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Suggestions for Home Sellers with Pets

Over two out of three households or 85 million families in the U.S. includes one or more pets, according to That’s up from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988. Since pet-owners outnumber pet less folks, you may think homebuyers who come to your home will probably be OK with your animals. But before you leave your dog, cat, bird, snake or piranha home alone, consider what could happen while your home is being shown to a homebuyer. 

Most pets react to people, especially strangers, coming into their homes - some with aggression or fear while others are friendly and curious. While you may think you know how your pets will behave, do you really want to take the chance?

If you have a pet wandering around, it can be a distraction and a danger for buyers, whether they love animals or not. A cat jumping up on a homebuyer’s shoulder unexpectedly can cause a small panic with the buyer more than likely ending up scratched. A barking, growling dog can be terrifying. A cockatoo flapping its wings and squawking at ear-splitting levels can be intimidating. 

Most dogs won’t bite, but if the owner’s gone for the showing, pets can become territorial. Uncontrollable barking is unpleasant, and a dog that won’t be quiet may be disobedient in other ways. You don’t want to be that pet parent lamenting, “I’m so sorry! He’s never done that before!” 

Exotic pets like snakes, iguanas and tarantulas can be off-putting for some homebuyers. The last thing you want is for your homebuyer to get the “willies.” You may be comfortable with your pet’s charm, but it isn’t fair to the homebuyer to expect them to listen to constant barking or to otherwise put their reactions aside to consider buying your home. And they certainly shouldn’t be expected to “keep the cat from getting out,” or shoulder other such responsibilities. 

As a courtesy, make sure your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional puts a line in the remarks section of your MLS listing about your pets. That way, people with allergies can take precautions and won’t be turned off by the need to sneeze as they view your home.  

Consider the pets and their feelings, too. If you can, arrange to take your pets with you when you leave the house for showings, or put them with friends or family, or take them to a reputable pet care. You can also isolate them to one room with a sign on the door, so they know what they’ll be walking into. Again, you want buyers to concentrate on buying your home, not on petting the cat. 

While it’s almost impossible to eliminate all sights and smells associated with pets, you should be able to pick up pet waste in the yard, remove stains on the carpet, and keep stinky pet beds clean and smelling nice. Do change litter boxes, bird cages, and aquarium water as frequently as possible so everything is sparkling clean and odor-free.