Dog in Los GatosHome buyers confident about the property they’re purchasing will pay more, and worried buyers will pay less.  That’s a basic principle that home sellers in Silicon Valley will want to understand when making their houses, condos or townhomes “show ready”, since most home sellers are anxious to net the most money with the sale.

Whether it’s dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, or any other furry friend, animals in the home can cause selling problems.  Most frightening to home buyers is the threat that some currently undetected (or under represented) issue will loom larger a month or two (or later) after close of escrow. Pet stains on carpeting are not a huge deal, but they are annoying to find if furniture is moved and the discoloration is revealed. Bigger issues are at hand.  Think fleas.  And even more, think odors.

Once I had a Cambrian Park (San Jose) listing where at one time there was a dog on the property who seemed to like to urinate into the heat register and the ducting which led to it.  Although it didn’t smell all year, apparently the first time each winter that the heater was turned on, it created quite a stench.  My seller did disclose it, and had it cleaned, and also found a product to sprinkle in the impacted area that appeared to have neutralized it.  Fortunately, it was exactly one location.  Had the above measures failed, that part of the duct and the ” boot” that connects to the register could have been replaced.

Often, with dogs, simply replacing the carpeting and padding below it will take care of any accident-caused odors.  If the house has been closed up with a very old or unhealthy dog, more drastic action may be required, as the smell can lodge itself into curtains, sheetrock, etc. – much like cigarette smoke.

More difficult are cat issues, since some of these animals spray.  Give them something to climb on, and the spray can reach perhaps to the ceiling!   The owners may not even be aware of all of the impacted areas.  How can you know if the floors and walls are really clean?

There are some inspection services which employ the use of black lights to check for the presence of for urine (both animal and human, for the truly curious). Best Western hotels are now using these too – have a read:

Fleas are another concern, especially if there are multiple pets in the home. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian on the best way to treat any infestation as well as what can be done to prevent them in the first place.

Sellers: Got pets? Make it odor free and “un scary” before putting your property on the market! Eliminate fleas, replace stained carpeting, clean the walls if they’ve been sprayed. Otherwise, home buyers will either not bid on your property at all, or will pay substantially less because of concerns about lingering problems long after you’ve moved out.

Buyers: Read the disclosures very carefully to learn if there are pets at the property now or at any time in the past.  If you have concerns, discuss with your real estate agent and ask questions of the sellers (you can give your Realtor a list of questions to pass to the listing agent).