By Sherry Warner
In a recent TV commercial, a SWAT team invades a residential home hoping to arrest cartel members but instead find an unsuspecting couple who didn’t use a realtor to buy their home. Nothing this dramatic is likely to happen but if you are buying or selling a home, whether in the city or country, it pays to hire a professional real estate agent.
Debbie Mitzner has been a realtor for 30 years, and is well versed in the ins and outs of buying and selling both residential and country residential homes. With that much experience under her belt, it’s not surprising that 90 per cent of her business comes from referrals and repeat customers.
Buying and selling your home is very stressful and having pets and/or horses adds a whole other dimension to the process. That’s where Debbie can help. She grew up in the town of Lyalta, just east of Calgary and always had animals. She understands the country residential market well and says this makes up about half of her business.
Whatever community you consider calling home, Debbie knows what amenities are available such as schools, shopping, parks and playgrounds as well as pet-related services including pet supply stores, groomers, vets, training facilities, daycares, pet sitters and kennels. “We all work closely together because I have pets and I see these people all the time,” she says.
When buying a residential country property, it’s Debbie’s job to know the rules and regulations with respect to what’s allowed on the property such as the number of animals and the size of outbuildings.
Debbie has her Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation so she can help seniors and their families navigate through the maze of financial, legal and emotional issues that often accompany the sale of a home. “Seniors are hard to move — it might be the kids’ choice — so I take them through the process, and find out whether it’s better to age in place or move,” says Debbie and adds: “A lot of seniors will stay home until they lose their pet — they will not relocate unless they can relocate with their pet.”
She also has her Green designation which means she has been trained in areas such as green design, sustainable communities and smart growth, energy efficiency aspects of homes such as heating, electrical, water, waste etc. and energy efficiency ratings and programs.
Selling a home with pets can be tricky, says Debbie, but if you do a little homework before putting it on the market, it will ensure your home shows well and increases your chances of selling it. “There is a percentage of the public who look for no smoke, no pet homes,” she says, and you don’t want to discourage them from viewing your home.
It’s best to take your pets out of the house before a showing and put away all pet-related items such as food dishes, pet beds, toys, cat trees, litter boxes and anything with pet hair on it. “Sometimes pets are disruptive and it gives your realtor the opportunity to show the home properly,” says Debbie.
In general, de-clutter and make sure everything is in good repair and clean, especially carpets. If you have a cat, remove anything that is scratched up such as baseboards and drywall. “You need to fix these things otherwise the home looks damaged,” she adds.
Buying a property when you have pets is a matter of personal preference. For most people access to green space, walking paths and off-leash parks is important as is a fenced yard. Some other things many of Debbie’s clients look for are sturdy flooring such as engineered laminent that can stand up to pet traffic, a walk-in shower with a removable shower head so you can wash the dog, lower windows so pets can look outside and dog runs, especially if you are purchasing a residential country home.