Business Monday

Broker’s view: Sellers, get pets, odors — and yourselves — out of the house when showing


Here in South Florida, we certainly get plenty of exotic animal news! Just in the past few months, our region made global headlines and social media “shares” once again when a wild bobcat dragged a live shark straight from the ocean in Vero Beach. And, of course, those famous Burmese python vs. Florida alligator clashes in the Everglades are already the stuff of legend.

Obviously, people enjoy their exotic pets here in paradise, and that’s all well and good. But when the time comes to sell your South Florida home, you need to purge it of all pets, unpleasant odors — and yourselves — before showing it to potential buyers. As an experienced Miami Realtor, I find myself dealing with these negative recurring issues far too often when preparing to market a property.

Not every buyer is pet-friendly. Pets are distracting, and some buyers are wary of them due to allergies or fear (especially when it comes to exotic pets). Temperamental or exotic pets are best kept out of sight or at least caged when the property is being shown. This will avoid any mishaps or distractions. Before showings, ensure that pet toys are put away or stored neatly in a box; preferably off the floor. If your pet has damaged baseboards, furniture, staircases or other areas of the home, replace or repair the damaged items before listing the property. The buyer’s idea of repair costs tends to be much more than the actual costs, and they could ask for thousands of dollars in concessions from the sales price for the repairs. Holes in the yard caused by pets should also be filled. In this instance, a little mulch or sod goes a long way for a nicer visual appeal.

Unpleasant odors of any kind present major challenges in getting the best price for your home. A 2013 Pfizer survey of Ontario real-estate agents backs this up empirically. Almost half (44 percent) said that smoking in the home affects resale value, and of these, 32 percent said it may lower the home value by 10 percent to 19 percent, and a further 32 percent said it may lower the home value by 20 percent to 29 percent! The survey results also indicate that smoking may actually deter prospective buyers. An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of respondents agreed that it is more difficult to sell a home where owners have smoked; more than half (56 percent) said that most buyers are less likely to buy a home where people have smoked; and 27 percent went further and said that most buyers are simply unwilling to buy a home where people have smoked.

Nicotine and smoke stick to interior walls, screens, curtains, air conditioning ducts, linens, pillows, rugs and tablecloths. You can minimize the effect by frequently opening all windows to air out the house and, of course by cleaning, de-cluttering and deodorizing it. Be aware that bacteria lives and grows in damp places, so also clean the closets, cabinets, soiled carpeting, drapes, window screens and fabrics. If the walls have not been painted in a long time, I would recommend doing so, after first cleaning them with soap and water to remove any nicotine. (Distilled white vinegar is also outstanding for cleaning many types of surfaces.) Air-conditioning filters should be changed regularly. Finally, spray the rooms with a deodorizing aerosol for a fresh and clean scent.

I certainly understand the temptation to be home when buyers come for showings, but most prefer that the seller not be present when viewing a property. If it is not possible for you to leave the home, it is best to stay out of sight or in an area that will be less important to the buyers, such as the patio or family room. A buyer can tend to feel like an intruder (or at best, a guest) when the owner is present. This inhibits the prospect from envisioning themselves as the owner, which is the whole point of the showing. Buyers who are free to inspect the size of the closets or look inside cabinets are visualizing how their things will fit in the home. Feeling free to do these things increases that buyer’s percentage of making an offer on the property.

Need another reason to “vacate the premises?” Buyers often feel awkward and uncomfortable commenting on the home or asking questions of their Realtor when the seller is present. Statistics show that professional Realtors can show the home much better than the seller. The Realtor is prepared and unbiased, and can demonstrate the benefits and features that are most important to buyers.

Selling a South Florida home is competitive enough without putting yourself at such avoidable disadvantages. In this real-estate wilderness, be the well-fed bobcat — not the delicious shark.

Lourdes Dominguez is a residential real-estate agent with RE/MAX Advance Realty. She can be reached at 305-216-9779 or

Realtors may submit columns for Broker’s View of 700 words to questions, email This column is primarily for brokers of residential real estate, but from time to time, we will publish columns about commercial real estate.

Dollars and scents

Researchers studied how certain aromas affected spending at a home-décor store in Switzerland. Three scent patterns were used: orange (simple); orange-basil-green tea blend (complex); and no scent.

Scents and average amount spent:

▪ Orange: $62.44.

▪ Orange-basil-green tea: $47.37.

▪ No scent: $50.50.

Source: The Power of Simplicity: Processing Fluency and the Effects of Olfactory Cues on Retail Sales in the March Journal of Retailing.