Pet-friendly Realtors

CBR001055Pet owners can face a dilemma when putting their homes up for sale.

Many real estate agents will tell them to remove all traces of dogs and cats from a home before showing it to potential buyers. Some even suggest placing the animals in another home during this time.

That’s just what Dawn Pieke was told when her real estate agent tried to help her sell her house. The agent told Pieke to place her two large dogs in a kennel for two months. The advice was like a slap in the face to Pieke. She wasn’t about to remove two beloved family members from her home. Not only would it be hard on the dogs, it would be hard on her.

The attitude of that agent persuaded Pieke to take action to train what she is calling “pet-friendly Realtors.” Pieke, editor of “Pet Enthusiast” magazine, a publication circulated in Omaha and Lincoln, hosted a workshop in Omaha in March for real estate agents interested in learning about becoming pet-friendly Realtors. She plans to host another in Lincoln this summer.

Pet-friendly real estate agents are those trained to understand the needs of pet owners when selling and buying homes.

The former mortgage broker knows this is an issue of importance to a big share of the population. According to the 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 39 percent of American households have at least one dog and 33 percent have at least one cat.

When Pieck was looking for a new home, she told her Realtor about specific requirements she wanted to accommodate her dogs, such as a walk-out basement and a fenced backyard. Her agent, who was not fond of dogs, did not work to accommodate Pieck’s requirements.

As a result of her disappointing experience, Pieck is convinced that pet lovers should work with agents who are sensitive to the needs of pets and their owners.

Pieck does not, however, believe being sensitive to those needs mean abandoning common sense when it comes to showing homes to potential buyers. Pet owners listing their homes for sale must keep them extremely clean and free of pet odors. Pet toys, beds and litter boxes should be removed from the home during all showings. All dog droppings should be removed from the yard.

And by all means, remove the dogs and cats from the premises when potential buyers come to look. Sellers definitely don’t want barking dogs charging the door when prospective buyers enter.

Removing the animals for weeks or months on end until a home is sold, however, is far too drastic in Pieck’s mind and likely will not be a feasible option for people who consider their pets to be part of the family.

The best option for pet owners is work with a pet-friendly real estate agent, Pieck says. Pieck’s goal through her workshops is to teach Realtors innovative ways to work with home buyers and sellers while keeping their pets in mind.

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