By Susan C.
Are you planning to sell your home this year? It’s a great time to do so! Watch any television program geared toward helping people sell their homes, and you’ll learn that one of the first pieces of advice realtors give is “Relocate the pets!” It isn’t always practical to move the pets out for open houses and showings, and if you have numerous birds, it may be close to impossible.
This is the one time you can look at your birds as part of the décor. Use them to enhance the ambience of your home. I’ve sold three homes with my birds in residence. The first house was in New York and quite small, so I boarded my four Amazon parrots with a friend during the open house. The macaw, Senegal parrots and budgies remained in the house-for-sale and didn’t seem to detract from the showing. Because the ‘green gang’ and their cages were absent, the space looked larger, and the house was peaceful and quiet.
My parrots seemed to add to the appeal of my house in Florida. It was a piling house surrounded by tropical foliage on a barrier island, and the birds fit right in. Several of them were on the screened porch, and the Amazons and macaw were indoors. Large windows and sliding glass doors brought the outside in, and the birds seemed to be a natural part of the décor. Cages and surrounding areas were kept scrupulously clean so that the house could be shown on 30 minutes notice. Consider marketing your home your new full-time job. Estimate how long it will take to get your house ready for impromptu showings, and let your realtor know how much lead time you’ll require.
Buyers are waiting for great deals even in a hot market and inventory may be low, but you can compete. The first impression is the lasting impression. What will the buyer see first? A jumble of cages, bird food and play stands in the living room won’t pass muster, especially if the potential buyer isn’t a ‘bird person’. Before you even call a Realtor®, convert your bird room back into a dining room or den. Remove the swings and perches hanging from the ceiling and stow the assortment of parrot paraphernalia that’s cluttering your bookshelves. Shampoo or replace carpeting. Green stains will not go over well.
A Licensed Sales Agent and Certified Buyer Representative (LSA/CBR) with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Ronkonkoma, NY agreed. “They’re our pets and we love them, but it doesn’t mean the potential buyer does. Cleanliness is key to everything, right alongside de-cluttering. Put all pet food and accessories away.”
A Realtor® friend on Sanibel Island, FL, concurred. “With any animal, I ask the seller to make the pet area as clean as possible. You don't want people walking over bird seed or smelling pet odors. One advantage of birds over cats and dogs is that there’s virtually no odor.
“In my experience, most people like birds, but some might be put off by a very loud bird. In that case, I might move the cage to the smallest bedroom, or the den -- to a room that isn't the focal point of the home,” she continued. “I wouldn't want a home that is perfect in every way to be remembered as the ‘house with that awful bird in it’! If the sellers are motivated, they should do whatever they can to minimize the negative impact of their animals. They know how their pets react to strangers coming into the room. For instance, covering the cage might keep a loud bird quiet.”
Once your house is in contract, you can begin looking for your new home. Are you looking at a development or a condo? Review the rules regarding noise and pets. Are you planning an outdoor aviary? Check the zoning regulations. Do you want cathedral ceilings so your macaw will have plenty of headroom? A roll-in shower for bird cages? A sunporch for your cockatiels? Happy house hunting!
Biting and Other Problems
If you have aggressive birds, post signs in front of cages warning people away. Realtors® suggest keeping it friendly with something like, “We know we’re cute, but please don’t touch!”
Tell your agent not to allow people to poke at the birds or remain in the house to supervise if you feel it’s necessary. “It’s better to be absent during showings,” according to Papaemanuel, “because it makes it easier for potential buyers to imagine the home as their own. If you remain in the home, tend to the pets but leave all the talking to the agent. Don’t hover. Stay out of the way. On the plus side, there may be some questions that need answering and you can do so on the spot.”
My Florida friend addressed another situation that occurs quite frequently. “When another realtor shows one of my listings and there are animals present, I warn them about what to expect. I instruct the realtor to control the client. I tell them not to approach the cage and not to stick their fingers in the cage. If I have any misgivings, I’ll accompany them to the showing.” (It should be noted that she sells homes on an island where it is not unusual to encounter 6-foot iguanas on a porch or pet peacocks in the yard!)
Some people are superstitious about birds indoors. Others may be fearful. Ask your Realtor® to advise potential clients that you have pet birds prior to a showing, and if necessary, arrange to temporarily relocate the feathered members of your family.
“During an open house, you never know who’s coming through, so you can’t forewarn potential buyers that birds are present. Keep the attention off the birds, even if you need to cover them during an open house. Keep the focus on the house.
In general, people perceive exotic birds as valuable. Don’t include your birds in virtual tour or online photos, especially if the address of your home is included in the listing. Using a real estate agent makes it more likely that prospects will be screened to some degree.
Don’t mention pending trips, work schedules or other away-from-home activities in front of prospective buyers. Remove daily calendars and phone numbers from sight. If a buyer asks you about availability for a future showing, say you’ll get back to the sales agent with the information. You never know who’s walking into your house. For added security, work with certified buyer’s agent. That agent is working for the buyer, much like a personal shopper and the buyer is going to be screened and pre-approved.”
Bird owner’s Top Ten Selling Tips
De-clutter. Pack non-essential items and stack boxes neatly in the garage or other non-living area. If necessary, rent a storage unit. Store bird carriers, travel cages, play stands and other avian ‘furniture’ out of sight. Potential buyers will open cabinet doors and drawers. Make sure bird food is neatly organized in a designated space.
De-personalize: Remove family photos and personal items from view. Yes, you can leave that gorgeous macaw portrait over the fireplace but remove and store knick-knacks and other decorative avian items. Take your beloved “Beware of Attack Parrot” sign down and pack it away for you next home.
Deodorize. Healthy birds and clean cages are not odiferous. Make sure cages are pristine. Wash floors, shampoo the rugs, launder draperies and bedding and don’t smoke indoors. One of the first things prospective buyers notice is how the house smells. Simmer a little potpourri on the stove prior to a showing and open the windows for fresh air.
Dust! Be aware that people with allergies may look at your home. Mist your birds daily to reduce dander. Change cage tray paper just prior to a showing. Use an electronic air filter to further reduce airborne allergens. Change or wash air conditioner filters frequently, and vacuum daily. When possible, open windows during showings.
Advertise in bird related publications and on avian websites. What makes your home ideal for your birds may attract a buyer with birds. My current home has a 28-foot conservatory style room that’s perfect for birds and it’s right up the hill from a top-notch bird store!
Are your birds nervous around strangers? Cover the cages or advise people not to approach them. Take your bird out for a ride during showings or relocate your pet to a friend’s house.
Noisy birds? Relocate to a friend’s or cover the cages. Play soft background music to soothe the tropical soul.
Do you have an unused area to relocate birds, such as finished basement, enclosed porch or playroom? Designate that area as a temporary bird room.
Move cage to a large room or area so it doesn’t dominate the room. Buy some large, inexpensive potted palms at Home Depot and place them strategically near cages for a tropical look.
Is your bird’s cage beginning to look shabby? This is the ideal time to purchase a new one. Think of it as a ‘home improvement’ that will help sell your house!