I knew it was only a matter of time before this happened. After all, Realtors have been stealing tips from ad pros for years to make homes look glorious in photographs to entice buyers. What have I been telling you for years — it’s all about the photos, right? Now we hear that ”placement pets“, as they are known in the advertising world, are increasingly showing up in home listing photos. The point is to convey a subliminal message to would-be buyers, and make them feel as warm and fuzzy about the house as one of my fluffy Golden Retrievers. Let’s face it, pets have become status symbols and are increasingly the “children” of empty nesters and gay couples. A hunting dog looks great snuggled on a hearth; Vizsla’s or Standard Poodles are chick magnets, so why wouldn’t they lure in buyers? You may have noticed that my furry child, Bree, is proudly displayed on this blog.
(Now she wants a blog of her own!)
Then there was this photo of former representative Anthony Weiner’s apartment — with a “pussy cat” on the sill. Talk about subliminal!
It started in — you guessed it — New York City. According to my friend Ann Brenoff at AOL Real Estate, Tristan H. Harper, senior vice president of New York’s Prudential Douglas Elliman agency, uses designer dogs to sell property. In fact, he sold an East 63rd Street penthouse for a record $3.75 million in 2008 after this photo (above, terrace) of Rocko the Shih Tzu was published everywhere.
Then a Montecito, Calif., agent posed a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on the rug of her $4,595,000 listing, hoping to inspire buyers. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are ritzy dogs; they were bred by English royalty and match an uppity British house. I know all about these dogs because I have two Cavalier grand-pups, and Polly has the lineage of a Windsor. Huh!
So I asked several agents and home stagers if anyone is doing this in Dallas? I know Tucker, Dave Perry-Miller’s precious Portuguese Water Dog (and Bree’s beau) participates in the actual selling process: his job is to fetch contracts, full-price only. Might Dave be adding Tucker to a few select home photos?
No way, say local home stagers. Holly Kangas Bellomy says when she consults with homeowners who are selling their homes she has them remove evidence of pets (bowls, beds) as well as the pets.
“I don’t like to see the pets in the photos either because some buyers have pet allergies and may not want to consider a home that has had pets living in it,” she says. “They may wonder about pet messes, odors, and anything that has been destroyed.”
Realtor Kerry Paradise Slaughter agrees: when she has a listing with dogs, she works to minimize the dog factor, like smell and dog hair. (Note: GoldenDoodles do not shed!)
“I do not think a dog photo adds warmth to the listing photos,” she says.
Shelle Carrig, who works with Becky Frey, says “for those of us that love dogs, we know that they are like children. Neither make good staging props for sales photos. We want buyers to recognize the features of the room, not the family pup.”
Karen Eubank of Eubank Staging says professional home stagers would never advise using an animal as a staging prop.
“There are far too many potential buyers with allergies. Pets shed, they smell, there are buyers that are afraid of animals,” she says. “It’s not a good idea.”
Well, gosh, not even for the photos? Here I was thinking of becoming Bree and Tucker’s agent.
“I took a listing that had fuzzy warm dog photos in it and re-listed it without the dog and sold it quick,” says Charles Nuber.
Still not convinced, you?