Can owning a pet reduce the value of your home?

How to Get a Pet-Free Price
Lingering pet odors are the biggest issue that can lower your home's value.
Lingering pet odors are the biggest issue that can lower your home's value.

Most homeowners would much rather deal with the pet damage than part ways with their furry friends. But when it comes time to sell their homes, they might reconsider. Scratches, chewing damage, stains and odors are all dead giveaways that you're a pet owner. And before you stage your home for potential buyers, any damage must be addressed if you hope to have any chance of selling your home for its pre-pet value.

Odors are the biggest issue: As smokers will attest, persistent smells can require significant cleanings to remove them for good. So if buyers are greeted by the overwhelming smell of animals, they may think twice about putting in an offer. And if they do, it will probably include the cost for repairs and clean-up they'll have to incur to make the house livable -- and breathable -- again. Odors in carpets are especially difficult because spot cleaning doesn't penetrate to the carpet pad or subfloor, and urine often can. So, you may need to replace the stained carpet and pad, as well as possibly repair or seal the subfloor.

Set-in stains on your walls, trim and furniture can cause pet odors as well. So if you don't want to spend the money to replace a piece of furniture or rug, make sure you remove them during the staging process. Scratches and chewing damage are much easier problems to fix, but that doesn't mean they should be overlooked. They're clear signs that you own a pet, and that alone could put off some buyers and affect your home's final sale price.

Once you've finished making necessary repairs, properly stage your home so there are no signs of any pets: Remove feeding dishes, food and treats, dog beds, cat trees, leashes and toys in the yard, and make sure they're stored where a nosey buyer won't find them. Ideally you'll have a friend or family member who can watch your animals while your house is for sale to make it easier to show, but if not, you'll have to take them with you when buyers are walking through.

All of this may seem like a lot of hard work and extra money to put into a house you're trying to sell, but in the end it should pay off with a final sale price that meets -- or exceeds -- its pre-pet value.

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