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Selling your home during a pandemic when you have pets

by Susan Young

Who would have guessed that in the middle of a pandemic the Asheville real estate market would be so hot? Last time I checked, pending home sales were up over 40% , yet the number of available homes for sale is down 42%.

This is what a seller’s market looks like. If your home is priced right and habitable, it will find a buyer quickly unless………..Your pet kills the deal. Even in a seller’s market, evidence of our pets can turn off buyers and affect your sale price. So how do you balance your companion’s needs with the needs of a potential buyer – and keep everyone safe in the process?

Most internet articles will tell you to send your companion on a vacation. That’s as likely as sending the kids to boarding school so the house can stay organized. Right now, no one is going anywhere, so we need to work around this. There are two aspects to selling a home with pets that we need to look at; cleanliness and logistics.

This is the time to be honest with yourself. Even if you groom your pets daily they still bring dirt into your home. Give everything a good scrub down. Vacuum daily to remove pet hair. Wipe down base trim and wall corners that your dogs rub up against. Remove nose prints, (aka “nose art”), from windows before each showing. Repair any damage that your pet has done to your home. Clean litter boxes multiple times a day and use high-quality kitty litter to help mask the smell.

Put away toys and remove any pee pads. It is very important to pay attention to odors. We get used to the odors that our own pets bring to our home – it’s called becoming “nose blind” - but be assured that buyers will smell it. Use Fabreeze liberally, baking soda in litterboxes and carpet cleaner on the rugs. In the summer, run your air-conditioning during showings and put a good HEPA filter on your furnace to help filter the air. Even if a potential buyer is also a pet owner they will be more grossed out by other peoples “dirt” than they are by their own, so eliminate it as much as you can.

Don’t forget the yard. Buyers look for omens to tell them if this is the house for them and stepping in Puppy’s little “gifts” is not a good omen! Lastly, don’t be surprised if your pets start having house training issues. They feel your stress, plus the added stress of strangers coming in when you are not home. When pets get stressed, accidents happen.

So what do you do with your pets while your home is being shown? Cats will pretty much disappear, but if you have one that might be an escape artist then invest in a large dog crate or cat pen for extra security during showings. Locking Kitty in a bedroom is not a good option as we want buyers to see the entire home and not worry about a pet escaping.

Dogs are a bit harder to manage than cats. It IS NOT ok to let your dog loose in the house when it is being shown. This is a very bad idea. Even people who love dogs will be nervous around a dog they don’t know and you know what? Your dog will be afraid of them too. I don’t care how friendly and well socialized Fido is, their home is being invaded by strangers and this puts them in a bad spot. Do I guard the house? Do I let the strangers in? It’s unfair to put Fido in this situation. You have the ability to set your showing instructions to give you some lead time when your home is being shown. Give yourself enough time that you can run home and crate your dog or remove them all together.

During “normal” times this would be a good time to check out a doggy day care or maybe hire a dog walker who can run over and get Fido out of the house for an hour. If they must stay home and a crate is not an option, put them in the laundry room or a bathroom (think small, easy to view from the door) and put up a secure baby gate. This confines your dog and gives them a barrier between them and the intruder, hence a sense of security for everyone.

Also, because of the pandemic we are recommending that you prepare your home for showings by turning on all lights and leaving all doors cracked. That way, people can use their feet to nudge a door open and have minimal contact in your home.

Selling a home is stressful for everyone but with some planning and a game plan, you can balance this and make it work for everyone!

Susan M. Young is a long standing Asheville, NC Real Estate Broker and has been active in dog sports with her Golden Retrievers for over 20 years. She can be reached through her website at


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