Matisse 1

Hi, Lori – Quick question for you! We are not sure what to do with our cat, Tuna Fish, during showings. We both work all day and don’t know if it’s acceptable to leave him home alone or not. He usually just hides around strangers and will probably just hide during showings. Is that ok? What do you think we should do?

Tuna Fish and Family in Cherry Hill, NJ

Hello there, Tuna Fish and Family!

Clients ask me this all the time, though the animal species in question may vary. But there are several things to consider in this scenario.

First and foremost in my animal-loving opinion, is the safety of your beloved pet! While your kitty might run and hide around strangers when you are on the premises, that might not be the case if strangers enter when he’s all alone. He might panic and run out the door, scratch or bite the intruders to guard his home territory, or just freak out in general. Because you are not there to see for yourself, you really can’t be certain exactly how he will react. So always better to be safe than sorry.

Secondly, you also don’t know how potential buyers might feel about your pet. Even the most passionate animal lovers often second guess the condition of a home with pets of any kind due to possible damage and/or lingering odors left behind. There too, some people might not care for animals in general, are allergic, or fear them. And you really don’t want your pet to be an automatic turn-off to potential buyers.

Last but not least, animals hanging around the house during showings can actually be quite a distraction. Most buyers walk through a home in 15-20 minutes or so, give or take. What you want them to notice and remember is the house itself and all the positive selling points, not your cat streaking through the living room at top speed and scrambling up the curtains!

The truth is, no animals, or even any trace of animals, should be left behind for showings. That means, removing eating dishes, bedding, treats and toys, and hiding the litter box. If you have a dog, don’t leave any ‘presents’ on the lawn and replace grass in spots that might be worn down/destroyed. And make sure your house doesn’t have any funky pet odors or window markings. Carpeting should be steam cleaned…and maybe the upholstery, too.

Ideally, if you can’t sweep your furry family member up at a moments notice to leave for showings yourself, consider farming them out while your house is on the market. Maybe a friend, family member, or even a friendly neighbor could keep them safe during the day while you are away. There is also kitty/doggie daycare to consider, or talk to your local boarding facility and see if they might have some options for you.

Another idea that Realtors are not too crazy about because it does tend to limit showing opportunities a bit but would ensure your pet is secure, is to pre-set certain days and/or hours for showings. If you can assure your animal won’t be at home during specific time frames, that would be best. Perhaps scheduling your work days to start a little later or end a little sooner would suffice. You might also consider working a few longer hours, for example Monday thru Thursday, so you can take Friday off specifically for showings. And of course, make sure the same applies to weekends.

If your pet absolutely must stay at home, make sure they are crated and/or kenneled. That does not mean locking them in a room and making that room unavailable to potential buyers. Potential buyers want to see every room of the house! What it does mean is providing a comfortable crate or kennel with enough ample room to move around and access to food or water, and for cats, a litter box. Tuck the crate/kennel in an out-of-the-way corner so they will not be disturbed or the center of attention. And make sure to have someone come in and check on them during the day for potty breaks and the like.

While it is true that selling a home with pets might take a bit of extra work, in the end, it is very doable and your pet can still feel secure during the process.

Thank you for writing in and wishing you and Tuna Fish all the best!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.

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