By Nan Johnston, Southern Staging & Redesign

Did you know that owning a pet can significantly reduce the value of your home?  Preparing a home to sell is difficult enough in the best of times, but throw in a pet or two and the task can seem impossible.

Staging a house to sell is crucial in any real estate market but how do you create the illusion that you are not a pet owner and that the “inmates haven’t taken over the asylum?”

Outdoor Evidence  – The first 10-20 seconds are the most important in how the buyer will evaluate your property.  Signs of a pet, such as digging, damaging plants or leaving behind their “deposits” are a huge area to address.  Cover the holes, replace the damaged plants and pick up the “deposits.” Try to keep Rover entertained so he won’t fill the need to dig.

Chewing and Scratching Damage of any species can ruin the look of a home. Inspect everything to identify any  damage, such as front and back doors, window ledges, screens, carpet and hardwood flooring, edges of trim, even your furniture. Why should the furniture matter? Because if a buyer sees that you’ve let your fur babies destroy the furniture, they will wonder if the house is really cared for properly.  Why risk it?

Stains – Pets have accidents and most of the time we don’t find them until the stain has dried and set in.  It’s important to decide if they are removable with a professional carpet cleaning, spot cleaning or if carpet should be replaced.  Hardwood floors may need refinishing, but that doesn’t always work either.

Odors – Are the No. 1 pet giveaway that a buyer can experience.  When they walk through the front door, it seems they always take a deep breath in an effort to relax and look at a property sensibly and you want that breath to be pleasant and not obvious that you have a pet.  Pet odors can live on your furniture, drywall, flooring, and pet hair will also have an odor that smells bad. Constant vacuuming and mopping, repainting walls and trim can help eliminate pet odors. Keep covers on the furniture and constantly wash and replace to reduce the odors.  Wash the pet bedding often to help with odors.

Showing Instructions.  If possible, remove any evidence of pets, by putting away pet toys, bedding, litter boxes, food and crates and remove the pets during a showing.  Hire a pet sitter or send them to day care.

Selling a home with pets is worth it in the long run, but will take some work.

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Nan Johnston is a professional home staging consultant from Newnan with over 30 years experience in the real estate industry. Check out her website for some interesting before and after photos at www.southernstaging.com. To contact her, email her at nan@southern-staging.com.