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Donít let the cat out

Posted by Rona Fischman June 28, 2012 02:04 PM

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It is not uncommon for me to receive showing instructions that include ďdo not let the cat out.Ē Most of the time, I donít see the cat; itís under some bed someplace. Occasionally, the cat is leisurely lying on a bed or sofa awaiting adoration. Rarely, but sometimes, it is yowling in a crate. (It is more common to have dogs barking in a crate.)

Last week, I showed a condo with a particularly friendly cat. Keeping him in was a chore, since he was right at the door trying to get our attention. To add to the problem, my client is afraid of cats. Having the cat jumping up on the furniture to get petted was not at all appreciated by her. She was startled coming in a room a couple of times, as he playfully pounced around the corner. This was clearly friendly behavior, and I am sure his owners find him charming. But for cat-averse people, this behavior seems aggressive.

He distracted from the showing and may have cost the seller a sale. I spent a lot of time playing with the cat so heíd leave my client alone. At some point, she was too uncomfortable to really see the place.

The same thing will happen with a dog barking in a crate, or worse, a little dog jumping on a buyer. It is distracting to most people and terrifying to those who are uncomfortable around cats or dogs.

One of my clients has a lovely little dog named Rocky. Heís a great guy, but heís a bit on the hyper side. When they traded-up, they sold their condo. One of the selling points of the agent they hired is that she lived nearby and Rocky liked her. She took Rocky to her yard for every showing. ďI remember how much I was distracted by little dogs barking and jumping when we were house hunting. I am not going to do that to anyone else. Rocky goes,Ē explained my buyer. The agent they didnít hire had no plan for Rocky. He found Rocky friendly and not a threat to house hunters; he thought Rocky could stay. This was that agentís downfall.

There are a lot of questions I have about whether it is the duty of an agent to cat-sit or dog-sit in order to get a showing done. Should a listing agent take a dog to her back yard? Should I have been obligated to play with a cat to get a showing done? What do you think?

Today, pets and house hunting. What is your opinion about what to do with pets during house showing appointments and open houses?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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