There is always plenty to do to prepare your property for sale, but if you have pets, there are a number of specific things that need to be taken care of to ‘de-pet’ your property before it even goes on the market. Just because they are part of your family, does not mean the remnants of them should become part of someone else’s life! It might even be worth getting a friend who does not have pets to walk through the property with you and point out the pet red flags that pet lovers may overlook. Don’t get us wrong – it’s ok to have pets, but not everyone that might be interested in buying your home is an animal lover. Before you even think about booking viewings, work through our list below to make sure everything is ship shape and pet free. Don’t let simple things put people off buying your property.
Take the pets out of the picture
Pets come in all shapes and sizes and even the ones who ‘don’t really smell’, actually do smell, to pet free people. Some pets can be easily relocated temporarily, such as goldfish and maybe budgies. But larger or more unusual pets may require more creative thinking. Ideally you would remove the pets from the property before you start organising viewings, clean up any trace of them and then relocate them elsewhere until the property is sold. However, this may not be an option for everyone or for every pet. This can be tricky when it comes to chickens, but manageable for mice, snakes, turtles and so on. Some pet houses or cages could be moved into the garden temporarily (assuming they are secure and the pet won’t become prey to local wildlife). Depending on the pet – and you’ll have to use your own judgement here – they can either go to a friend or family members house for a little holiday, or you can kennel them for the duration to take the responsibility away from everyone and allow you to focus on the property itself putting its absolute best foot forward.
Remove the evidence
There’s no need to throw a camouflage tarp over a kennel, or cover the aquarium with an elegant throw rug, but the standard objects that come with pets should be taken care of and placed out of sight. This means water and food bowls, DEFINITELY kitty litter trays, bags of pet food or litter strewn across the laundry, dog beds, cat keepers and so on. Look for chewed toys under furniture, random animal blankets lying about the house and it should go without saying – animal faeces in the garden or surrounding the property. Put the cat scratch tower and mini gym in a cupboard or a shed and drop the guinea pig mansion off at a friend’s place for a few weeks – guinea pigs included.
Some pet evidence might be optional however. If you are selling a large family home and your pet’s presence could become a design feature then get some advice from your agent as to whether this should be included in your marketing. A particularly cosy corner where your dog sleeps - that looks equally like a child could curl up there for a nap – could work. Equally, if your antique bird cage with elegant finches in it, or your stunning aquarium filled with tropical fish (that doubles as a room divider), is actually a stylists’ dream then they should definitely stay. It comes down to your own judgement really, but your selling agent, home stager, photographer and so on can help you make the final call.
Get out the repair kit
When you live with children and/or animals, there comes a time when you just stop noticing marks on the walls, texta on the floor, chips in the tiles and so on. If you have a boisterous active pet that really has the run of your home, you’ll need to pay close attention to the damage it may have done, that you possibly stop noticing years ago – remember puppy training? Going room by room, make a list of the damage, stopping regularly to remind yourself why you thought a pet was a good idea, then start making repairs where possible. Basically, you’ll want to check everything its teeth, tongue and let’s face it - toileting habits - have come into contact with. From clawed rugs, sofas and door frames, urine stains on the carpet and walls to chew marks on anything that can fit into an animal sized jaw, the carnage can be shocking. If it’s your furniture that’s damaged and that is not being sold with the house, then repairing – in some cases a well-placed throw rug or side table may do the job. If it’s structural such as a chewed cat flap or deep scratches in timber doors, then you should consider replacements.
There’s a hair in there
During the repair process, you should also have paid attention to what parts of the house will need a deep clean. Of course, urine stains will need to be dealt with – either by professional cleaners or with a quick paint job. But other things such as the hair – oh my goodness the hair – are non-negotiable. You may think a standard vacuum will deal with this, but if a potential buyer has allergies and there is a deeper layer of hair or animal dander your vacuum hasn’t picked up – you will know about it and fast. Animal hair should be removed from furniture, beddings and curtains, floors and any random surface it may have gathered on and once you’ve done that you should go deeper, just to be sure, because that’s where the smells emanate from.
A pet (and their smells) are forever, not just Christmas
So, you’ve packed away all of their stuff, moved them out to somewhere else, dealt with the impacts on every room in the house. Then your pet free friend walks in and simply says ‘what’s that smell?’. When you live with a pet for a long time, you become desensitised to their smells so will have been less inclined to notice them. Although you may have cleaned the property to within an inch of its life, sometimes a deep level clean is required to really deal with the hair, fur, fleas, mites, bird seed, droppings and so on that you missed – because you definitely missed something!
Long dormant odours from decades of pet habits can be difficult to deal with and this is when you bring the big guns in – the steam cleaners, the florists, the oil burners and the smelly candles. A thorough carpet cleaning will make a big difference and if you have any suspicion of fleas you should have the place treated just to be sure. For inspection days, fill the place with fresh fragrant flowers, especially in sunny spots where their aroma will be more strongly released. You can also light oil burners, sprinkle a few fragrant candles around, or even go for a few plug-in automatic air fresheners. Try to avoid things like carpet powders or room deodorisers from the supermarket as these tend to just mask a layer of the smell and create a whole new weirder smell, rather than removing the smell completely.
Given that you will be preparing the property for sale anyway, a lot of these things can be taken care of in the general cleaning and maintenance. However, it’s well worth getting a pet free friend to pop around after your work is done just to make sure it’s a fresh, clean, allergy free environment for your potential buyers.
Thinking of selling
The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.