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VOL. 35 | NO. 33 | Friday, August 19, 2011




Even purr-fect pets can chase away buyers

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Cats are a strange phenomenon. Many people loathe them, while others hold them dear to their hearts.

In neither case is the person able to choose their feelings toward the furry felines. Those that abhor them usually do so due to a predisposed physical condition that causes their bodies to react violently upon the inhalation of the mere odor or dandruff left by these mini tigers.

Those that find the genus alluring do so unconditionally and with great intensity. These lovers of cats have them litter in their houses. The term “litter” is the epitome of euphemism as litter was formerly a word for the papers and bottles that adorned the highways, rather than a toxic biohazard.

Unfortunately, in the sale of a home owned by a cat – make no mistake about it, the cat owns the home – the potential buyer could be of an allergic nature and unable to appreciate the intricacies of the architecture and interior design of a home if he or she is forced to don a gas mask during the tour.

Conversely, the human owner would be more likely to remove a spouse than the pet. The sellers are of the opinion that the buyer should appreciate the fact that the home has housed one of nature’s finest creatures.

On the contrary, buyers feel sellers are unsympathetic to their maladies, and it raises their own dander to deal with the pet’s risen dandruff, along with the pungency of the litter box. The reddening of the eyes is followed by a nasal drip that now requires a trip to the pharmacy to extinguish.

And then there are the canines – man’s best friend, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Pluto, Snoopy, Lady, the tramp, and their pals – who frolic about homes shedding and slobbering, scratching their backs on rugs and jumping or barking when unsuspecting homebuyers enter the house.

In the current residential real estate environment, most offices have enlisted appointment centers or showing services. When a home is listed for sale, the showing center is made aware of the showing instructions for that property. When a Realtor to calls to show the house, that Realtor is notified of the showing center of such things as how to gain entry to the home, how to disarm the alarm system, and any number of unusual circumstances that the real estate agents and their clients might encounter during the showing.

Most of these conditions relate to pets. There are remarks such as “There are two friendly dogs, Mutt and Jeff. Please give each of them a dog biscuit, which should be in the second cabinet to the left of the sink. If they are not there, try the refrigerator and give them some hamburger meat or a hot dog.”

They always describe the temperament of said cur as “friendly.” Often, they fail to mention that the animal is the size of a dinosaur and has the propensity to great the guest with a big hug, a slippery lick and bark so loud that pictures fall from the wall. This goes over big with children that are too short to ride most of the rides at Disneyworld.

The parents jump to protect their offspring and beg while the Realtor scurries to rescue his clients from the attack. The friendliness of the dog usually results in hastened visits. From that point on, when reflecting on houses the buyers have seen that day, it will be referred to as “the house with the dog,” followed by the rolling of the eyes.

But the cat lovers/haters do not have the real estate market cornered as for combative, uncompromising situations. By comparison, some stubborn smokers make cat and dog lovers seem as docile as Halle Berry in her non-Catwoman roles. It’s their house and they’ll smoke inside if they want.

Smokers feel they have been robbed of their liberties and their dignity by being forced onto the sidewalks to smoke by buckets of sand that, oddly enough, resemble a litter box. For non-smokers or, worse, recovering former smokers, the stench is far worse than the urine of a cat.

The non-smoker can detect evidence of smoke from 100 yards and is quick to point to the yellowed curtains and disparagingly sigh, “Think what it’s doing to their lungs. I’d have to paint the entire house to rid it of the smell.”

So smoke ’em if you got ’em, but as far away from your home as possible. And board the animals. Few buyers enjoy their own private circuses when house hunting.

Richard Courtney is a broker with Pilkerton Realtors and the author of Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles.

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