Bad smells, dirt and damage from pets is one of the biggest turn-offs when you're trying to sell a home. If you're a pet-loving seller, make sure you attend to these things before a sale.
So you’ve got an adorable furry friend who everyone loves ... er, except for the person potentially buying your house. For various reasons, even existing pet owners will sometimes be turned off a place knowing that it’s housed pets before!
"Real estate agents regularly report that bad smells, dirt and damage from pets is a massive drawback when trying to sell a home," says State Custodians General Manager Joanna Pretty. "Considering that Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, this actually makes it a pretty widespread issue. Not attending to pet issues can really potentially decrease the value of your home and your final selling price, so it's something that vendors need to take very seriously."
The RSPCA reports that currently around 63 per cent of Australian households own pets — a whopping 25 million estimated animals. Some 39 per cent of households own dogs, or 19 dogs for every 100 people. Cats are also common with 29 per cent of Aussies owning one, or 15 cats for every 100 people. The number of pet birds is also approximately 8.1 million, and there are around 1.06 million other pets including rabbits, guinea pigs, horses, reptiles and other small mammals.
It’s also reported that out of the Australians who currently don’t own a pet, 53 per cent say they’d like to own one in the future.
However, whilst many of use love pets, many of us also don't. It's never a good idea to have your pets around during inspections. This is especially true of dogs that either growl menacingly or excitably jump on top of strangers!
If you really want to go the whole hog, think about removing all signs of your pets entirely. Hide the litter boxes and pet gear and even remote all photos of pets.
Tips for pet-owners when it's sale time
With that in mind, here are some key tips for pet-owners to keep in mind when it comes to sale time:
1. First, force someone else to do a smell test
The icky linger of all pervading cat urine is the worst household smell of all time and possibly the worst smell in history. This is closely followed by an outdoor garden that smells like a dog’s own personal toilet. As many pet owners become desensitised to the odours of their pets, it’s wise to bring in a brave friend to do a whiff test. Odours can linger the most in pets’ bedding, which sometimes means your own bedding as well if that’s where they usually end up.
2. Eliminate all pet odours
If your house ranks highly on the stink meter, then use a specific enzyme cleaner from a pet store or call in a professional cleaning company to de-odorise. Simply spraying around an air freshener won’t cut it. Not to mention that it can bring on sneezing fits in some buyers!
3. Remove litter boxes and sleeping beds
At viewings keep these well out of sight (a shed is a good place to stash them) and thoroughly clean them out. There’s nothing worse than a potential buyer opening up a laundry door only to be greeted by a gag-inducing, overflowing cat box. Similarly, no-one will ever be thrilled to see a hair-encrusted sleeping mat in the middle of the kids’ rumpus room.
4. Get rid of floor and carpet stains
Mysterious stains of varying colours do not make for a charming floor. Hire professional cleaners to remove these stains if they’ve been there forever. If the stains are really bad and can’t be cleaned, consider removing the flooring and replacing it, or at least strategically put down well-placed rugs.
5. Clean up all pet hair and dirt
Merely vacuuming or sweeping may not be enough to totally eliminate all the loose pet hair or dirt, so it’s wise to hire professional cleaners to thoroughly wash down all carpets, rugs and floors. Some people have very strong pet allergies when it comes to animal dander. You want buyers to have a great reaction to your home – not an allergic one!
6. Repair pet damage
Wherever possible, try to repair claw marks on door frames, wooden floors and cabinets. Sand back floors, replace doors or repaint. You may think that it’s up to the new owner to do these minor alterations. However, if your home literally looks like a dog’s breakfast, then you might not end up selling it at all, or may have to settle for a lower price than expected.
7. Consider landscaping
Dogs can really do damage to your backyard. Popular home make-over show Selling Houses Australia once featured a property that was unsellable because the owner’s two dogs had completely wrecked the backyard, ripping up plants and grass, damaging paving and posts, and leaving their waste everywhere. Re-grass your backyard area if it is particularly bad, do repairs and clear all waste. The same goes for messy, dirty chicken coops which have become very popular in recent times. A well-maintained garden indicates that you have maintained your home and take pride in it.
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