10 tips for selling your home when you have pets

When you’re getting ready to sell your home, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind: buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in your home. If it’s obvious you have pets, it will be harder for them to do this. Buyers won’t see Fido and Tabby as welcome members of the household like you do. They want a home that they can make their own – without feeling the need to remove the sights and smells previous owners’ pets left behind.

It’s vital you take steps to make your pets as invisible as possible to potential buyers. Follow these tips, and you’ll be more likely to make that all-important first impression.

Tips for selling your home when you have pets

1. Clean up

  • Clean up the fur. Fur collects in places you don’t clean on a regular basis. Clean baseboards, under furniture, ceiling fans and appliances, air supply registers, and closets.
  • Clean your rugs and carpet. Some pets can really do a number (pun intended) on rugs and carpets! Professional carpet cleaning could be necessary. In extreme cases, you may need to replace the carpet. (See neutralizing odors below for removing smells from carpet.)
  • Clean the windows and doors. Don’t forget the nose prints and drool on the windows and doors that Shadow left behind while stalking the neighborhood squirrels.

2. Neutralize odors

If you think your pet doesn’t smell, you’re wrong. Even if you can’t smell Tabby, you can bet visitors can.

  • Don’t cover smells, neutralize them. There are several good odor neutralizers available for purchase. Febreeze is a popular brand.
  • Air out the house. Open windows and doors as weather allows.
  • Use enzyme-based cleaners. Enzyme-based cleaners are the most effective way to neutralize the smell of pet urine on carpets (and furniture).

3. Repair damage

  • Repair scratch marks. Cats and dogs alike will leave scratch marks on doors. Repair and repaint (or otherwise refinish) doors. Replace any doors with extensive damage.
  • Repair teeth marks. Cabinets and trim used as chew toys need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Repair holes or other damage. Holes or other damage to walls or flooring should be repaired or replaced.
  • Replace damaged carpet. Carpet is tough to fix after a pet has left its mark; it may be necessary to replace it. Your investment in new carpet will make selling easier (and you could get more money for your house!).

4. Scoop the poop

  • Litter. Keep litter boxes clean and deodorized at all times (remove the litter box from the house before showings).
  • Yard. Buyers need to picture their kids playing joyfully in your yard, not strategically avoiding the minefield of poop.

5. Get a second opinion

  • Ask a friend, neighbor, or your real estate agent to go through your home as if they were a potential buyer. Have them note any issues that might deter them from buying your home. Request that they specifically note any evidence of your pets.

6. Relocate your pet while your home is listed

Relocating your pet with friends, family or neighbors can make it easier for everyone (even your pet) when you’re trying to sell your home. Why?

  • Buyers may have pet phobias.
  • Buyers could have pet allergies.
  • Pets can create a liability issue (especially if they are prone to biting).
  • Pets can get nervous and anxious with strangers in the home.
  • Your pets are not their pets. Buyers may love their pets, but they don’t feel the same about yours.

7. Or…take them out of the house during showings

If you can’t relocate Fluffy and Spike while your home is for sale:

  • Ask a friend or relative to care for them during showings
  • Take Fido for a walk or let them play at the local dog park during showings
  • Take them for a drive during showings
  • Board them at a kennel or doggy daycare
  • Take them to work with you for the day (if you can)
  • Move out and take your pets with you before listing your house for sale

8. Clean and vacuum daily

When your house is for sale, you have to keep it clean and tidy all the time. You don’t always have time to get ready for showings because last-minute showings can and do happen. Be ready at all times, especially if pets live in your house. Make cleaning up and vacuuming part of your daily routine.

9. Hide all pet-related items during showings

Buyers don’t want to see your pets’ items (particularly the litter box!). Find a place to stow all pet-related items during showings (including food/water bowls, beds, toys, leashes, etc.). Remove any large pet structures, such as cat trees or dog houses.

10. Find a routine

Routines will change when you’re selling your house. Pets are sensitive to change and sense stress from their family. Create a new routine and try to keep the stress down for everyone. Your pets will thank you.


If you’re in the Des Moines area and are thinking about selling your home, let us help. Selling a home can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time!

photo credit: Pixabay


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com