Thursday, June 9, 2011

What is that Terrible Smell? Your Pet Could be Killing Your Home Sale!

I love my cat but I have to admit, when that noxious cat box odor wafts up the stairs from the basement on a rare occasion, it makes me crazy. I notice it immediately and take care of the terrible smell as soon as possible. And I don't have my home listed for sale either.
We Americans LOVE our Pets. Dogs, Cats, Bunnies, Monkeys, name it. We let them sleep in our beds and eat in our kitchens. We buy and cook them special foods. We dress them up and treat them like the members of the family that they are. But have you ever considered the damage pets can do to your most important investment, your home?
As a real estate agent working in the north and east Twin Cities metro area, I have seen some strange pets inside of some homes...everything from pot-bellied pigs to monkeys and bunnies with the run of the house.
Oh, yeah and then there are the people who have dogs and cats too. Many homeowners take great measures to protected their homes and property but some do not.
I have walked into vacant homes and had potential buyers pick out the exact location of where the previous owner had the litter box. I have seen puppy's teeth marks on the sides of oak cupboards and cedar decking and claw marks on wood floors. I have walked through extensively landscaped yards destroyed by holes dug by chained dogs. I have witnessed a family whose cat jumps up and hangs on screens to notify their owner that they want to come inside. One seller had a sign posted in the furnace room on a terrarium full of large, noisy crickets announcing that it was food for the lizards and snakes that were kept in the bedrooms and family rooms of the home. And then there was the family that let the horse wander in the front yard and let the bunny have the entire house to can just imagine the damage left behind on that one.
While amusing to read about, pets can be hard on your home. When if you are trying to sell and haven't addressed these issues you may find yourself discounting your selling price significantly in this buyer's market (almost to forclosure pricing) to reflect the condition.
The smells are the worst. People who keep pets in carpeted rooms even in cages or kennels can have serious problems. Often the odors will not be removed with a simple steam cleaning. In most cases, I recommend that the carpet be replaced. But homeowners with serious damage find that they are not only replacing the carpet, the padding and sometimes even the sub-flooring needs to be removed to eliminate the smell.
But smells aren't the only problem. Stains from accidents or the favorite sleeping spot can be impossible to remove. Our cat knocked down a just-watered plant a few years back. The potting soil mud never fully came out so we know when we sell that carpet will have to be replaced. We bought our dog a few dog beds and put them strategically around the house when we noticed his favorite spots changing the color of the carpet too.

It is possible to have your beloved pet and to protect your home.
  • Keep your pet well groomed to reduce odor, hair and nail damage.
  • Get a pet bed for your dogs and cats. (Several are available at Our dog loves the extra comfort and it keeps dirt and sweat from his coat from going into the carpet fibers. We will move his from room to room during the day so he can stay with us. If this is too much trouble, buy several. They are considerably cheaper than replacing carpet. Our cat uses his bed daily too. It is positioned for his easy access in front of his favorite window so he doesn't jump and leave marks on the woodwork.

  • Have a proper sized kennel or cage for exotic pets and clean often.

  • Clear all accidents immediately. Use special pet cleaners to remove odors and stains.

  • Cover all exposed woodwork especially around windows. Pets love to jump up and look out windows. Use gates to limit your pet's access to soft wood floors like birch or cherry wood. Nail marks require the floor to be completely sanded down before refinishing. It can get very costly.

  • Don't chain your dog to the side of your house. Chains and bolts can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to your home.
  • If your dog shows behavior problems such as chewing, clawing etc, address them immediately to avoid damage to your home.

Copyright 2011