Feb 24, 2011

Where Should Your Cat or Dog Go During House Showings?

Ask any experienced real estate agent about whether a cat or dog should stay in the house while prospective buyers are touring, and the answer is usually, "No way." As with everything about preparing a home for sale, you're trying to appeal to the "average" person, and that person may not be a cat or dog lover, or may even be allergic.

Not to mention the pets' own interests -- seeing hordes of people tromping through the house may prompt them to make a quick escape through an open door.

But The New York Times added some new food (or kibble) for thought on this topic with its article, "Pets Help Sell Manhattan Apartments," by Constance Rosenblum. It's full of stories of cats and dogs that charmed the prospective buyers, added a sense of warmth to the apartment, in some case literally showed the visitors around, and were missed when the new owners moved in and the four-pawed friend was no longer there to welcome them.

You'll want to read the story for yourself. But here are my conclusions about why it worked in these cases, or how a pet  can be useful in the homeselling process.

dog-relaxes.jpg1. It all hinges on whether the cat or dog is seriously cute. If so, you might give it a try at individual showings at least, if not necessarily at the open house. Not all pets have the same degree of magnetism. If you've already noticed that your cat or dog becomes the center of attention at every party you give, makes friends with people who swore they didn't care about animals, or attract exclamations like, "Awww" from every passerby, maybe this is a pet that can be drafted into home-selling service. (The opposite goes for barking dogs and cats that give people the stink-eye.)

2. If you're going to keep the pet around, make sure there are no animal smells. Put the kitty litter box as far from the madding crowds as you can (of course, show the cat where it is), and invest in the most expensive, odor-defying litter. For dogs, perhaps do as Wraggles' owners did, in the NYT story, and have the dog bathed and groomed before showings.

3. If having the actual animal at showings isn't realistic, consider including it in your publicized photos of the property. Hey, all the home furnishing catalogs do it, why not you? A cat or dog creates a focal point, and helps make your home look like a cozy place.

What commission you negotiate with a cat or dog who helps you sell is up to you. But a treat is no doubt in order!