5 Tips to “De-Pet” your Home Before you Sell

De pet your home before you sellSelling your home is a real art form these days. The marketing! The staging! Yet there’s one thing that you, Joe or Sally Homeowner, often forget: Would-be buyers don’t care how much you love your pets. And they’re not interested in seeing — or smelling — evidence of Fido or Fifi.  People are really, really sensitive about pets.  One of the biggest reasons people will or won’t buy a house is odor, believe it or not.  So how do you scrub all evidence of your pets from your home before you sell it, especially if you’ve lived there with them for a decade or more?  Step away from that can of Lysol. We’ve got some expert tips that really work.

Make your Pet Scarce

If at all possible, keep your animals out of the house whenever you’re showing your home.   There’s nothing more off-putting for a homebuyer than opening the door to an aggressive or hyperactive dog. If the pet must be at home, put it away, and make sure the real-estate agent knows exactly where it is. Remember: Few buyers think your dog or cat is as charming as you do.

Go on a Hair Hunt

The first thing that you want to get rid of is evidence of hair.  You’ve got to get a really good machine to pick up stuff. We recommends Dysons Animal or Bissell’s Pet Hair Eraser (Bissell also makes the Spot Bot Pet, a portable deep-cleaning machine that can remove pet stains from carpet and upholstery while the owner walks away.)  If you’re going to “stage” your home using your own furniture, vacuuming alone doesn’t always cut it. Check out Sticky Sheets — big, adhesive sheets, like lint rollers, that pick up everything on sofas and chairs.   And don’t forget to vacuum and launder your drapes. They can hold plenty of hair and smells.

Find Trouble Spots on the Floor

Your floors are going to pose the biggest challenge to de-petting your home.  How do you know that you’re locating all the trouble spots you need to address? Here’s an advanced move: Buy a battery-powered ultraviolet (aka “black”) light like the Stink-Free Stink Finder (about $18) or Bramtons Simple Solution Spot Spotter(about $12).  Used in complete darkness, these lights will show everywhere that your pet has peed, sprayed or vomited. Mark the spots with masking tape so you can focus on them.  Of course, follow all directions, and test cleaners on a small, less-seen area first to test for colorfastness.

Clean the Air

A great way to improve the atmosphere of your rooms is to clean your home’s furnace or air-conditioning filters. Then take essential oils — only the real stuff, from a health-food store — and dab several drops on the filter before replacing it.  Think you need to go deeper? Get your ducts cleaned before showing the home. A home’s air ducts can collect everything from animal dander and hair to skin cells, mold and dust — things that will agitate a particularly sensitive would-be homebuyer. Also, if you have cats and have been using clay kitty litter, definitely get your ducts cleaned.  The micro-dust generated from clay litter goes everywhere.

Call in the Professionals

If urine damage is really bad and has occurred repeatedly over a long period, it’s really hard to remove the evidence.  Seriously consider calling in a professional deodorizing technician, not just a carpet cleaner. Though sometimes the carpet can be saved, in most cases replacement of carpeting and padding, and sealing of the sub-floor beneath is the most realistic solution to widespread urine damage.  Some people resist the cost, but you shouldn’t.  You’ve got a $400,000 house – and you’re going to let a $2,000 carpet ruin the sale? Put down new carpet.