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Friday, December 28, 2007

Don't let the cat out...

When I show houses I quite often will get showing instructions that include “don’t let the cat out.” That always raises an alarm in my mind. Why would they say that, unless the cat is one of those who wants to get out and might try to escape when I open the door? Most cats that I encounter are more likely to run and hide under a bed somewhere than to aggressively try to get out, but I’ve had a few cats that just wanted out and there was no way that one could stop them. They bolted just as the door was opened. Fortunately they didn’t really want to stay out that long, so they came back in when I left. But, I’m sure that there are cats that would just as soon roam around the neighborhood for the day, especially if the weather’s good.

I’m not sure what the solution to this issue is. As a Realtor I have a fiduciary obligation to try to carry out the wishes of my client (the buyer in this example), but I also am bound by our standards of practice to try to protect the home owner from any damages or loses that might be caused by our visit (which would include the homeowner’s pets). So, I take my shoes off and make sure that my clients do, too; if the homeowner has specified that. I try to turn off the lights before we leave, although some homes have light switches that are hard to find. And, I try not to let the cat out. But, cats don’t always co-operate with the program.

Most dog owners will cage their dogs or restrict them to a room or the garage, if the dogs are likely to either threaten visitors or are too friendly. Most dogs will still bark when strangers enter the house and that can be a distraction for the showing. Cat owners seldom cage or room-restrict their cat, so one can encounter the cat anywhere in the house. One can try to make a game of it (find the cat), but many buyers would just as soon not have to be stepping gingerly around the house afraid that they might step on the cat or have the cat attack their stocking feet (that has happened to me, too).

So, home sellers who have pets should understand that they share the responsibility, if they let their pets roam the house while they are gone. Doing doggy or cat day-care, if you can afford it is better than having a barking dog or a scampering cat in the house while an agent it trying to show it.

As a home seller you should think about the impact of making your pet(s) an issue with showing the house. There is also the whole issue of the allergies that dogs or cats can kick-off in many buyers. I’ve had clients have allergic reactions just by walking into a home with a cat. We didn’t stay and they didn’t buy.

So, I will try not to let your cat out; but, don’t let your dog or cat be the reason that your house doesn’t sell.

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