Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Love Your Pet! Protect Your Home!

Tips for protecting home from pet damage

Just yesterday I was out showing homes in northern Anoka County. We were at a lovely, well kept home in East Bethel. As we pulled into the driveway, we could hear barking from the garage. The two kenneled dogs did not bother the showing at all. But as I inspected the home with my buyers, we noticed chew marks on the oak door frame near the floor.. In this particular case, my buyers discounted the small flaw in an otherwise meticulously well kept home, Pets do make a difference when selling a home.

Americans LOVE their pets! Dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, hamsters...you name it. Some people let them sleep in the bedroom or eat in their kitchens. Others will cook fresh food for the dog, while nuking a frozen meal for the family. People dress their pets up and treat them like a member of the family (well, they are, aren't they?) But it is important to remember the damage a pet can do to your home.

As a REALTOR® working in the north and east Minneapolis and St Paul metro area, I have seen some strange pets inside of some homes...everything from lizards to a tank of fresh trout and a rabbit with the run of the house. And of course, there are people who have dogs and cats too. Many homeowners take great measures to protect their homes and property but some do not.

A few years ago I walked into a vacant home that was clean to the eye yet the potential buyers who were able to pick out the exact closet where litter box used to be located. Not only have I have seen puppy's teeth marks on the sides of oak door frames, I have seen similar damage to 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 the family cat of a seller jumping up and attaching itself to the screen apparently to notifiy its owner it was time to come back inside. One home had a huge terrarium full of noisy crickets and a note letting all potential buyers that this was the food for the lizards in the other room. There was a family of sellers with the horse in the front yard leaving droppings by the entrance. But the loose rabbit hopping through the home leaving droppings (that were NOT jelly beans) had to be the worst!

While these "petscapades" are amusing to read about, it's not so funny when you go to sell your home. When if you are trying to sell and haven't addressed pet damage and odor issues, you may find yourself discounting your selling price significantly to attract a buyer.

Odors are the worst. People who keep pets in carpeted rooms even in cages or kennels can have serious problems. Clean any accident immediately with a special cleaner designed to remove pet urine odors. In extreme cases the odor will not be removed with a simple steam cleaning. In this situation the carpet should be replaced. Homeowners with poorly trained pets may find that they are not only replacing the carpet but also the padding and  the sub-flooring to eliminate the smell.

But smells aren't the only problem. Stains from accidents or the ground-in dirt from a favorite sleeping spot can be impossible to remove. Our cats knocked down a just-watered plant onto our light-colored carpeting a few years ago. The damp potting soil never completely was removed from the carpet. We plan to replace that carpet prior to selling our home. When our dog started to stain the carpet by sleeping in the exact same spot day after day, we invested in a few dog beds. By strategically placing the beds around the house, we protected our carpets from further discoloration.

It is possible to love your pet and protect your home!
  • Keep your pet well groomed to reduce odor, hair and nail damage.
  • Get a pet bed for your dogs and cats. Dogs 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 2012 Teri Eckholm