Where should the pets go when showing a home?

When you list your home for sale, you'll need to be constantly prepared to vacate the premises at any time. This situation doesn't just arise because you'll need to move to another home; it's also best to clear out when your real estate agent schedules a showing.

It's easy enough to go for a walk, head out to dinner, or otherwise kill some time while a potential buyer tours the property. It can be much more complicated if you have a dog, cat, or other roaming pets on the premises.

Sellers are usually encouraged to remove any personal items, such as family photos, when showing a home to help buyers picture themselves in the residence. Naturally, this also means your pet shouldn't be present if you can help it.

Many buyers might be happy to meet your furry friend, but this won't always be the case. Tony Mariotti, owner of the Los Angeles real estate resource RubyHome, says some buyers may be nervous around animals, especially if they're touring a home with children. Others may be allergic to dogs or cats and none too pleased to encounter them in the home.

Pets may also not react well if left in the home when your agent brings strangers by. People unfamiliar with your home may accidentally let an indoor cat escape outside. Dogs may bark at the visitors, distracting them as they try to see the home. The real estate site Zillow says dogs can also react aggressively, and that homeowners insurance may not cover the costs if your pooch bites someone.

Isolating a pet in the garage or room isn't a good solution. Buyers will want a thorough tour of your home, so they're likely to encounter the animal on their walkthrough.

The best option is to take your pets out of the home while it is being shown. Elizabeth Weintraub, writing for the financial site The Balance, says you might take them to a neighbor or a friend, or use the opportunity to bring them to the groomer or a pet spa. You may be able to bring your dog into your workplace for the day, or simply take them for a walk or drive until the showing is over.

You might also consider relocating the pet for a lengthier amount of time. However, prolonged boarding is not only expensive, but can also be stressful for both the pet and the owner. Lewith & Freeman Real Estate, a Pennsylvania company, says finding a local pet sitter or arranging for a one-day boarding are preferable options.

Some showings can take place with little notice. In these cases, Zillow says you might crate the animal, keep them in a visible location, and leave a note asking visitors to leave them alone.

Hiding signs of any pets is also an important step to take when showing the home. You'll need to complete some of this work well in advance of any showings, such as repairing pet damage, cleaning up pet dander, and deodorizing the rooms. Lisa Kaplan Gordon, writing for Realtor.com, says you should also clear out or hide items such as food and water bowls, leashes, and litter boxes.

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