So, how do you prepare and show your home for sale when you have pets?
First of all, if you have an older pet you should talk to your vet before you plan a move. Selling a house and moving can be very stressful for older pets.
You might consider temporarily relocating your pets -- but you should definitely plan to remove the pets during showings. Not everyone is comfortable around animals. Buyers will be distracted by the presence of the animals and not able to focus on the house itself. If the buyer is only thinking of how fast they can get away form the pets, how likely are they going to want to return for a second showing? As a rule, Realtors do not make good pet sitters either. I cannot tell you how many times we are warned to "don't let the cat out," and inevidibly one of the buyers opens the door before we can get to it.
Eventually your pet is going to have a bad day and may lash out at a stranger -- and it's not just dogs that we worry about. Showed a house with a hissing cat once. Very unnerving to both me and the buyers when it was sitting on one of the dining room chairs and the floor plan did not allow us to avoid him. We thought he was going to pounce on us any minute.
I have always had large dogs myself -- but it's one thing when they are my dogs, and another when the dogs belong to some one else. I was once told that the dog would likely be sleeping on the couch, but to go ahead and show a house. Turned out it was a great dane. The buyer wouldn't even go in.
Best thing you can do is allow showings when you have the ability to have the pets taken away, and the second best thing is to have the ability to contain the pets securely in an area that will still allow the home to be seen in its entirety. Leaving the pets at the house is usually not ideal because they may bark or make themselves known the whole time the house is being shown and strangers are present. If containing the pets is the route you will have to go, you will want to test how your pets behave when you are not there by having someone they do not know walk through the house.
Before you place your home on the market, take a walk around the house and if there are windows or door screens that the animals have torn get them rescreeened. Doors or walls that have been scratched by anxious pets? Repaint them. You can't watch your pets every minute, and eventually your home will show some sign of their presence. Any damage should be repaired before any buyer sees it; including carpets, hardwood flooring, furniture, lawn and fencing. Carpets may have to be replaced, and sometimes hardwood flooring has to be sanded, sealed and refinished. Buyer's will discount your asking price if the home is damaged or there is a strong pet odor!
Don't forget to pick up after your pets inside and out! People with children pick up toys - people with pets do the same. And unless you are blessed by several inches of new fallen snow just before the showing, you will be glad you kept the messes picked up outdoors!