Smelly Cat? Pets Need Not Complicate Home Sale if Sellers Take Proper Approach, RE/MAX Advises

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Pets can present challenges to home sellers, and RE/MAX brokers offer some straightforward advice on how to handle those issues when preparing and showing your home.

Pets are a much loved staple of American home life, and a recent national estimate reports that 68 percent of U.S. households have at least one pet. But when it’s time to sell the family home, RE/MAX brokers point out, pets can complicate the process unless the proper steps are taken.

Pets impact home sales in several ways, explained Mark Santoyo of RE/MAX Loyalty in Chicago. “My main concern with pets is their affect on a home’s cleanliness and its smell. If a home is nicely cleaned and free of pet odors, the presence of pets is rarely an issue. However, if there is pet hair everywhere, strong pet odor in the house or pet waste around the yard, it can increase the time needed to sell the property and reduce its value.”

Animal allergies are a common concern, and buyers who have them can be easily turned off if a house has pets, reported David Scott of RE/MAX Valley, Realtors, in Roscoe, Ill.

“Buyers occasionally are sensitive enough that they ask not to see homes where certain pets, typically cats or dogs, are residents. Other buyers will ask to leave a home immediately if they smell strong or foul pet odors,” Scott said. Of course, many buyers have pets of their own and often show greater tolerance.

Pet problems can even outlast the pets, explained Damian Ciszek of RE/MAX 10 in Chicago.

“If pets urinated in the house, the odor can linger indefinitely, and pets can do lasting damage to the woodwork by scratching or chewing,” he noted.

So what should pet owners do to be sure Rover and Fluffy don’t negatively impact the sale of their home? The RE/MAX brokers offer five straightforward bits of advice:

  •      Clean the place, especially any rugs or carpeting, thoroughly before putting the home on the market, which may mean calling in professionals. And don’t forget the air vents.
  •      Once the house is clean, keep it that way.
  •      Pet owners often don’t notice the odors caused by their animals, so it’s best to ask your broker or friend if odors are noticeable.
  •      If animals have urinated in the house, replace the affected carpeting or flooring, eliminating the odor at its source.
  •      Ideally, remove pets from the home while the house is on the market. If that’s impractical, either take the pets out during showings or keep them confined in a small room or crate.

“Safety is the major reason to remove pets from the home during showings,” said Scott, who noted he once was attacked by a dog at a property he was showing. “Pet owners usually think their animals are harmless, but accidents do happen, and both homeowners and brokers could have legal liability.”

Santoyo added that pets also can be a distraction. Some people are phobic about animals. Others adore them. Either group can have a hard time ignoring a pet if it is wandering around the home.

“Do you want a buyer playing with your cat for 15 minutes or seeing the best features of your home?” he asked.

Dealing with damage or odors caused by pets “may not be cheap,” Ciszek acknowledges, “but it will make money for you in the long run. I tell sellers the difference in value is like that between a house that hasn’t been updated in 30 years or more and one thoroughly updated quite recently.”

Scott estimates that for every dollar in actual repair expense to remedy pet-related damage, a typical buyer will reduce their offer by $2 to $3.

“I tell sellers that if they want to achieve maximum value in their home sale, it’s best to correct the flaws themselves, rather than offering credits to the buyer,” he said.

RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry. In the United States, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.6 years of real estate experience and 16.0 transaction sides in 2014. RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of more than 2,250 sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at http://www.illinoisproperty.com, provides comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 100,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: RE/MAX® is a registered trademark. Please spell in all caps. Thank you. This release is posted at blog.illinoisproperty.com.

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Stephen Johnson
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
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