Dogs Cats and Real Estate
Canadians love their pets – really love them.
About 57 per cent of Canadians own a pet, according to a recent poll by Ipsos Public Affairs. That’s not as many as in the U.S., where 67 per cent of households have a pet, but it’s still a lot animals. In Canada, the Ipsos poll found 35 per cent of households own a cat and 32 per cent have a dog. Another 10 per cent own some other kind of pet.
“Our research tells us that the majority of pet owners say they would spend ‘whatever it takes’ to make their pet better if they are sick or injured. Now that’s real love,” says Kathy Buckworth, chief family advisor for Presidents Choice Financial, which sells pet insurance. Pet owners are clearly willing to pay expensive veterinarian bills.
Another way that pets drag their owners down financially is when they go to sell their home. Although pet owners find it hard to understand, not everyone is as forgiving of the impact pets have in a house. Without some preparation, a home with a pet could spend a long time on the market before it sells. A recent study, Home Life: Factors Structuring the Bacterial Diversity Found Within and Between Homes discovered both positive and negative aspects to having a dog in the house. “We found that the presence of dogs in the house can have a large effect on the types of microbes found on household surfaces… The presence of dogs had significant effects on both the diversity and the types of bacteria found within homes on surfaces that may be in direct contact with dogs (e.g., pillows) and those that they are unlikely to ever touch (television screens),” write the authors.
“When you bring a dog into your house, you are not just bringing a dog, you are also introducing a suite of dog-associated taxa directly into your home environment, some of which may have direct or indirect effects on human health.” The authors say that might not be all bad. “Although it was not our objective to determine the effects these dog-associated bacterial taxa may have on human health, it has long been suggested that individuals in homes with dogs might be less at risk for allergenic diseases. In particular, research suggests that pregnant mothers who live in houses with dogs are less likely to give birth to children who go on to develop allergies or atopic dermatitis.”
Despite this advantage, if you are trying to sell a home that has pets, chances are the potential buyers will take their presence as a negative. Many people have allergies to pets; some are afraid of pets such as snakes and rats; and many other people, hard as it may be to believe, just don’t like them. Before holding showings or an open house, it’s probably best to eliminate all signs that you are a pet owner. The most obvious tip-off is the smell – you may be used to the odour of your pets and don’t notice it, but visitors probably will.
Make sure the house is thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed. Check for fur under appliances and in crevices throughout the home. Get rid of the litter box and the pet’s toys and furniture. Wash nose prints off the windows and doors.
Make sure you and your pet are not home on the day of the open house or during showings.
If your pet has had “accidents” around the house, the Humane Society of the United States recommends buying a black light at a home supply store so you can find old urine stains. You should clean these areas thoroughly because your pet will return to the scene of its “crime” and do it again if the area isn’t neutralized, says the society.
To clean washable items, add a one-pound box of baking soda to regular detergent and air dry the items. For carpet and upholstery, rent an extractor or wet vac, advises the society. Once the area is clean, use a high-quality pet odour neutralizer, available at pet supply stores. If the area still looks stained, try a carpet stain remover. The society says you should avoid using a steam cleaner because it will permanently set the stain and odour. Don’t use cleaning chemicals – they don’t cover the smell and may actually encourage your pet to come back to reinforce the scent in that area, says the society.
Once you sell property, make sure your new home is welcoming for your pets. Many condominium buildings have pet rules that prohibit or limit the number, size and type of pets you may have. Make sure you read the condominium’s rules and regulations carefully. In Ontario, one condominium had a rule that no dogs that weighed more than 25 pounds were allowed. An owner sued and won the right to keep a larger dog, but the decision was overturned on appeal.
Sell a home that has pets is Written by Jim Adair
for my Aug 2014 Realty Times e-newsletter