Kids and Pets at a Home Showing

Monday July 26, 2021

Illustration of an open house

Let’s get this out of the way immediately…we all love our kids and the same can be probably said for our pets. However, if you are planning on buying or selling a home, it is a good idea to have some ground rules for both.

If you are selling, please plan on leaving the home during the showing. The large majority of buyers are much more comfortable without the seller being present. The buyers are also much more likely to give honest opinions on the home. Therefore, let’s look at how your kids and pets can influence a buyer and what you can do about it.

Let’s start with the animals: If you are like my family, your dog is an important part of the family but when you are trying to sell your home a buyer shouldn’t be able to detect their presence. If your dog is the kindest, sweetest animal and would never bite anyone or attempt to leave the home if someone opens the door, please still consider taking them with you when you leave the home. No matter how many times a REALTOR® says to a buyer, “don’t worry the dog doesn’t bite” when a seller leaves even a harmless dog at the house, the buyers become distracted from what they should be thinking about…your house. Worse yet, they may even be allergic to your dog or cat. A few winters ago I had a buyer who wouldn’t come to a home that had a cat in it, and four years ago a nervous dog left “a gift” on the finished basement floor. The parent of my buyer stepped in it. Sorry, no sale Mr. & Ms. Seller.

If you are unable to remove your pet, please keep them in a cage any time a buyer is touring your house. Again, I love animals but caging your pets will also help prevent unwelcome “gifts” from showing up at the buyers’ feet. If you can’t control your pets or they’re too large to cage for long periods of time, then consider boarding them during the day or sending them to stay with family, friends or a neighbor. Another option is hiring a dog walker for the period of time that the home is being shown. My experience tells me that most pets would rather be away from all the people traipsing through the house.

Additionally, before buyers arrive for the showing, be sure your house is clear of any smells or fur your pets may have left behind. Oftentimes, it can be difficult for homeowners to recognize these smells if they have gotten used to them. Therefore, think about asking a friend or neighbor to stop over to give the house a “smell test” before the showing. Simply renting a carpet cleaner or having the furniture and carpets professionally cleaned will prevent any lingering fur or odor from distracting your buyer. The other tried and true solution is to bake some cookies. Even if the buyer doesn’t like the house it will smell terrific AND you have homemade cookies to munch on. Not exactly a win/win, more like a lose/win/win…oh well.

On to the kids; it’s obviously important to make sure your house is neat and tidy before a showing. With infants come dirty diapers. You would be surprised how many sellers do not remove the diaper disposal unit into the garage (not ideal) or outside in the trash (ideal).

A “no eating outside of the kitchen” policy should be in place for all kids and maybe the not so neat spouse. You may find yourself walking behind your child as he/she plays with a toy to make sure it is put away. While you may think you are crazy this is perfectly normal.

Lastly, if you are a buyer, you do not want your young children at the first visit to a home. Your children will more than likely act like kids and distract you from the home. You can bring the children back to the second showing if interested in the home the first time through.

If you have any questions about this article, real estate in general or are looking to buy or sell a home please contact me, John McCarthy at Rowley Realty, 165 Main St., Rowley, MA 01969, Phone: 978 948-2758, Cell 978 835-2573 or via email at

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