Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Include Your Pet in Your Home’s Listing Photos

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Consider your pet a member of your family? You’re not alone: According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 68% of U.S. households own a pet. But if you’re selling your home, your favorite part of coming home could be preventing you from getting it off the market as quickly as possible. Though it might seem silly, just seeing your friendly Fido in the listing might be a huge-turn off for some buyers. “As you prep your home to sell, your mission is to attract the widest pool of qualified buyers,” says realtor Dana Bull. “While some of your prospects may be pet people, I can guarantee that a good number of them are not.” And while you might be aghast that someone might not love your dog as much as you do, here’s what some potential buyers might actually be thinking when they see Fido in your listing photos.

Allergies: You might be using them as an excuse to get out of dinner, but to some people, allergies are real, y’all—like need-an-inhaler-for-days real. And people who are allergic to animals seem to have a real Spidey-sense about them whenever they walk into a room. (“Is there a cat here? I need to leave!”) And the last thing you want to do is prevent them from coming to see your property says Thais Collins, a buying specialist with Keller Williams Realty.

Bad smells: Even if a potential buyer isn’t allergic, the sight of your pup might bring back some unpleasant scent memories. While you may think your dog smells like a freshly-washed angel, folks who don’t like animals might not be so generous (you also might be nose blind to the smells!) To sensitive smellers, just seeing a pet in your listing might lead to them obsessing over the potential odors and skipping your open house.

Stains and damage: Though you’ve probably cleaned or even replaced the carpet after your dog had a very rare accident, your potential buyer doesn’t know this and will assume the worst. Just seeing your pet could bring up questions of cleanliness, damaged wood floors or tattered carpets, and hidden pee stains, says Collins.

Not convinced to leave your best friend out of the listing? In very rare cases, your pet could be a positive. For example, if you’re selling a unit in one of the only pet-friendly condo complexes in town, having your special friend in the photo might amplify this selling point. However, you still need to be thoughtful with what you display in your photos. “At a high level, you want to conceal the ugly side of pet ownership and showcase the positive,” says Bull. “A trendy and well-placed dog bed, a sleekly displayed treat container or a clean and sparkly leash can make an underlying statement without being overt.” However, stay away from just throwing in an ordinary bone or cat bowl. If it’s not aesthetically pleasing, it can come off as clutter, which is a turn-off to potential buyers, both with and without pets.