Ask the Expert

Pets and homebuyers

Q: Nearly everyone loves pets – except the homebuyer who is buying your house. With that in mind, how do we make our home (with its two dogs and one cat) more attractive and appealing to buyers?

This is often a challenging matter to discuss with home sellers. As so many pet lovers know – myself included – these furry felines and pups are like members of our family and we cannot imagine why anyone else wouldn’t love them as much as we do. The truth is not all homebuyers feel the same way. The best advice I can give is to remove your pets from the home for all showings. I know this can often be difficult, but it’s better to reschedule a showing than to have your pets in the home.

Not only should you remove your pets from the home, you should also remove all signs of them, including pet beds, food dishes, litter boxes, toys, and any other pet clutter. Also, be sure these items are absent from all marketing photos. I always recommend that you do a very deep cleaning to remove all pet odors. If pet smells are still prevalent after a cleaning you may need to consider replacing carpet or painting. Do not try to mask these odors with plug-in air fresheners. Although these are advertised as a cure, my personal experience has found they do not work. Nothing smells better than a clean home.

Repair any damage that your pet may have done such as scratches on door trim, torn carpet, etc. Do not forget the exterior! Make sure the yard is tidy and clear of all pet waste.

In general, a home purchase is the largest investment anyone will ever make. Buyers need the freedom to look at what your home could be like for them, they want to envision living there. Prospective homebuyers do not need the distraction of a pet, nor do they want to smell lingering pet odors.

Mary Wanzer is the Broker and an owner of Coastal Real Estate Group. She has been a professional realtor in the state of Alaska for 20 years. Visit Coastal Real Estate Group online at