There was a time when selling a home with a pet was a major issue for sellers and real estate agents. Great efforts went into masking odors, eliminating stains, putting up food/water bowls, closing doggy doors, removing litter pans, putting toys away and even finding a place for the pet to be during showings. Needless to say, it required a lot of extra work on top of the other tasks needed to get the home ready for showing.
In today’s market, most of this has changed, and pet-friendly homes are now considered by many to be a benefit.
With 65 percent of households currently owning a pet, having a pet is no longer a “downside” when it comes to buyers and sellers. However, even though 79 million households have at least one pet, home owners still need to present a clean, pet-stain and odor-free home when listing it for sale.
More than just having pets, an estimated 83 percent of people actually consider the pet a member of the family. This is causing home owners and agents to see pet-friendly homes in a different light.
Agents understand that people are passionate about their pets. But more than understanding that passion is delivering service that meets the client’s specific needs.
Ways Real Estate Agents Can Become More Pet-Savvy
Agents can attract more pet-friendly clients by marketing themselves as pet-savvy. To do so, agents should invest in some general education about pets and their needs. This will allow them to spot key features of a home that would attract a person with a pet.
Agents can connect with pet professionals and businesses in their area to market their services. Great places to start include training schools, rescue organizations, pet stores and boarding facilities.
Agents can join special groups and networks such as the Pet Realty Network which connects buyers and sellers with pet-savvy real estate agents. Agents can also connect with other agents for referrals.
The Buyer Agent
During the initial meeting with a buyer, agents should get information about the buyer’s pets. A separate questionnaire just for the pet needs might be beneficial. This allows the agent to see exactly what features they should look for to help make the home not only perfect for their client, but for the client’s pets as well.
For example, a buyer with two big dogs will likely appreciate a larger fenced yard over an amenity that offers little by the way of quality of life for the dogs.
If the buyer is looking for a home in an HOA-regulated community, agents should inform their clients about potential restrictions placed on pet ownership. For example, there could be a limit on the size or type of pet allowed.
The Seller Agent
Because pet ownership is so common, it makes for a natural selling point when showcasing a pet-friendly home. Aspects such as secure fencing, convenient access to the yard, easy-to-clean floors and even a pet-friendly town can all be considered added value to a home.
When selling a home with a pet currently in residence, agents should share these reminders with their clients:
• Nobody loves your pet as much as you do. For the safety and wellbeing of everyone, including your pet, it is best if your pet is either put up safely, or is away from the home during a showing.
• Clean up toys, bones, beds, and all other pet-related items.
• Thoroughly clean all floors and carpets of dirt and stains.
• Eliminate litter boxes until the showing is over.
• Make sure the yard is picked up.
An agent who can address the specific needs of a client with a pet is extremely valuable.