Americans love their pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, nearly 57 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. Pet ownership appears to be influencing home-buying decisions, too, with nearly 90 percent of pet-owning buyers said that their animals’ needs were important or very important in their home search process. A full 75 percent said they’d pass on their dream home if it didn’t meet their pets’ needs.
“It’s not terribly surprising that when pet owners are buying a home, their best friends get what they want,” says Danielle Hale. “If a home doesn’t meet the needs of their pets, those needs are non-negotiable for a lot of home buyers.”
In fact, many pet-owning home buyers credit their pets with influencing them to buy a home in the first place. A lack of pet-friendly rentals or exorbitant security deposits have forced many pet-owners to choose to buy rather than rent.
“For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; home ownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation,” says Dorinda Smith, president and CEO of SunTrust Mortgage.
Characteristics of Pet-Friendly Homes
Features that pet owners consider most important in a new home include:
Location is important to all buyers — for example, parents with kids look for good school districts, access to parks and family-friendly resources. Pet parents, however, are more interested in communities that welcome pets by having fenced-in yards, shade trees, nearby walking paths or dog parks and proximity to pet stores and veterinarians. Urban buyers have been known to limit their search to homes that are within walking distance of pet shops and pet amenities.
Carpets are unpopular with pet owners, not only for the fumes they give off, but also because they trap pet hair, are difficult to keep clean and wear out quickly. Today’s owners want easy-care floors that will make cleaning up after their pet a breeze. That means textured laminate, scratch-resistant flooring; no-slip tile; or vinyl, bamboo or cork flooring.
Washing Stations and Mudrooms
A space that can be dedicated to pet cleanup is hugely popular. Mudrooms, washing stations, main-level bathrooms and even laundry rooms with big tubs or walk-in showers make it easier to clean up pets after a muddy romp outdoors. Washington, D.C., pet owner Jessica Evans spent several thousand dollars to add a basement bathroom for her dog, Lucy. “I wanted her to have her own shower so that I wouldn’t have to clean mine after washing her in it,” Evans says.
Of course, dog owners rank a decent-sized yard higher on their list of must-haves than cat owners do. A moderately sized yard, particularly if it is fenced, gives dogs a safe spot to exercise and take care of their business without the owner having to take them out on a leash each time. Owners with dogs who bark a lot may want even larger lots to avoid upsetting the neighbors. Many pet owners are happy to have their own plot of land where they can better control what plants and substances the pet encounters.
Extra storage space, doggy doors and built-ins that provide a spot for a pet’s needs are a bonus to home buyers with pets. Pet owners tour a house thinking about where food and water dishes will go, where to place the cat’s litter pan, if there is room for a kennel in the house and if their pet can manage the stairs.
Speaking of stairs, buyers with older pets will be looking for homes that their pet can navigate on their own. That may mean single-story homes, ground-level entryways, fenced-in areas to ensure the pet doesn’t wander and easy-care flooring for cleaning up any messes or accidents.
Home Shopping With Pets in Mind
Pets are part of the family. So it makes sense to consider their needs too when you evaluate a home’s potential — and you’ll save yourself a lot of post-move frustration. By considering your pet’s needs early on in the home search process, you can narrow down your list of possibilities and ensure you find a home that works for you and your pet.
Liyya Hassanali is a Project Manager and Content Strategist for Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. She is a 15+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry, working closely with her clients to provide written content that meets their marketing goals and gets results.
Liyya is passionate about home design and décor and is a confessed HGTV and Pinterest addict. When not providing content writing services for her clients, she can be found browsing home décor sites or spending time with her family.