Selling Your Home With Pets: Tips for Dog Owners

Happy pug in a rustic dog house.

As a mortgage lender with real estate experience, who also has a passion for dog behavior and training, who better than the MORTGAGE DOGS to give you some quick tips on buying and selling real estate when you have dogs?

The goal of this post is to arm you with two kinds of knowledge:

  • What to do to maximize your sale proceeds from your departing residence.
  • How to make your move as low-stress as possible on your furry friend.

 

Move out before listing, if possible

Any good realtor will tell you; a staged, vacant home is going to bring the fastest and highest offers. If it’s in the realm of possibility for you to move BEFORE listing your home, I highly recommend doing so. If you’re on a budget and want to save money on staging, you can consider leaving a few of your furnishings behind until you’re under contract. I did this with my last move, and it worked out great!

If moving before listing is not a possibility….

Plan ahead for your dogs

Amy & Evan Jones of Jones Next Door with Keller Williams say it’s not uncommon for dogs to be left in the home for showings. If you go this route, be sure your listing agent is aware so she can pass it on to any showing realtors and be sure your dog is contained in a safe, cool area of the home. Ideally, they’re in a crate (but only is already crate trained). Do not go this route is your dog is fearful or reactive to strangers entering the home. It’ll cause undue stress for your dog and turn your potential buyers off.

It is best for the dogs to be out of the home during showings. This is better for the overall presentation of your home AND better for your dog’s emotional state. See if you can find a friend to host a play date with or plan to do doggie daycare until you have accepted an offer.  If your dog has never been to doggie daycare, be sure to take that for a test drive well before listing your home.

Deep clean and deodorize

As dog owners we get used to certain odors in our homes. Our dogs don’t smell, of course, but other people’s do! Buyers who come to view your property may or may not be dog owners, so best to proactively address potential doggie odors.

First step, DEEP CLEAN. Hire professionals, and do not cap them at a certain timeframe. Ask for a very deep clean and let them get it done. The extra couple hundred dollars you spend will likely get you thousands more in offers. A clean home will rise above the competition.

Next, assume there may be lingering odors. These can be easily addressed by hiding some odor absorbing beads; Under the furniture is a good spot, as most people won’t be looking there. Make sure not to use any over-powering scents, as that may have the opposite effect we’re going for. Mild scents, and a clean home.

De-personalize

Your realtor will instruct you to “de-personalize” the home. This means to remove things like family photos and mementos, including any pet-related items such as dog bowls, bedding, toys, etc. It’s best if a potential buyer gets through the showing without even knowing you have pets.

This doesn’t mean to de-style your home. Don’t worry about having a “neutral pallet”. No matter what someone’s style preferences are, most people don’t have the amount of imagination we’d like to give them credit for; they won’t be attracted to complete neutrality. De-personalize, but don’t de-style.

Don’t forget the yard

Curb appeal is real. What your potential buyers see as they roll up the curb is going to set the stage for how they feel about your home. At minimum, a basic landscaping cleanup should be done; remove debris and any personal yard décor, trim bushes / trees, fresh mulch or rock where appropriate.

While the backyard is not as important, be sure to do a thorough “poop patrol” before every showing and remove your scooper and bucket from view, as well as any other dog-related items.

 

Additional Dog Tips…

Moving is stressful for us humans, and we know what’s going on! Imagine how it would feel if you didn’t. How much this move will impact your dog depends on their individual personality and baseline stress levels, but all dogs will be impacted. If your dog shows signs of stress or starts misbehaving, take time to reassure them, and remember to give them some extra patience throughout this process.

If you’re able to employ our first tip of moving before listing your home, this will go a long way in eliminating that impact, but most people aren’t going to be in a position to go this route, so here are some things you can do to help reassure your dog around the moving process:

Preparation / Home Showings

If you plan to leave them at home during showings, are they crate-trained? Have you tested how they will respond to strangers entering the home without you there? This option can be extremely stressful to your dog, and even though it is commonly employed, I recommend finding a more appropriate solution. If you plan on doggie daycare, but this is something new to your dog, be sure to test that out a couple of times in advance, as well.

During the Moving

As long as they can be safely out of the way, allow them to be part of the moving / packing process. Experiencing the move with you will have a lesser negative impact than taking them from one home straight to the other without context. If, however, you know your dog will be under foot and/or overly stressed, it’s best to have them away during the move. Arrange a playdate with a dog friend, or doggie daycare for that day.

At the new home, be sure to scour the yard for any items or plants that pose a danger to your dog before they have a chance to investigate on their own.

Post-move

Expect your dog may experience some emotional distress or depression for a couple of weeks after the move. You may see a change in their eating and elimination habits, and maybe some destructive behavior while they readjust. Just have patience with them, set the environment up for success, and do what you can to reassure them.

Make sure identification is up to date and secured to your dog at all times in case they escape and head for “home”. It may be a good idea to take a few days off from neighborhood walks until your dog emotionally adjusts to the new home. We don’t want to stack stressor upon stressor, typically called “trigger stacking” in dog trainer lingo.

Bottom line: Your dogs are going to feel this stress even more than you do. Give them some grace, and be there to support them.

Tammy Metzger

Residential Mortgage Loan Originator. Dog Mom. Knowledge Seeker. Voracious Reader. Solo. Outdoors enthusiast. Genre Film Lover.

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