Curb appeal and proximity to good schools used to top the list for house hunters. But things have changed as a newer generation takes control of the housing market. For many millennials who are first-time home buyers, the must-have priorities now include fenced-in yards, built-in cat-climbing trees and close proximity to dog parks.
Millennials and Pets
Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1997, are putting off marriage and children until a bit later in life than previous generations. What they’re not delaying, however, is pet ownership. As many as 73 percent of millennials currently own pets, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Many in this generation consider their pets “starter children.” In fact, 44 percent of millennials consider their pets (or “fur babies”) as practice for having children, according to a recent study from the advertising agency Gale.
And pet parenting is something they take very seriously, especially when it comes to home ownership. Of those millennials who closed on a home in 2018, 89 percent have pets, according to a study by realtor.com. And many put their pets’ needs above their own: 75 percent would forgo their dream home if it didn’t meet their pets’ needs.
Dog ownership also ranked above marriage and children as a reason to purchase a first home, according to a survey by SunTrust Mortgage. The only factors that ranked higher were more living space and the opportunity to build equity.
Some millennials are leaving condos in the city so they can have a yard for the dog or a convenient place to bathe a pet. Among the top “pet-friendly” amenities they look for in a home are a large yard (45 percent), a dog run (26 percent) and sturdy flooring (26 percent), according to the SunTrust Mortgage survey.
Realtors and Architects Get in the Act
In the past, if you wanted to sell your house, you had to erase all signs of pets. That meant vacuuming on a daily basis, hiding the dog beds and food bowls, and driving your pets around in the car during open houses.
But now that dogs and cats are real family members, realtors, architects and custom-home builders are putting pet-friendly amenities at the top of their sales pitches. Pet-appealing amenities include anything from stain-resistant hardwood floors and attractive pocket doors in lieu of doggy gates to windows that are at the perfect height for dogs or cats, along with built-in litter boxes or feeding stations and custom bathing rooms.
Recognizing the power pets wield in the home-buying process, the real estate company Coldwell Banker recently kicked off TV ads promoting their “Homes for Dogs Project.” As part of the program, they held dog-adoption events across the country to help find homes for 20,000 dogs. They even offer pet-friendly articles on their website with topics such as how install a pet door and tips for pet-friendly window treatments.
Which just goes to show that now, more than ever, a pet’s place is in the home.