|  Real estate

Hey, There’s A Pet In My Listing Photo

If television advertising has taught us anything it’s that society loves an animal pitchman. From chatty geckos selling discount insurance to friendly tigers pushing flakes that are frosted, we’re more likely to buy something if sold by a four-legged creature. So it made us wonder if this is the reason behind the sudden increase in pets appearing in real estate listing photos?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the pet’s inclusion was intentional or accidental. Occasionally there’s just a cat snoozing on the sofa or a dog standing at the gate, but other times it’s seems far more intentional. For instance, consider the image below of the cat leaping onto the table. It seems staged, unless the timing of the shot coincided with the cat falling from the ceiling vent.

Sometimes, the animal blends in so well you hardly see it. The cocker spaniel below isn’t immediately noticeable because it matches the chair it’s sitting in, so perhaps the photographer didn’t even see the regal pooch. The pet did catch the attention of the real estate news site Curbed Seattle, which openly speculated the dog might just be ghost.


The bulldog below adds a homey touch to its Washington, DC row house. Its adorable, wrinkly face caught the attention of Curbed DC editor Amy Rose Dobson, who featured the listing in an article and declared the use of the dog to be, “A perfectly acceptable way to try to sell a house.” The property sold in just weeks.

However, featuring cute critters in a real estate listing isn’t necessarily something all house hunters appreciate. Those with allergies to pets probably don’t light up when they see the family cat shedding hair on the kitchen table, even if it’s an adorable orange tabby.

Animals in a listing photo aren’t always the adorable living kind. Sometimes those critters are dead as doornail, mounted on a wall, or skinned and spread out on the floor. Taxidermy of all kinds frequently appear in real estate listings. While hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts may find this appealing, taxidermy can deter many animal lovers from considering the property. Homes filled with taxidermy have been featured in various real estate articles about how to kill a real estate listing.

Occasionally, the animal featured in a listing photo is simply a stuffed animal, usually a large teddy bear in a child’s room. However, sometimes a stuffed animal can be a real attention grabber, like when it’s a white bengal tiger lounging on a chair in the living room. Tigers are known for their ability to blend into the foliage, but it’s still impressive how this tiger is able to so perfectly match the furniture.

While the occasional animal appearance can add a little life to a listing photo, they can also perplex potential home buyers. The living room in the photo below is kind of lost amidst the three-way stare down between the cat painting, the ceramic rottweiler, and the parrot. Then again, it definitely makes the home memorable.

So should home sellers with a photogenic cat or dog include their pet in their home’s photos. Absolutely, and if you don’t have a pet there are plenty available for adoption because a house isn’t really a home without a pet. Remember to be choosy with your photographs though; there’s a thin line between an image that increases a home’s chance of a sale, and one that could get it declared a listing fail.


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  • Kathi Presutti

    As a home stager, I would never recommend that a pet appear in a listing photo, or for that matter, in a house during a showing. Cats on counters or tables are unsanitary, and many home buyers are well aware of the kind of damage a pet can do to a home, especially if they themselves have pets.

  • http://twitter.com/JPhilipFaranda J. Philip Faranda

    Posting a photo with a pet is careless and inadvisable. There is no winning; you either break even or you lose when someone is put off or avoids the house because of allergies/pet cooties. 

  • Cindy

    Back in 2008 I wrote a post on my blog about photos of pets in picture.  My post was prompted by an MLS photo with 4 dogs in it.  It would be nice to know if there is a pet in the house as I’ve had clients with severe allergies so a mention is good but a photo of the pet may not be the best idea.  

  • Susan Isaacs, Realtor

    I agree with Kathi, as a Realtor I try to avoid even the hint of a pet in a home. Some buyers are allergic, and even those who are pet owners know that previous pet “stains” can attract new, unwanted behavior from their pet on move-in. That said, I did include a pet in a recent listing photo. While the home was being photographed, this cat (who was otherwise invisible) kept popping up like “Where’s Waldo?” in every single photo. He was like a Real Housewife near a red carpet. Unstoppable!  Sometimes you just have to go with it….

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