As real estate brokers we move families from one location to another by selling their homes; if a pet lives in the home, you can believe they are part of that family.
When I first visit a home to take information in order to determine value there are many times I am greeted by the seller’s pets. I grew up with pets and I always remember the 24-hour rule. The 24-hour rule for me was that if I had possession of a pet for at least 24 hours then I would become attached and they were going to be made a part of my family. I really understand that special bond between a seller and their pet.
When I list a home for sale and there is a pet in the house, special instructions need to be explained. Not all people feel the same about pets. When a broker shows the property with a pet I recommend they ask the buyer if they are OK with the pet being home. They may be nervous if they have had a bad experience or, for that matter, lack of experience.
If the buyer is nervous I ask if there is any way the pet can be taken out while the showing is occurring. The buyer needs to look at what the house has to offer and not where the pet is. Most of the time the sellers will know how the dog or cat will react around strangers and would make special arrangements.
I remember going to a property in Clarendon when I first got in the business and when I got to the property we had a key to enter through the back door because the seller was not going to be there. Posted on the window of the door was a note saying beware of the cat. I interpreted the note the wrong way and told the buyers that once I opened the door we needed to get in fast so the cat did not get out.
We entered into the house and went through the kitchen and there was no sighting of the cat so we went into the living room and the cat was in one of the chairs. I was glad to see the cat because I am always cautious about making sure a pet does not get shut behind a door. The home was a Cape Cod and the staircase was open on the bottom. We proceeded to go up to the second floor to look at the bedrooms and all of the sudden the cat was on the buyer’s back with all claws extending into his shirt. We were all petrified and immediately ran up the stairs. Then the cat was obviously scared and had gone back downstairs while we continued to hide upstairs.
What do we do now, because we are on the second floor and we are thinking he is somewhere on guard on the first level. The buyer had lost concentration on what the house had to offer and we needed to get out of the home. I have been around many cats in my lifetime and have even owned a special cat with an extreme personality so I told him to follow me. We proceeded with caution to the first floor and were extremely happy when the back door shut and I locked it.
The seller had told the listing broker about the cat and forgot to secure the cat for the showing. I felt bad because the cat was in his environment and we were invading that space.
When a seller has pets it is very important to keep them and their areas clean. The litter box should be clean, along with their eating and bedding areas. Certain odors can be a real distraction when showing the property. I have compassion for the seller who sells their house and they have a pet because if they were like me, I was worried about how my pet would adapt in their new environment. They adapt sometimes better than we do and what they really care about is that they continue to be loved.
It is best when moving that you keep the cat in the house for a couple of days so that they get used to their new home. Animals are extremely smart. I remember when I was getting ready to go on a vacation I would try and hide the luggage because if my cat Tiggy saw it he would get mad at us because he knew his world was going to be different while we were gone.
I have always felt that a home is who is in the home and not what is in the home. Sure, buyers like upgrades in homes such as a modern kitchen and baths but if you were to ask a seller what is special about their home they would say the memories that were made in the home, and I will just bet that over the years a pet was part of that story.
Lauren Hughes is the principal broker at Century 21 Premiere Properties in Rutland. Call at 775-5565, ext. 12, email at Lhughes995@aol.com