As beloved as pets may be to sellers they can be a detriment to the sale of a home.
One of the main reasons has to do with how convenient it is for buyers to see your home. There can be issues caused by the pets that make seeing your home more difficult than viewing other properties. For instance, if sellers have to be called first before their home can be shown this can make it less appealing to buyers and agents.
"You've got issues of access because you might have special pet instructions such as remove pets prior to entering home," says Benjamin Little, Realtor with John Hall & Associates in Scottsdale, Arizona. He says that makes it so agents and buyers have to set special appointments. "And in today's market, anything that impedes a showing is a hindrance to selling the house," cautions Little. He adds, "There are so many properties out there for sale that if you've got special pet instructions and there are 10 properties, that on paper are equal, those Realtors are going to be showing the other ones that they have easier access to and don't have to worry about setting up a time so that the pets are removed."
It's not just access to viewing the property that causes the problem. Sometimes, regardless of how friendly the pet is, potential buyers can be reluctant to enter the home.
"You might have an overly friendly dog, but the buyer still isn't comfortable being in the room with the dog and it could reduce the show time," says Little.
He gives this example. "I was showing a house recently and the sellers left the house. I felt they should have taken the dogs, because an important feature was going out back and seeing the horse set-up on the property but potential buyers weren't allowed outside because of the dogs," says Little. He says the seller's dogs were left in the backyard and the laundry room. There was even a note from the sellers warning buyers and agents that the sellers were unsure of how friendly their dogs were. This makes viewing the home not only uncomfortable but potentially unsafe.
Little says as a result, the showing time was compromised and his clients were not able to see several features of the property such as the horse area, laundry room, and garage.
The longer buyers stay in a home, the more likely they are to be considering it for their own residence.
Even if you don't leave notes about potentially unfriendly pets, sellers should also consider the stigma that goes along with listing a home for sale when it's obvious a pet is living in it.
"If the house smells anything like a pet and buyers see the pet, it is a definite problem because non-pet owners are not sure that they can ever get that smell out of the home," says Little.
However, Little says pets can also cause potential buyers to assume there are problems with the house even when there aren't any.
Little says he worked with a buyer that didn't want any home that had a cat in it even if she couldn't see evidence of a cat living in the home. Her feeling was that cats are climbing around on everything and getting things dirty. Little says that when buyers learn that a pet lives in the house, it can be hard to shake the negative image they create. "The house may be spotless but they already have that image in their mind," says Little.
"Sellers need to understand that they may be comfortable with their pet, but the general public won't be; so they need to do everything they can to make the home as accessible as possible. They need to really have a protocol for getting the pets out of the house before a showing," says Little.
Little says removing pets or putting them in an area of the property that is not considered vital to selling the home is going to create a better experience for potential buyers.
He also recommends asking for advice from people who are non-pet owners. Little says, "You should ask your friends if there is any smell or how they would feel if they saw the cat or dog in the house?" But not all pets are a potential hindrance to showing a home. Some pets can actually help to sell a home. "A fish tank can be considered exotic and help to enhance the color of the home, says Little. And if it's a horse property, by all means, have a horse there!
"The horse can actually be a bonus if you're marketing a horse property. So in that sense, the pet actually enhances the property," says Little.
But for the most part, sellers have to remember that even though their pet may be treated like family, there's still good reason that man's best friend isn't always friendly to the most successful real estate deals.