Buying and selling homes with pet odors, stains and other issues

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. (more…)

Got dogs? Buying a home may be much easier than renting one.

Dog in Los GatosGot a dog? Many Los Gatos residents do – which is ironic when you consider that the town is named for cats (Los Gatos = The Cats).  The household pooch can, for many, make a house a home.  But if you’re a renter in Los Gatos or anywhere in Silicon Valley, it can also make it a challenge to find a place to live.

Why the fuss about dogs?

Landlords always worry that tenants will destroy their property, causing the need for loads of repairs later.  Having either smokers or pets increases the risk of property damage.  Additionally, dogs tend to be noisy, most with barking at strangers but some howling, too.   For townhouse or condo residents, this is cause for complaint from neighbors and the HOA.

Of course, not all canine situations are the same.  If you own a small, quiet dog, it will be much different than if you have a pair of Great Dane or Beagle puppies.  Some places may have restrictions on the animal’s weight, others on the breed (with certain types of dogs such as pit bulls, rottweilers or dobermans prohibited).

Cats are a little easier, in part because they’re smaller, quieter, don’t need to be let out to relieve themselves, and often can inhabit a property with little annoyance to those nearby.  But some felines spray, scratch curtains and can be destructive, so while the restrictions on dogs are pretty common, there’s often a bit more flexibility with cats, but it’s far from absolutely easy to rent with cats.

The Humane Society has tips for pet owners who are looking for a rental.  Great advice here:

Right now, the Silicon Valley housing market is very tight, with limited supply of inventory both to rent and to purchase.  For people with multiple pets especially, though, it may be easier to buy a home than rent one (if the down payment is available) since landlords can have all sorts of animal restrictions, and if you are able to rent with them, the cost will undoubtedly be higher each month.    When buying, many prospective purchasers include personal letters and sometimes photos.  A friendly looking pooch may be a help in your securing that next home, too.




Tips on home selling with pets

Tips on Pets and Home SellingSometimes when homes listed for sale in Silicon Valley don’t sell, it’s not about the location, the price, the floor plan or even the marketing.  It’s about the pets.  Of course, many agents have learned in real estate training classes that “there’s no problem that a better price can’t fix” – and that’s true, but most sellers would rather make the house more appealing and sell for higher rather than only address selling obstacles with a lower price.  I think we do sellers a great disservice if we tippy toe around problems and make it all about price, when other solutions might be far better.  At the very least, sellers deserve to know that they have a choice.  Today we’ll look at the problem with selling a property with pets present and some solutions to help sell the home faster and for more money.

What’s the problem with pets at a home for sale?

There are several things which can happen with pets in the home (or to a lesser extent, the yard) to damage the odds of selling or of selling at a good price:

(1) Odors:  For people who don’t live with cats, dogs, bunnies and other furry friends, the odors given off by these companions can seem very strong and unappealing.  When we live with animals, we can get used to the smell of them, their bedding or cages and it is very possible that we won’t find offensive what can send buyers screaming out of the house.  Once in Los Gatos I previewed a house during the broker’s tour where there were multiple bunnies in cages in one of the bedrooms.  The stench was terrible – my family and I have had bunnies (but outside), but I’d never smelled anything so ghastly.  I think the cages hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time.  Or perhaps the rabbits were extremely old.   In any case, I literally had to leave because the odor was sickening.

(2) Fear of the animals:  Some home buyers are allergic to cats, dogs, and other pets with fur.  Others are simply afraid of them, at least if they are indoors.   For some of these people, even knowing that you have an indoor pet (unless it’s in a cage or aquarium) is enough to keep them away.   Sometimes listing agents will let buyers agents know that a dog is loose in the house but “don’t worry, Fido is friendly”.  That is not a help if the buyer is either allergic or afraid!  Some animals will frighten people even if they are in a cage or terrarium. Snakes and spiders may have that impact! (more…)