When your selling your home the general advice is to clean, repair and depersonalize. While this is great advice for the house in general, how do you make and keep your home "show" ready when you have pets? First and foremost, you as the home owner and pet lover must understand that potential buyers don't share your love for your pets, and having to deal with them at a showing or seeing (or worse smelling) evidence of them can be a huge turn off. So what is a pet lover to do?

When asking the real estate agents who's job it is to sell your home, the most popular answer is to relocate them while your home is on the market. Essentially, if they are removed from the home, whether staying with friends or boarded, the home can be deep cleaned once and be ready at a moments notice for a showing. For many people this option is out of the question. Few people are willing to send their beloved animals away for what could be 6 months or more and even fewer can afford to board them for that long.

If you can't (or won't) send Fido on a vacation, the next best thing to do is minimize their impact on the house and yard. This means cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. The worst offenders are:

Litter boxes, dog beds/crates, cages:

  • Keep them out of sight and impeccable clean.
  • Hire professionals to remove the stains and try to keep new stains from happening by restricting your pets access to the area. Replace the floor covering if stains are too set in to remove. Make sure any flea problems are taken care of at the same time.
  • Because you live with them, you may not notice odors as much as someone else. Ask your agent for an honest opinion. If you know there's a problem, try enzyme cleaners or call a professional company to deodorize the home.

  • DO NOT use air fresheners. They can cause allergic reactions and are dead give always that you're trying to hide something.
Dog "bombs" in the yard:
  • Make sure you clean up each time you let your dog outside.
Clawed, chewed or worn areas:
  • Clean, repair and/ or repaint pet damaged floors, walls, window sills, doors, etc.

Take your animals out of the house during the showing. Don't expect your agent to deal with your pet while trying to show your house and buyers won't know not to let the cat out.

Dogs left in the garage, their crate or even in the back yard can and will bark when strangers are walking through your house. If you can't take them away with you, see if a neighbor would be willing to pet sit at their home during the showing. Cats can also be protective and sometimes aggressive to people other than their owners. Along with the potential for allergic reactions, it is recommend that cats be removed from the house or at least confined to a specific area. If a pet cannot be moved, make arrangements with your agent well before you open your home to buyers.

Market your home as "pet friendly". This may be the best and easiest advice. It's estimated that 85% of homes have pets of some sort. With such a high rate of pet ownership, it can be expected that most of the people viewing your home will have pets of their own. To make sure they see "pet friendly" and not "poorly maintained" consider the following:

  • Vacuum religiously, every day, sometimes twice a day

  • Put away food and water bowls, pet toys and general paraphernalia when not in use

  • Pack up cages, carriers and gates

Overall, just remember that when trying to sell your home, it's your house that should be in the spotlight, not your pets.