House prices may have skyrocketed since the property market's return to a (new) normal post-lockdown, but did you know that your chances of a successful sale can be hampered by your pets?
- Find out what house prices are doing right now in our guide
While to many people, the smell of their pets is the smell of home, evoking pleasant memories of when your pet was a puppy/kitten and all the time you've shared together, to prospective buyers, even if they too like animals, the smell of your pets can be quite offputting.
A report this year from OnTheMarket.com highlighted that not every buyer will feel the same as you do about your beloved pet, with an OnTheMarket agent saying:
'Potential buyers could have allergies, or there could be lingering smells you haven’t noticed because you have lived with them for so long. Smell can have a powerful effect on us and you don’t want to lose a sale simply because the odour in your home left a buyer feeling negative.'
This sentiment was echoed by a recent Wall Street Journal article which stated that a house damaged by dogs, including one that suffers the doggy stink, could be worth two to five per cent less than dog-free homes.
So, if you want to make sure your mutt (or mog) isn't turning away potential house buyers, here's what to do when you're preparing for viewings.
1. Remove your pet during viewings
Maybe your potential buyer isn't a dog/cat person, or maybe they are, but the presence of your pet will distract them from the property viewing, or they may be allergic – you just don't know. So, to keep on the safe side, arrange for the dog to be taken for a walk, by a family member or dog walker, for the duration of the viewing. It's a bit trickier with cats, but if there's a room in the house that won't be seen during the viewing (an attic or utility room, for example), they can be kept there during the viewing.
2. Remove evidence of having a pet indoors
Toys, bones, and food bowls can all, unfortunately, be very off-putting to prospective buyers – not least because they tend to be sources of strong smells. Cat litter boxes are another big no where it comes to house viewings; put it outside if you must, but don't leave your buyers to smell cat litter in your living room/bathroom.
3. Clean the back garden
Many sellers often forgot to clean the back garden of dog faeces, but it is an absolute must-do. No buyer wants to run the gauntlet of dodging poop on the lawn, and no seller wants it walked back into the house by unsuspecting viewers.
And, while you're at it, why not mow the lawn (with one of the best lawn mowers)?
4. Repair any damage done by pets
Over time, pets can cause little bits of damage to the home. It might be the cat scratching the sofa, or the dog chewing the doorframe, whatever it is – fix it. Repair work like this shouldn’t be delegated to the new owners, and even if they don't want your sofa, the sight of tattered upholstery will leave a bad impression.
5. Remove pet odours but don’t reach for bleach!
Trust us: if you potential buyer walks through the front door to have their nose assaulted by a strong smell of bleach, they'll instantly assume that you're trying to mask something really gross. Our advice is to clean your house a couple of days in advance of the viewing, but on the day itself, either do some baking or light a nice candle.
Smell is our most immediate sense, and it's very powerful: you'll want them to remember a cosy and inviting smell of 'home', not the smell of a hospital ward.
Check out our best reed diffuser buyer's guide if you'd like a more permanent nice room fragrance, and invest in a carpet cleaner if you have carpeted floors – carpets hold on to the smell of your pets (and their hair) like nothing else.
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