| Homeowners

Are you one of those people who goes everywhere with their pet?  The driver with a cat curled around his neck?  The hiker whose dog peeks from the backpack she carries it in?  If so, you’re not alone.  Pets travel with us because, well, they’re a part of the family.  And that’s not just a happy saying.  A recent survey of pet owners conducted by Investment Properties in Alamo, California, revealed that, almost unanimously, owners identified their pets as family members.

In a country where 61% of households report owning a pet and where roughly $72 billion dollars a year is spent on  those furry or feathered or scaly friends, it’s not surprising that pets become an important consideration for those seeking a new place to live.  In the 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, over ¾ of respondents said that they consider pets’ needs in choosing future accommodations.  

While this tells us that home sellers might benefit from considering pet needs as they prepare and market their properties for sale, the relationship between pets and real estate is more complex than that.  Homeowners who have pets must also consider buyers who are not pet lovers and what they must do to make their listing more hospitable to the un-pet friendly.  Nearly 70% of realtors report pets having an impact on home sales, and most advise clients to hide evidence of pets when sellers show their homes.

Marketing a Pet-Friendly Home

For those naysayers who think marketing to pet owners is not a profitable venture, consider this: over 30% of homeowners say that they have either moved or would move to accommodate the needs of their animals.  That means a few pet-friendly touches can go a long way toward increasing curb appeal to nearly a third of the market.  

And some changes require no more than a little extra on your home descriptions.  Just as some buyers want to know the nature of the schools in the area, pet owners can be enticed by pet features close by.  Including the proximity of parks or walking trails where pets are welcomed can be a great selling point for your house.  Another way to bump pet appeal is to include local veterinarians you recommend.

There are, of course, physical changes you can make to your property that will draw pet owners.  It will come as no surprise that the overwhelming feature animal lovers look for in a home is a fenced yard, and good fencing is a boon to any home.  You can also offer more pet specific additions, such as pet doors or the increasingly popular retractable pet gates that fold away into door jambs (and can double as kiddie gates).

Marketing a Home to the Pet Unfriendly

While some thoughtful unobtrusive changes can be more inviting to pet owners, you have to remember, as a home seller, that not every buyer will love your pets as much as you.  We grow accustomed to the odors and messes pets make, but potential buyers often viscerally react to the things we no longer see or smell anymore.  Real estate agents thus encourage you to de-pet your house as much as possible before showing.  

Here are a few steps you can take to erase the little (and sometimes big) issues that negatively announce the presence of pets:

  • Deep clean:  A little air freshener or a scented candle is not enough to hide odors from visitors.  Instead use enzyme cleaners or pet-specific deodorizers on curtains, upholstery, and other fabrics.  Your best bet with carpets is to hire professionals to deep clean before you start showing.
  • Hide signs of animals: be sure to pick up toys, food dishes, and water bowls.  Hide litter boxes, cages, crates, and dog beds where they are not likely to be found on a walkthrough.  Chewed wood areas can be repaired with wood fill and paint, while scratched flooring can often be concealed with wood oil.  For heavy damage, you may need to hire a professional to sand and refinish your floors, but that only increases value anyway.  
  • Keep pets away: You are better off arranging for pets not to be in your home when it is being shown.  You can ask a neighbor if they would watch your animal while potential buyers are touring your home, you can pay or ask someone to take them for a walk, or you can kennel them for those open houses.
  • Don’t forget the yard: Remember the exterior of your home is a marketable feature and pets can diminish its appeal.  Clean up pet toys and supplies in your yard, look for digs and fill them in, and above all else pick up droppings before you have visitors.

Let the Selling Begin

Whether you’re marketing your home to sell to pet owners or you’re preparing a pet-filled home for sale, it’s worth a little forethought to make some changes that enhance your home.  A thoughtful addition here and a little cleaning there can go a long way toward finding that someone who will sign on the dotted line.

Guest Post by Josh Whitaker

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