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Quandry - how to keep your horses/dogs/cats safe from prospective buyers?

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  • Quandry - how to keep your horses/dogs/cats safe from prospective buyers?

    So, we've put our place on the market. I have three dogs, four cats, and six horses on the property. My realtor is confident that I won't have to have prospective buyers sign releases to keep my liability to a minimum, but I'm not so sure. After 22 years in the horse business, I know how stupid people can be around animals. True, most folks who come here to look will be horse people, but some will not. And I know that no realtor or buyer is going to chase after my escape-artist cat when he rockets out the front door and disappears into the holly hedge outside it. I don't blame them - I wouldn't, either. But I'm terrified that my animals will suffer from the sales process.

    Any suggestions?
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.

  • #2
    I think your best bet would be to have the dogs and cats boarded and out of the house or confined to crates when prospective buyers come to see the property. They will only be a distraction for buyers. the horses should be fine


    • #3
      I would most definitely either kennel the dogs outside or in crates, kittie/s in crate. I once rescued two dogs who had been let loose by the real estate agent or the clients when they left the gate open on the outside fence. The woman started crying her eyes out (they were not home but arrived as I was going house to house) they were safe only because I saw them cross the busy road and they were friendly enough to cram themselves into my little truck.
      "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


      • #4
        I agree that the cats and dogs must be confined. When we showed our house, I put everyone in the car and drove around until they were done. Of course, that was a house, not a horse farm. But they need to be out of the house. And I would hope that they wouldn't open any gates, or stalls.


        • #5
          For sure all the indoor/house pets should be gone when buyers come to look. Drop them off at a kennel each day, or take them with you in the car (in crates, whatever) while you go wherever you go. Assuming your property is otherwise appealing and tidy, having pets in the house is distracting, and potentially dangerous, not only for the pets (who might get out, or accidentally locked in a closet), but also to the strangers, who might be phobic or might accidentally trigger a bite or scratch when trying to interact with them. Imagine the perfect buyer looking at your house, and then they hear the dogs barking endlessly or they hate cats, or they have to spend extra attention trying not to step on them or let them out, and that kills their interest in buying!

          The horses are behind fences or in stalls, so it's unlikely there will be any interaction with them - the buyers don't need to open gates and go into paddocks to see the property!


          • #6
            What do you do when people come to your place now? I'm not sure what the problem is we have people here all the time looking at horses for sale, people looking at the stallions to breed to, freinds that stop in etc. the cats and dogs just go about their life as always.
            Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


            • #7
              My husband and I are currently looking at horse properties. It's better if the horses are boarded elsewhere. Prospective buyers want to be able to walk into the stalls, go into the paddocks, etc, without worrying about someone else's horses.
              Dogs and cats should definitely be off the property as well. Board them or put them with a neighbor, but they should not be in the house during showings.
              Amateur rider, professional braider.
              Save a life, adopt a pet.


              • #8
                Yeah I guess I'm asking the same as county is. You know you *CAN* be home when realtor shows the house. I never removed my animals when my house was on the market. My dogs were in a kennel (sometimes I took them with if the showing was going to be lengthy). My cats all stayed in the house. I've even been home during a good many showings. Likewise when I went house hunting- many many homes the current owners were there. I actually PREFERED it because they can tell you little tidbits that the realtor forgets.

                Example my house in Millbury. We were 2 blocks from the town green. Very convenient as we could walk to just about anything. Also we had probably the best view of the fireworks in the summer and never had to struggle to pack up and find parking for the parades, we just walked to the corner. It was fabulous. Of course you ucan tell your realtor these details but they don't remember these little tidbits unless its detailed on the sheet. And you can't detail everything so...

                I looked at a house here in CA. The sellers sheet said zoned for up to 4 horses. The owners were home so I asked them a few questions (such as how old the roof was) well realtor didn't know that there WAS a zoning issue with the horses and that a roof contractor was replacing the roof the following week. I'm sure these 2 details would make many folks walk away.

                When they show the house- hang out in the barn


                • #9
                  I'd confine the kitties and doggies in crates or a stall or extra room in the barn, and I'd hang in the barn while prospective buyers are looking. Use the extra time in exile in the barn to clean your tack or repair those piddly little things that never get addressed...like the zipper on my favorite fleece jacket!... be industrious and invisible.

                  75% of visitors will just be tire-kickers, so your presence on the property at the time of their first visit won't be that big a deal. If they're serious, interested parties, they can come for a second visit, at which time you can arrange to be away, with the animals properly confined (with you, boarded, or in their barn space). The serious, interested ones are likely to be one step more reliable than the general non-horse-smart public.


                  • #10
                    Make sure that the listing (the insider notes for the other realtors) state what type of animal species are in the house. A friend's brother was looking at places and he is extremely allergic to cat dander-he was looking at former rentals, told the landlord/seller about his extreme allergy, and the landlord thought he was exaggerating or didn't believe about the allergy, and when he walked into the place he almost collapsed-apparently the former tenant had numerous cats and poor Bobby was sick for days and had a trip to the ER. Even though you are showing a farm property some people do need to know these things up front.

                    Can you confine the cat in something like a four-season room or something with see through doors so they can view the room but not enter? "Do Not Enter" and "Don't let cat out" signs don't work-some people seem to think it doesn't mean them. Can the horses be out in the pasture instead of in the barn so you can show the barn empty and avoid contact with outsiders? A lot will depend on the weather and the setup for your home and barn.

                    I was present for all showings for my previous home-it did limit when people could visit but if anyone had let my dog out I would have offed someone-I didn't interfere but I did say if you have any questions I'll be here and I left them alone otherwise (my realtor emphasized the answer only exactly what they ask thing too). I also am very AR about touching up the paint-realtors kept asking when I painted because the walls were flawless (I took down and packed all pictures and patched the holes, touched up the paint) because I was ready for the movers-I never had repainted (the house was only a year old when I moved in and I only lived there five years). And you need to store securely anything personal (fancy picture frames or silver) or expensive--Not only does it depersonalize it for showings but you don't want to have anything grow legs and leave (Yes it happens fairly often unfortunately-I know several people that lost jewelry, silver or fancy framed pictures during showings or open houses).

                    A good thing to do is a one page description of your property like a real estate flyer-it's amazing what you don't know until you think about your property objectively. I like to leave a list of the age of any appliance or permanent features (Heat/AC, roof) and what's staying-window treatments etc. Definitely note anything that you will be taking-preferably if you have something like the heirloom chandelier etc that you are taking you will put it's replacement up before showings. Especially note anything you will be leaving as a buyer's incentive (mower, lawn tractor etc) and I like to leave a list of the favorite contractors or workmen that I have found reliable for the next owner. And set a price that you will not go below-but remember that it's better to sell now than to wait for a buyer who may never come and offer what you want. It's better to sell fast for less than to pay a double mortgage for a long period of time. Realistic pricing and a great marketing plan is the secret to selling. When I'm looking I don't even consider places without a lot of pictures-it also eliminates some of the tire kickers and people who just look at houses for fun. This state (Alabama) has no disclosure so if I ever sell I would definitely not be here for showings, because unlike the previous a$$*#($@ who sold me the place I would have to tell them the owner across the street is a drug dealing b#*$* and her boyfriend is in jail again, and the local DA plea-bargains everything out and they will always live there (I have to hope for a rival to take care of them I guess-not nice but I have zero sympathy for people who push drugs to kids). There are some situations that definitely make it better that you not be present for showings-also you can hear some hideous remarks from potential buyers who don't care that you are sitting right there. You need to separate your self from your property, after all it is no longer yours after you sell so if they decide to bulldoze the house to build a mcmansion there's really nothing you can do about it.

                    Country-of course you can take them with you-didn't you see City Slickers? Great publicity too.
                    Last edited by JanM; Jan. 17, 2009, 02:42 PM.
                    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                    • #11
                      I'm trying to picture trying to board/hide/move over 100 animals when the day comes I put this place up for sale. It ain't happening.
                      Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


                      • #12
                        One thing that's often forgotten: Remove all prescription drugs from cabinets, counters and bathroom for each showing. Drop them in your purse and take them with you or put them in something that locks. Especially do this for open houses...there are quite a few folks who tour open houses just to steal prescription drugs.
                        I'd go with crating the cats, removing the dogs. Clean the litterbox right before each showing. Vacuum and use Febreeze air spray to remove as much pet smells as possible. Horses out if possible, but they can stay in if the weather is bad. Just make a sign to hang in the barn for people to please stay out of stalls when the horses are in and please no feeding, petting or giving treats. If the horses have been in all day due to weather and there's a showing, pick those stalls before the showing. Even horse people can be turned off by stinky barns, they'll wonder what type of flooring is in the stalls and if that's going to need to be replaced if it's urine soaked. Decobweb the barn. Repair any hanging fence boards or drooping tape/wire.
                        In the house concentrate mostly on kitchen and bathrooms. Those make or break home sales. Declutter counters, vanities and call cabinets and closets. The more room/counter space visible the better. Kitchens and baths sparkling clean. Bleach or regrout the tub/shower, no showing mold or dark spots.
                        Remember when your house is on the market it's no longer just your home. It's a product for sale and it needs to be presented in the best possible light to buyers. Yes, it's a PITA to have a house for sale and have showings. But it's also a 6 figure sale item and shouldn't be presented badly due to inconvenience purposes.
                        I would vacate the house...homes that the owners stay in for showings take on average 3x longer to sell and sell on average for 5-10% less. Homeowners are notorious for giving too many "tidbits" of info that the buyer's Realtor will know how to use against them during negotiations. Buyers don't need the skinny on every little bit of info on the first showing, they can get more info on the second showing. As a homeowner it's great to make your own presentation packet that has color photos of the property in different seasons and bullet points on fun extras such as "walk to park" or "right on the trails" or "great block parties in summer!" A present homeowner may be asked questions by buyers that can ruin a sale and it looks bad if the homeowner refuses to answer a pointed question or answers is badly and if the owner lies/fibs a bit over the answer they can be sued at a later time. Leave the showings to the Realtors...they know what they're doing.
                        You jump in the saddle,
                        Hold onto the bridle!
                        Jump in the line!


                        • #13
                          This is a sick but funny story - DH and DD got some rabbits and kept them caged in the back of the house. Well, one of the bunnies was a "jumper", she would leap up and do back flips in the cage. Realtor called and they bailed out of the house for a showing. When they got back, the jumper had evidently done a back flip and broken her neck while they were gone. So to this day DH wonders if the potential buyers didn't freak out because there was a dead bunny in the cage, or worse yet watch the bunny when it killed itself. Needless to say they gave the bunnies to a good friend soon afterwards.
                          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                          Incredible Invisible


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ESG View Post
                            So, we've put our place on the market. I have three dogs, four cats, and six horses on the property. My realtor is confident that I won't have to have prospective buyers sign releases to keep my liability to a minimum, but I'm not so sure. After 22 years in the horse business, I know how stupid people can be around animals. True, most folks who come here to look will be horse people, but some will not. And I know that no realtor or buyer is going to chase after my escape-artist cat when he rockets out the front door and disappears into the holly hedge outside it. I don't blame them - I wouldn't, either. But I'm terrified that my animals will suffer from the sales process.

                            Any suggestions?
                            We had the same problem when our house was for sale last year. At the time we had 5 cats and 1 dog. Cats were all house cats and I was terrified at the thought of someone escaping.

                            Fortunately, we have a den with French doors and I was able to put the cats in there with a large note on the door - not to open "House Cats". Prospective buyers still could look inside, just not enter.

                            I even went so far to bungee the door handles together.. Yes, I'm paranoid about my cats.

                            We also didn't allow a Lock Box to be used for Realtors to come and go. We took the dog immediately before a showing and left the main door unlocked. Also came home right after the showing.

                            If you don't have a den like we do, I'd definitely crate them just long enough for the prospective buyers to come look.
                            MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                            • #15
                              MistyBlue, you are SO right regarding prescription drugs!!!

                              When we had the house on the market last summer, some SOB stole
                              one of my *good* prescription drugs that I use for anxiety.

                              My agent apologized profusely for not keeping the couple together, but apparently while she was showing the wife the bathroom, the husband wandered off into the kitchen. Obviously he knew what he was looking for, because that is the only drug bottle he took.

                              On top of that, the Insurance would not pay to have it refilled again..grrr

                              So, if you see a white Honda Ridgeline in town, that is them!!!
                              MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                              • #16
                                I house/pet-sat for a friend who's house was on the market. The instructions I was left with were that the realtor would call me (at least a half hour) prior to any showing. When I got the call, all I had to do was to put the pups in their crates in the garage, with Kongs that had been filled with lowfat cottage cheese and kibble and then frozen (this was standard procedure for these dogs when you crated them anyhow, so I didn't have to scramble to fill Kongs or anything) and then head out. The realtor would then give me a call with the "all clear" when they were done.
                                We only had one showing while I was at the house, but everything went smoothly, because the realtor knew about the dogs (and that I would need time to put them up) and the dogs were OK with spending time in their crates (especially since they got good treats for it). It definitely could have been tougher if there were cats involved, though. And with horses? I'd just hope that people understood that it your place is a WORKING farm - and that the day to day business of the farm can't come to a crashing halt, just because they wanted to see it...


                                • #17
                                  Most realtors don't want the owners there, because they blab too many details and spoil the sale! When we showed our house the realtor also came over before hand and pointed out all the things to remove so it would look less cluttered & would be depersonalized. We just boxed stuff up and put it under the bed.

                                  Besides, regarding the pets - ask the realtor what she/he prefers - they know the type of clientele they are showing the house too, and what kills a sale, and they want your house to sell quickly, so it's useful to do what they say!


                                  • #18
                                    I'd crate or remove the dogs for showings and crate the cats for their own protection.

                                    When I sold my house the Realtors were great and said the dog was fine. They showed the house and let him into the fenced yard while they were inside.

                                    When he was let back in, somehow the tip of his tail got caught in the door and nobody noticed. I came home and there was blood all over the kitchen in every direction. Looked like someone had been murdered. He had wagged his very long tail and shot blood from floor to ceiling and all the walls.

                                    He was fine and his tail had long since stopped bleeding, but that phone conversation trying to figure out who had been murdered in my kitchen was sort of funny, in a not so funny kind of way.

                                    Took forever to clean it all up too


                                    • #19
                                      I know we (I) took the dogs with me during showings. As for horses, I can say a non-horise co-worker was traumatized and could not imagine how myself and another co-worker could love horses after while looking at acreages saw one place with horses plastered with theses signs HORSES KICK and BITE DO NOT ENTER or PET

                                      I would recommend locking your gates. I can't tell you how many times our neighbors have returend home to loose horses - field gates open Most of their horses are now gone, but this summer was very frustrating - thank goodness they have perimeter fencing.
                                      Epona Farm
                                      Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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                                      • #20
                                        I had to share our house BUYING experience..
                                        We were touring our 50 acre farmette's house, when our realtor opened the door to a PIGEON roosting ON the toilet. She SCREAMED as it burbled a coo at her and flapped its wings.. my husband noticed the window and asked if it was open just as the owner called.. .."don't let him out he's my pet."
                                        He had FREE range of the house, and judging by the poo mountain by the toilet .....for quite sometime.
                                        There was a chicken in the garage, a second pigeon in the laundry room, and a snapping turtle by the front door.
                                        I bet you can imagine the state of cleanliness it was in... the neighbors were *anxious* to meet the *crazy* family that bought the place

                                        On the flip side we were selling our place at same time, and I had a mare foal the very moment a group showed up to view the house .. I stayed to police them around the new mom and foal, but otherwise we had no issues with potential buyers coming to view the house...
                                        "Sport N Curls"
                                        Sport Horse type Curlies and Sport Ponies with the mind, looks and athletic ability to compete in a variety of disciplines.