Pets that help sell homes

Conventional staging wisdom says pets should stay out of sight when your house is on the market. But these Manhattan cats and dogs helped seal the deal.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 1, 2011 11:05AM

© Susie Cushner/Image Source/Getty ImagesWe've all heard about the basics of staging a home for sale: reduce the clutter, get rid of the wallpaper, showcase a few well-displayed accessories.


Never once has Sabrina Soto, the HGTV staging guru, suggested leaving a friendly dog or cat around to warm up the home. In fact, she advises hiding any evidence that a pet has ever been there.

But according to The New York Times, some Manhattan real-estate agents have found family pets an asset, not a liability, in selling property.

Jon Lightman and Judy Batalion were charmed by the resident cat they met at a Chelsea loft they eventually bought.


"We were so flattered by the cat’s attention," Lightman told The Times. "He was so warm and social. He’d climb on anyone, even our real-estate broker and us. He made the apartment feel lived in, homey."


My tabby greets all guests at the door, but he occasionally bites one, so he may not be a good cat for staging, even if his warm neutral color does match the gray sofa.

The real-estate agents interviewed by The Times' Constance Rosenblum told stories of several friendly animals they thought helped close the deal.


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Wraggles, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, proved such as natural at staging that he climbed without instruction onto a chaise in the living room, framing himself as part of the view. The dog was such a hit that his presence was requested at all future showings. To avoid those repellent doggie smells, Wraggles visited a dog spa beforehand.

"The person who bought the apartment told me that with the dog on the chaise lounge and the fire in the fireplace, it felt like a real home," owner Deborah Pilla told Rosenblum.

The agents did tell several stories in which the family pets did not help close the sale, including one in which seven barking Yorkies followed prospective buyers around as they toured the apartment. This is not a scenario that makes you want to hang around and take a second look at the granite countertops.

Real-estate broker J. Philip Faranda of New York, who owns a German shepherd, expressed skepticism that these few anecdotes are a signal to ignore the traditional home-staging advice to keep your pets where they can't be seen, heard or smelled. In a comment responding to the article, he wrote:

… I find the notion that pets do anything but hinder the sale of any property to be laughable. Just because a few anecdotal examples exist where people clicked with the pet doesn't detract from the fact that they are a distraction to the eyes, ears and nose.

What do you think? Would your pet help you sell the house or would he impel buyers to run in the opposite direction?

Oct 15, 2012 6:52PM
     Look, if I'm buying a home, whether the owner has pets or not & whether the animals are visible or not does not influence my decision, unless I find evidence of urine or feces or the home owner's animal is aggressive. Anyone whose decision is affected simply by the mere presence of a pet is mentally defective and should just buy a new home that's never been lived in.
Jun 14, 2012 6:53AM
My cousin is looking to sell homes. He was wondering if you guys knew any good real estate people? It would be very helpful for him if you could help him out. He found a website that he thinks will help him, but he is not sure. He wants other peoples opinions on it. is the website.
Jan 24, 2012 12:09PM
I'll be selling my house and looking for a new place soon.  If I knew a homeowner had pets - even if they weren't at the showing - I wouldn't even go in the house.  I like cats and some dogs, but I'm not interested in buying a house where I need to try to get odors out of the carpet pad and even the subfloor.  A bad experience with my last house.  Even with vacuuming over and over, you can still find pet hairs for years.  I hope a realtor will be honest when I ask if the owner has a pet, because I don't want to waste my time.
Jan 8, 2012 2:27PM

Two (of four) cats would possibly be out, the other two would hide unless you sit down the cats wouldn't come up to you.


The dog would friend anyone who came in, she will "go lay down" no matter who tells her to [lay down]. 


We have had one of the cats for 15 years.  
Everyone who comes into the house asks how we have no cat smell.  When we had only the one cat, the carpet cleaner didn't believe we had a pet.


I wouldn't take the older cat out of the house, he would be under a bed while people were there and he gets sick in a car (our cats are ONLY indoor pets).    If the cat made it so the house didn't sell, it just wasn't meant to be.

I would have no problem buying a house with pets in it; the pets go with the seller, I would however leave a place that had an aggresive animal, which wouldn't allow me to see the house...


We have four children and two grandchildren, three cats and a dog, they are all part of the family.

Jan 7, 2012 5:27AM
Quite some time ago I had occasion to sell my home that was on a rather small lot. When one particular appointment came by, I was unable to leave the premises, along with my little dachshund. So I took the dog in the back yard where we proceeded to play fetch and tag while the buyer & his agent were in the house. And the appointment resulted in a sale. I was later told that the buyer, a military man, was shopping on his own for he and and his pregnant wife. Seeing me and my critter playing in the back yard apparently sealed the deal - he envisioned his future children out there playing with their own pet. Maybe he would have bought in any event, but at least in my case, watching us play allowed him to see that even a small lot had possibilities and potential.
Jun 22, 2011 12:54PM
My daughter was bitten by a dog that was present during the showing.  We did NOT buy the house.  While I realize that most people have the common sense to take the necessary steps to prevent such a thing from happening, obviously not everyone does.
May 11, 2011 2:57PM
I have two dogs and a cat of my own. I am here to see the house, not the pets! keep them out for sure!
May 2, 2011 12:06AM
nothing sell a house better than an overly excited dog on its back.....peeing in the air in the center of the room licking its self.....are you nuts ?
Apr 8, 2011 1:53PM
One of my pets would welcome anyone, the other would run the opposite direction.  They don't smell, they are cats.  We make sure there is no cat odor in the house.
Apr 8, 2011 12:32PM
This may be helpful in the case of potential buyers that are pet owners, but you would likely scare away potential buyers who are not pet owners because of the big ick factor.  Of course, that may not make any difference since a significant portion of non-pet owner buyers would have scratched your property off the list right after they ask their broker if the property had ever had pets.
Apr 8, 2011 12:30PM

My cat tends to roll on the floor in front of anyone who enters the house... she's looking for belly rubs and is quite cute about it.  The dog, however, is a bit crazy.  We love her but even at 9 years old, she has A LOT of energy and thinks that everyone is her best friend.  She is not at the house when it's showing.


That being said, what I find interesting about this article and the topic of pets and real estate in general is that, while almost every real estate agent, stager, appraiser, mortgage loan officer, et al, will tell you that pets are not welcome when showing your home, statistics show that more people own pets than ever before.  Not only do Americans own more pets, but we treat them like one of the family.  Seems like conflicting information to me.  Nonetheless, the cat stays when the house shows, the dog does not!

Apr 8, 2011 11:53AM

My cocker spaniel would probably not help sell the house. They'd love him for the wonderful dog he is, but he's not being sold so why show him off?

Apr 8, 2011 10:18AM
There's no way I'm getting rid of my three babies! I bought a large kitty playpen to put my cats in during the day in case there's a showing (which there hasn't been in the almost three months it's been on the market). I do everything I can to keep their area neat, tidy, and odor free.
Apr 8, 2011 9:51AM
The pets aren't staying after the sale, so why have them visible during a showing?
Apr 8, 2011 6:32AM
No!  My dog would be so excited by visitors she'd want to greet them and jump on them and lick them and chase their feet.  Absolutely not.
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