We love our dogs, but that doesn’t mean that potential buyers want to see said pets (or any evidence of them) when looking at a home they’re thinking of buying.
“Pets are either an attractive distraction, so cute they distract prospective buyers from looking at the real estate, or completely the opposite,” says Diane Saatchi, a New York real estate broker.
Don’t want your precious property to be known as “that dog house”? Well, you need to de-dog your place when preparing and showing it for sale. Here’s how, in six simple steps.
Check your insurance
Although you know your dog would never intentionally hurt anyone, they could scratch or bite a potential buyer whom they mistake for an intruder on their territory. You could be held liable for any harm your dog causes, so make sure your homeowners insurance covers you for incidents like these.
However, some insurers will not cover anyone who owns particular dog breeds; and if they do provide coverage, it could be expensive. If your dog is one of these breeds, or even if he isn’t, it’s best to keep him out of the house during a showing.
Prepare your yard
Buyers will walk around your yard, a stroll that will be ruined if they step in poop or turn an ankle where your dog likes to dig.
Perform a poop patrol before each showing. Double-bag the waste before disposing, so your garbage cans don’t smell when buyers walk by. Fill all holes, and sprinkle grass seed on top.
Before putting your house on the market, make sure your yard is a green oasis. You can try to aerate and seed bare spots. But if that doesn’t work fast enough, you can replace ugly patches with new sod. Then, train Spot to use an out-of-the-way spot for his business, or better yet, take him out for potty walks.
Remove the dog odors
Removing the odors pets leave behind is one of the biggest challenges. Trying to erase odor from years of piddle on rugs or hardwood is no easy feat.
If a bacteria-eating pet-odor remover doesn’t banish all traces of dog urine, you might have to hire a professional service to clean carpets or rugs. (Perhaps you should consider this, whether you are selling your home or not.) Often, the odor returns, so if a carpet continues to reek, replace it before buyers trek through.
Clean up the dog hair
A layer of dog or cat hair on floors and sofas makes your home look messy, and it can also trigger allergies—sending potential buyers out the door sneezing and wheezing.
Before each showing, vacuum and dust to remove any settled hair or dander. Or, consider buying a robot vacuum that you can schedule to suck up hair several times a day. They actually work!
If your pet sheds, brush him frequently outside, so the hair doesn’t fly around the house. Bathing him can help minimize shedding, too.
Hide the evidence
Like kids, dogs (or rather, their caretakers) tend to accumulate lots of stuff—leashes, collars, toys, water bowls, food, cute sweaters, and costumes for Christmas and Halloween. But no matter how adorable you may think it all is, to buyers, it’s just clutter.
Make sure you stow pet paraphernalia in a cupboard or closet. Put dry food bins in a laundry room or mudroom. Wash pet beds to remove odors and dirt, and only display them if they’re attractive.
Say goodbye to your pets (just for a while!)
If you decide to leave your dogs or cats at home, either crate them or confine them to a special area of the house, and make sure your real estate agent knows where they are. Keep them busy with interactive toys or long-lasting treats.
It’s best for everyone if you can find a playdate for your pet before a home showing, or send him to Grandma’s for an extended stay. But remember that pets have emotions, too—especially when it comes to a change in their routines.
When you stow their toys, move their water bowl, or put them in a crate when strangers inspect their home, some pets will feel confused and anxious. So before making any major changes in the life of a dog or cat, talk to your veterinarian, who can help you ease your pet’s transition to a temporary new home.
This article originally appeared on realtor.com