You have the “For Sale” sign up, you’ve placed an ad in the paper, and the open house is scheduled yet you’ve forgotten one critical item: dog poop in the backyard. Nothing turns off a potential buyer faster than stepping in dog poop or seeing a backyard dotted with droppings. It’s easy to forget about poop piles in the backyard, especially during the winter. Make sure all of your grass areas are poop-free before any property showings and open houses.
4. Assuming your home has no dog smell.
Have you ever met a person who is wearing a sweater that has been sitting in a stuffy closet for the last six months? The person wearing the sweater does not notice the stuffy smell, but those around him do. The same is true of dog odors. You don’t want a potential buyer associating your home with dog odor. Even the most subtle dog odors can deter potential buyers, who might not even realize that that is why they don’t like your home. If you’re a dog owner, it’s safe to assume that dog odor is there even if you can’t smell anything. Thoroughly clean your home with scented cleaners (but be careful of air fresheners since some people are allergic). After you have cleaned thoroughly, ask a friend or neighbor to give your home a sniff test. Continue to clean and freshen your home daily until it sells. During open houses, I often boil cinnamon in water or simmer apple cider on the stove to cover any lingering odors.
5. Leaving evidence that a dog lives in the home.
Although legally you have to disclose if a dog lives (or has ever lived) in your home, it is best to hide all evidence that there is a dog on the premises. If you have removed the dog from the home during showings, it is also important to remove the dog’s beds, toys, crates and blankets. You want buyers to have a good first impression. Don’t risk turning off a potential buyer by leaving Fido’s water bowl in plain sight (even if it is a lovely designer dish). Buyers will look at pictures online to get a feel for the history of your home. As cute as your dog is, don’t include online property photos of him curled up on the couch in your cozy living room. Seal up doggie doors and remove pictures of your dog from the refrigerator, walls, and table tops.
6. Not Marketing Your Home to Other Pet Lovers.
If you have a dog-friendly home in a dog-friendly neighborhood, your home is uniquely suited to other dog owners. Use this fact to creatively market your home to the dog community.
7. Adding “dog is friendly” to the MLS.
Many real estate agents add the comment “dog is friendly” to the showing instructions for homes on the market. You might as well just say to some realtors, “Don’t show this home.” No one wants to deal with a dog they don’t know. Realtors are afraid they will not be able to control the dog and buyers are afraid that the dog will bite. Even though you say the dog is friendly, people immediately think about the last pit bull mauling article they read and how those owners also said their dog was sweet as pie.
8. Being home during property showings.
If you have to make a choice, it is certainly better to be home managing your dog during a showing rather than allow a potential buyer and their realtor to handle your dog on their own. However, buyers feel uncomfortable when sellers are present while they look at a home. They feel awkward about opening doors and asking questions. Being home with your dog during a showing is a good way to encourage a buyer to rush through your home in eagerness to leave and not give your home a second thought.
As a dog friendly Realtor, I help my clients avoid these common mistakes and also help keep their pets safe and happy during the sale of the property. Selling a home is a disruptive process and can be very traumatic to a dog. Working with a dog friendly Realtor can help ease the stress and make the transition to a new home much more peaceful for all members of the family.
Djuna Woods, Dog Friendly Realtor
Dog Friendly Realtor