If you keep dogs, cats or other pets and regard them as family members, you're more likely to keep their needs in mind when purchasing a home. Some people even think of their pets as their “furever friends” or their “furbabies,” so their home buying preferences and decisions will be greatly influenced by them. After all, 68 percent of US households own a pet according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
Recent studies have also found that millennials’ decision to purchase their first home was influenced by their desire to have a better space or yard for a dog, or that they daydream about the day they’d be able to have their furry friend because owning a home can give them the freedom for that. So for all pet owners and pet-loving home buyers out there, here are five things to consider to ensure you and your pets can find the perfect home:
1. The local pet laws and pet owner requirements
Before purchasing a property, check the local pet laws and pet owner restrictions. You should familiarize yourself with breed-specific legislation within your state and city, as well as the limits on the number of animals allowed in a home. For an instance, dog lovers in the Los Angeles County can now own four dogs per household in an effort to give homeless dogs additional opportunities to find permanent homes. Some cities also require an owner to have a kennel license to keep several animals. There can also be restrictions on an HOA or a condo development, especially on the types and number of pets allowed. Many HOAs also enforce noise ordinances, which is important to note if you have a dog that barks a lot.
In some communities, owners also need to obey leash laws when taking your dog for a walk and clean up after your pet in public places. These restrictions are commonly in place for health and safety reasons.
2. Accessibility to pet services
Like parents who will greatly consider a good school district when choosing a neighborhood, home buyers with pets should also consider the property's accessibility to good veterinary clinics and local pet services so that they can easily tend to their pets’ health and needs.
If you’re buying a home in a new area, make sure to also ask your local real estate agent for referrals to where you can find a pet food store or a pet grooming salon. Talk to your potential neighbors and inquire about pet sitters and walkers nearby just in case you need their services if you go on a vacation.
3. Whether the neighborhood is pet-friendly and if there are pet-friendly amenities
It’s a big must-do for home buyers to drive around their chosen area at specific hours of the day to better familiarize themselves with the neighborhood and the local traffic. For pet owners, it wouldn’t hurt to see for yourself if the neighborhood is “pet-friendly” and if there are pet-friendly amenities nearby. Drive around to see if there are dog/pet parks, a dog trail or other green spaces for your little buddy’s daily walks. Ask about the existing pet parks around the area and be informed about the rules and regulations from the local parks and recreation department.
It’s also advisable for buyers to avoid choosing a home that is located right on a busy street or highway as car traffic is dangerous, especially for dogs or cats that like to roam. Pets can dart into the street anytime once they push open a screen door, or if a gate was left open.
4. The home’s layout, flooring and other features
It’s important to assess the home’s layout and features and make sure that you and your furry friends will be comfortable living in it. For home buyers who have big dogs, they may be inclined to buy a traditional single family home with more outdoor space or a bigger yard rather than settle into a typical townhouse. They may also find an outdoor or garden faucet as a great feature, especially for bathing.
If you have several pets, estimate whether there’s enough space inside the house as they are likely to run around and chase each other in circles. Check if the windows have window ledges where cats like to sleep. If you’re looking to buy a multilevel home, consider whether your dog can handle the stairs, as dogs can get joint problems particularly as they age. Likewise, assess if the house has pet-friendly floors. Carpeting is not recommended for dog or cat owners, as carpets can easily be clawed and get stained. Having an extra closet space where you can store your pet supplies and accessories will also be an advantage for you as a pet owner.
5. Yard and fencing
If the yard does not have a fence, it’s important for you to construct one where your pets can roam around and play safely. Review your HOA covenants and see if you are allowed to build a fence, as well as the restrictions on the size and materials that can be used. If your home already has an existing fence, inspect it to know if there are loose fence boards that need to be replaced, if it is gated, and if the fence is high enough so your dog can’t jump over it.