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Don’t let your pet cost you a sale

Dear Heather,

We have put our house on the market for sale. However, we have a dog and a cat, who usually spend the day inside the house, and we are wondering how we are going to manage the home being shown whilst we're not home.

Pet Owner

Dear Pet Owner

Potential buyers and their agents need to feel welcome to look at the property at their leisure without danger or distraction. So while you adore your sweet-tempered four- legged friends, they could turn territorial, barking and growling at potential homebuyers. And it could cost you the opportunity to sell your home!

Think of buyers as guests and work to make them feel comfortable, as they consider your home for purchase. If you have a protective dog or one that is not well-trained, drop him off at doggy day care when you know your home is going to be shown. Or call a pet sitter who can take your pet for a long walk during the appointment.

If you must leave the dog at home, do not expect real estate professionals to handle your dog. They are not dog trainers and should not be expected to risk a dog bite to show your home to buyers. This is where crate-training can be a huge advantage. At least your dog is secured and more inclined to relax while your home is being shown.

What you should not do is leave your dog loose in the backyard. Many buyers are legitimately very afraid of dogs and therefore will not have access to part of the property. Also, your dog could bark so much that the noise drives the buyer out of the house. Do not leave your dog at the neighbours, he will not like it if he thinks someone is in his house while he is not there and it is just as bad if the buyer believes a noisy dog lives next door.

Also, do make a point of cleaning up the yard, it is off-putting dodging doggy landmines, and even more so if you manage to get some on your shoe and take the smell home with you.

House cats can also repel buyers. Most homes are not designed with a convenient place for the litter box, so cat owners do the best they can. Owners get used to the smells of cat boxes and fishy foods, which could be offensive to buyers who do not have cats or have allergies. While most buyers are not afraid of being cat-attacked, cats can still be startling — they appear silently without warning and they jump on furniture and counters.

If you have taught your cat to jump into your arms, or up on your shoulders, you can imagine what could happen to an unsuspecting buyer. Try keeping your cat confined to a specific room and advise your real estate agent.

Prospective buyers can then make their own choice about viewing that space.

For others out there be mindful that exotic pets can be showing-stoppers too! Birds are gorgeous, but a puffed-up screeching cockatoo (perhaps with a colourful vocabulary) can be intimidating and dangerous. Imagine a buyer bringing small children who cannot resist sticking their fingers in the cage and quickly get rewarded with a nasty bite from a very strong beak.

When you are selling a home, keep in mind that the first two weeks on the market are crucial. That is the time you want your home to be pristine and move-in ready. You do not want any noise, smells or stains that could put buyers off. Sell your home faster and for more money by making your home as inviting and accessible as possible, so that buyers have no barriers to overcome. Accessibility to your home is just as important as price, condition and location.

•Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell banker Bermuda Realty's Leading Sales Representatives. She has been working in Real Estate for 25 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332 1793. All questions will be treated in confidence.

Heather Chilvers

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Published August 25, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 25, 2015 at 2:37 am)

Don’t let your pet cost you a sale

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