How to Remove Signs of Pets When Selling Your Home (and Why You Should)

If you own a pet, and can’t imagine living without one, you’re not alone. About 68 percent of American households currently have at least one pet, and our culture is an overwhelmingly pet-friendly one.

However, even though you and everyone you know may love and enjoy your pets, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be helpful in all situations. Pets actively drive the value and appeal of homes lower; even pet owners and pet lovers may be willing to pay less for a house, or may pass up a house entirely if it seems too marked by a previous pet presence. This is why many landlords refuse to allow pets in the first place.

So let’s say you have at least one pet, and you’re trying to sell your home. Your best bet is to eliminate any signs of the animals while selling, so you can increase your chances of success. But how can you do this?

Relocate (If You Can)

Your first job is to prevent any further pet-related damage or odors to compromise the home. If you can, temporarily relocate so the house can be preserved in its natural state. You can stay with friends or family, or if your budget allows, move to a new area immediately. Be aware that the stress of moving may affect your pets, but it’s only a short-term effect.

Repair Damage

Next, you’ll want to repair any damage your pets might have done to the house—and inspect thoroughly for this. If you have dogs, look at the floorboards, walls, and other fixtures to see if anything has been chewed up. If you have cats, look at the corners of the carpeting and pieces of hardwood to see if anything has been scratched. In many cases, these repairs are simple; for example, to fix scratched-up hardwood, a stain-filled marker or a bit of wood filler should be plenty. Others may require a more extensive renovation.

Remove the Odors

If you’re lucky, your pet won’t have damaged much. Unfortunately, there’s an even bigger problem that’s present with pretty much every animal, and it has a significant impact on the price of the home—your pet’s odor.

  • Professional cleaning.

    The easiest and cheapest way to get rid of most pet odors is to have your floors professionally cleaned. Even if you have a large home, with tricky spots, this shouldn’t run you more than a few hundred dollars. The cleaning will remove most surface-level odors, to the point where the average person won’t be able to notice, but if you have particular problem areas, you may need to take the next step.

  • Replacement.

    If certain areas of carpet still smell like pets, they may need to be fully replaced. This is a time-consuming and somewhat expensive job, but it’s worth it if the odor is powerful.

  • Ventilation.

    Whether you simply clean your floors or replace sections of them entirely, you can mitigate any leftover pet odors by opening the windows and keeping your house well-ventilated—especially during showings.

Clean the Yard

If you have a dog or an outdoor cat, peruse the yard for any signs that could be off-putting to a potential homebuyer. Remove any feces from the property, and check for holes that your dog might have created. Patching them up and putting the yard in better shape shouldn’t take much effort.

Remove Toys and Accessories

If you’ve already relocated with your pet, this should be a non-issue. Otherwise, spend some time picking up all your pet’s toys and accessories. Keep them in a corner of a room that isn’t frequently visible. You’ll also want to move any pet accessories, such as food and water bowls, or especially litter boxes. Any sign of a pet could detract from a home’s appeal.

Focus on Showings

Hopefully, these tips will help you push your home to a higher-value, faster sale—even if you’ve been living with dozens of pets for the last few years. If there’s one piece of closing advice we can offer, it’s this: prioritize the appeal of the home during showings. Showings are going to attract your most interested prospects, so the home needs to be in its best condition. You can give it a little extra flair by keeping the pet with a friend, opening the windows, and masking any odors with fresh, neutral scents.