Showing a Home With Pets
One thing’s for sure. We love our pets, and they love us back.
If you’ve seen my profile photo in a real estate forum, you know I’m the gorgeous girl to the left. She belongs to my son who has done a brilliant job with training and socializing despite her being his first dog. My family had Dobermans when I was growing up, so for me she is the fourth in a line of beautiful and loving animals.
Since family relationships are different among members, our individual relationships with our special girl are different too. With my son her master and owner she is attentive, loyal, obedient and without care or concern. He’s in control and she gives him the lead. Where, why, or when doesn’t matter, with complete trust and devotion she follows. My husband is the “walker” and she pulls him around the neighborhood. She likes it and he doesn’t mind, though seeing it in action is comical. He appears uncoordinated and out of control, a sharp contrast to what he does professionally. If he told her to stop, she would. He doesn’t, she does, and it’s a hysterical sight for onlookers. Protector is the role she assumed with me though the reason is baffling. I don’t know if it’s about the home-made oatmeal raisin cookies she loves enough to steal, or if she thinks I’m stupid, weak, or worthy. She’ll even sneak a distant peek to make sure I’m still in the shower. Distant, because she hates water and will walk a mile to avoid a puddle. Sneak, because if I don’t see her, it can’t be bath time.
Despite our different relationships, each of us is confident in our ability to exercise control and therefore obedience. She takes her cue and looks to us for direction. If you’re invited into our home, you’re in. You’ll be "watched" (a soul piercing stare,) but you’re in. If held at the door you’ll hear a low rumble. Too long at the door, she’ll sense agitation and make sure you move along.
But what happens when we aren’t around to provide cues and direction? How will our pets react to a stranger entering our home when we aren’t there? We only know what we’ve seen. It’s what we don’t know and haven’t seen that could pose a problem. The unknown is the reason we must be responsible when showing and selling a home with pets.
When selling and showing your home with pets, take care they are secured (e.g. bedroom, backyard, garage, crate, or kennel). If left in a particular room of the house, include this information in your listing and leave a note in your home as well. Better yet, remove them during an appointment to allow Buyers freedom of movement without distraction. A barking dog or meowing cat brings conversation about the same, focus and attention which should be directed toward your home.
If not crated, by all means alert agents you have an animal. Some people are confident their pets will make themselves scarce and many do. But finding a dog or cat ten minutes into a showing appointment can be unnerving and again result in conversation – first words “Poor baby.”
Have an extremely friendly dog you won’t crate or contain feeling they don’t need it? This is a mistake. I’ve shown homes with such animals. They jump on children and run laps around the house so happy for human contact. They are sweet to be sure, but we’re still going talk about the dog (instead of your house) as it happily wags its tail following us room to room begging for attention.
Got a “runner”? A showing appointment that begins with a sprint will not help you sell. By the time we fan out, give chase, and recover your pet - we’re done. No one wants to take a chance of it happening again. The door is locked - your house unseen - we’re moving on.
Remember also the actions of others may (unwittingly) provoke misunderstood or uncharacteristic behavior from even the most docile of companions. A person without cats may not understand they often hide as a defensive tactic, while a quick ankle nip and dart is not an attack. A tail-wagging barking dog may be fearful or territorial, yet people see the “wag” - forget the bark – and try to engage. Whose fault is it when potential Buyers don’t speak “cat” or “dog” and things go wrong?
Our pets are family members who are completely dependent upon us. They will forever remain in a child-like state, looking to us for direction and sustenance. They move with cause but without full ability to reason; they react. As responsible pet owners our thoughts should be those of protection.
If we keep them safe, we will never be sorry.