How pets can reduce the value of your home

Expect a huge cleaning bill or a lower sale price

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Selling your home? Got a pet? Then expect either a big cleaning bill or a big reduction on your sale price.

“Pets impact home sales in several ways,” explained Mark Santoyo of Chicago’s RE/MAX Loyalty. “The main concern with pets is their effect on a home’s cleanliness and its smell. If a home is nicely cleaned and free of pet odours, the presence of pets is rarely an issue. However, if there is pet hair everywhere, strong pet odour in the house or pet waste around the yard, it can increase the time needed to sell the property and reduce its value.”

Worse yet, you may be shutting down a potential sale to a fairly substantial segment of the market. It’s estimated that 20% to 30% of young adults will react to an airborne allergen, such as pet dander. While studies show that early exposure to animals is beneficial, the prevalence of other medical conditions, such as asthma, hay fever, will also influence an allergic response. A Swedish study found that 40% of kids with asthma reacted to cats, 34% reacted to dogs and 28% reacted to horses.

Animal allergies are a common concern, and buyers who have them can be easily turned off if a house has pets, explains David Scott of RE/MAX Valley Realtors in Roscoe, Illinois.

“Buyers occasionally are sensitive enough that they ask not to see homes where certain pets, typically cats or dogs, are residents. Other buyers will ask to leave a home immediately if they smell strong or foul pet odours,” Scott said. Of course, many buyers have pets of their own and often show greater tolerance.

But it’s not just odour or pet hair that’s a problem. Yellow or dying grass in the front or backyard, half-chewed toys littered in yards or across rooms, as well as open or smelly litter boxes can prompt concerns, even in pet-loving buyers.

That’s because problems associated with pets can last for years, says Damian Ciszek of RE/MAX 10 in Chicago.

“If pets urinated in the house, the odour can linger indefinitely, and pets can do lasting damage to the woodwork by scratching or chewing,” says Ciszek.

So what should pet owners do to be sure Rover and Fluffy don’t negatively impact the sale of their home? RE/MAX brokers offer five straightforward bits of advice:

→ Clean the place, especially any rugs or carpeting, thoroughly before putting the home on the market, which may mean calling in professionals. And don’t forget the air vents.
Once the house is clean, keep it that way.

→ Pet owners often don’t notice the odours caused by their animals, so it’s best to ask your broker or friend if odours are noticeable.

→ If animals have urinated in the house, replace the affected carpeting or flooring, eliminating the odour at its source.

→ Ideally, remove pets from the home while the house is on the market. If that’s impractical, either take the pets out during showings or keep them confined in a small room or crate.

Santoyo added that pets also can be a distraction. Some people are phobic about animals. Others adore them. Either group can have a hard time ignoring a pet if it is wandering around the home.

“Do you want a buyer playing with your cat for 15 minutes or seeing the best features of your home?” he asked.

To help you get highest sale price for your home, consider spending money to fix the problems. “It may not be cheap,” says Ciszek, “but it will make money for you in the long run.” As a way to illustrate his point, Ciszek states that an animal-damaged home is like a home that hasn’t been updated in 30 years. Scott estimates that for every dollar a potential seller will need to spend to clean or remediate a pet problem, they’ll reduce their bid price by $2 to $3. For example, if it would cost $10,000 to replace the floors the buyer will reduce their offer by $20,000 to $30,000.

“If you want to achieve maximum value on your home sale, it’s best to correct the flaws yourself, rather than offering credits to the buyer,” added Scott.

Read more from Romana King at Home Owner on Facebook »

3 comments on “How pets can reduce the value of your home

  1. I totally disagree with your comments on pets – if the owner is clean, then the home will not smell even if you have a pet. I think these suggestions are ridiculous. If you have a pet, what are you supposed to do with him while your house is on the market. If your kids are untidy, should you get rid of them also? I find your article very anti-pet and not all pets destroy a home. Some are really well behaved. It all depends on the owner.

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  2. I would NEVER consider buying a home where there are, or have been, pets. You can never completely rid the house of pet residue.

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  3. We actually passed up on a great house because we found a cat scratching post in the basement. We can clean up residue from dogs or smokers, but if a disgruntled cat pees on the floor, expect to replace it. And not just the finish, I literally mean all of it. Bust up the concrete, or replace a piece of the floor joists. Cat pee seeps into the pores of materials and is impossible to remove. Beware of cat houses if you are not a cat lover.

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