Tips for Selling Your Home When You’re a Pet Owner


Suzie Wilson with Happier Home has expert advice for pet owners who are thinking about selling their home.

Getting your home ready for sale is never easy. And it’s much harder when you throw pets into the mix. Damage from urine stains and unkempt claws along with unpleasant lingering odors can reduce your home’s value. There’ve been reports of pet damage reducing property value by up to $30,000, according to Steve Cook of Total Mortgage. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and you can take steps starting now to reclaim your home’s value. It starts with the cleanliness of the property.


Odors are perhaps the most damaging when it comes to buyer perception. If you have carpets, remove them or, at the very least, have them professionally cleaned. HomeAdvisor reports that the average price for carpet cleaning in the Sacramento area is between $118 and $222. Considering, however, that bad smells can send buyers out the front door before they’ve even started their tour, $200 is a small investment to ensure your home isn’t offensive to the senses.


Your furniture must also be clean and free of odors. Your carpet-cleaning company can likely handle stains on the upholstery, but it is up to you to keep it clean and remove stray dog hair. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for unsightly scratches that can deter a buyer’s eye from your home’s positive qualities. SFGate offers more information on how to deodorize a sofa, which you’ll need to do often if you have pets, even if they aren’t allowed on the furniture.


Another issue when you have pets is the sheer amount of clutter involved in keeping them well fed and entertained. Staging your home for sale means that you will have to remove excess belongings and that includes your pet’s bedding and toys. These items are a dead giveaway that animals are on the property, and that can be a huge red flag for those with allergies or who simply worry about having to vacuum up cat hair when they move in.


Your exterior landscape may also be negatively impacted by animals. Holes, brown spots in the grass, and scratches on the deck and doors make the home look unmaintained. Animal urine, according to Living the Country Life, an online publication dedicated to rural living, can cause significant damage to your lawn, no matter how much you’ve invested in grass seed. Reseed bare and brown spots and consider boarding your pet while your home is on the market because urine can cause turf death in less than 24 hours.


While finding alternate accommodations for your canine companion is ideal, sometimes it isn’t possible. If your dog or cat must remain at home throughout the showing process, you can still take steps to keep things in tip-top shape. Start by defining a specific area of the home where they are allowed to go. This might mean sleeping separately from your pet for a while. The rest of the house should be a pet-free zone. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise during the day, which will discourage him from trying to bounce around the house at night. Bathe your dog once a week, keep his nails trimmed, and brush him daily to prevent odors and dog hair from becoming a problem. When the home is being shown, hide his toys and bedding in a decorative storage ottoman, which is less likely to be opened than the closet.


Remember, clean is the key. The more you can do now to eliminate you pet’s impact on your home’s cleanliness, the better your chances for a quick sale. While most Americans have a definite love affair with their own pets, that love won’t extend to yours. Your dog or cat will affect the value of your home unless you are diligent and willing to do what it takes—even if it means taking a forced vacation from your pup—to make your house a home for its next occupants.

- Suzie Wilson
Author of The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House