It’s a remarkable fact of real estate that even lifelong pet owners will turn up their noses at a house that clearly shows the wear and tear of dog or cat ownership. Fur-covered furniture, stained carpeting, and the unmistakable smell of cat urine or wet dog are red flags for prospective buyers looking for a property that’s in pristine condition, inside and out. That’s a problem when it comes to staging your home. And it can lead to a very disappointing outcome, particularly if you’ve spent lots of money and hours renovating your house with the intention of selling. As a seller, you need to keep your circle of prospective buyers as large as you can, so be sure to follow some simple, easy-to-follow tips when you’re staging.

Erase the damage

If you’ve ever owned pets, you know the havoc they can wreak in your home, and how easy it can be to forget that a couch has been torn up by the cat or that a baseboard has been gnawed on by your frisky dog. They may seem like innocuous little imperfections, but you can be sure that a discerning homebuyer or real estate agent is going to find them. It makes a bad impression, and it’ll leave a buyer wondering what other little problems are lying in wait.

That’s why you need to carefully repair what your pets have done to your home’s interior. If your dog has problems controlling his bladder and bowels, rent a carpet shampooer or consider having a professional carpet cleaning company do a thorough job throughout your home. It’ll get rid of the stains and make everything smell better.

Hide the evidence Even a real estate agent with years of experience might overlook a charming photo of your cat or your dog posing in Santa’s lap at the mall. So take a very careful look around before you begin showing your home to prospective buyers. Even the most dedicated dog lovers are put off by evidence of a pet on the property they’re considering buying. And don’t forget social media. If you’ve shared lots of happy photos of your pooch on Facebook, be sure to take them down so you don’t have to concoct a story about all the charity work you do for disadvantaged dogs.

Police the yard Your lawn can conceal many telltale signs, such as dog droppings or chew toys. It’s an area that’s easy to overlook, so be sure to carefully inspect your entire lot, again assuming that a buyer will do the same. If you own a terrier, beagle, or some other breed that loves to dig holes, be sure to fill them (it’s hard to make a buyer happy when he’s twisted his ankle in your backyard). Same goes for any flowers or shrubs that your pooch has pawed at. Replant or cover the space with soil and smooth it over like nothing’s wrong.

Air it out

You may not realize it, but your nose becomes accustomed to the accumulated smells that years of pet ownership leave behind. Of course, buyers will notice as soon as they’re three steps inside the front door. If you don’t believe it, ask some neighbors or friends to take the smell test and tell you what they think. If the verdict is officially smelly, try filling a spray bottle with vinegar, nature’s greatest de-scenter. Spray along the edges of the floor, the vents, and any carpeted areas that are especially bad.

Good first impression

When it comes to selling your home, first impressions are everything. You want buyers to be impressed with your window treatments and floor layout, not wrinkling their noses at the lingering smell of pet funk. It’s easy enough to cover your tracks and keep the subject of pets from ever coming up.

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This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.