Concealing Pet Ownership: Staging your home

Written By Cindy Aldridge from

State laws require that home sellers provide full disclosure about certain aspects of their homes once they enter the market. It’s a measure designed to protect buyers from unscrupulous homeowners trying to pass off certain home problems onto unsuspecting individuals. While lead paint and water damage are “must tells,” there are many things that don’t require disclosure; factors that could impact a sale and could be shared at the owner’s discretion. Fortunately, pet ownership falls into this category.  Despite our love for our furry friends, many realtors advise concealing pet ownership when staging their home for sale, even if the prospective buyers are pet owners themselves. Pets conjure up images of stained carpeting, balls of pet hair, and fleas. Most of which are problems that most buyers would rather not inherit.

There are a number of improvements you can make that will hide or divert attention from the fact that your house is home to a dog, cat or some other fur-bearing friend. Most are fairly simple fixes, things that can freshen up the look (and smell) of your home’s interior, making it look bright and appealing even if you’ve been a pet owner for many years.

First things first

There’s a lot of common sense involved in staging your home. You can do a lot to help yourself with a little paint, a clean house, and some cosmetic fixes. There is no substitute for a well-lit house, one with open curtains and plenty of lamps showing off the most attractive features of a home that’s free of clutter. Don’t forget you can always enhance your curb appeal with a few painting touch-ups, some newly planted flowers, and a well-manicured lawn, all of which is indicative of a clean and attractive property. So how do you conceal the fact that yours is home to a pet?

Out of sight, out of mind

Imagine your home being shown by a realtor, which typically happens when the owner’s not present. You wouldn’t want the agent maneuvering around your curious pooch every time he or she took a prospective buyer into a different room or having to fend off a dog that’s a little too familiar with everyone. That’s why you should consider leaving your dog with a friend, family member or neighbor on days when your home will be shown. If you can’t find a willing volunteer, you could also consider boarding your pooch.

Take a good look around

The longer you’ve had your pet, the more evidence of it you’re likely to find around the house. You may consider your dog or cat to be a family member, but they’re still animals that obey their basic instincts from time to time, and that can mean stained carpeting, scratched hardwood, ripped furniture and scratched walls. If you’re determined to sell your home, it’s a small price to pay to repair the knicks, cuts and dark spots that indicate a dog or cat lives there.

The smell will tell

Cat urine is a pungent indication that you’re a pet owner. And there’s nothing quite like the funky essence of wet dog to discourage a home buyer. In fact, bad odors are one of the leading buyer turn-offs, according to most realtors. Hiring a professional carpet cleaner is a good way to remove the olfactory evidence of your pet ownership. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs $150-$293 to have rugs or carpets cleaned in Washington.

Easy Fixes

You may be convinced that your pet is the cutest thing that ever shed fur, but a home buyer may not share your enthusiasm. In fact, most buyers don’t like the idea of buying a property that’s clearly home to an animal, or animals. You can overcome their bias with some easy fixes that’ll make your house a more attractive prospect.