If you are one of the 65% of American households with pets in residence, and house hunting, keep in mind these important factors as you start the process. We have helped countless pet-loving buyers over the years. Here are our best tips for house hunting with pets so you can make sure the home you choose is the right one for you – and your furry friend.
Top 7 Tips for House Hunting with Pets
1) Your Realtor
First and foremost when house hunting with pets, find a Realtor you like and trust and that understands how important your pet is to you. While your Realtor does not need to be pet owner, he or she should know the local ordinances affecting pet owners, which condo buildings are pet-friendly, where the closest dog park is, etc. (visit this post for other tips on choosing a Realtor)
2) Consider the Location and “The Fit”
Will you need to come home during the workday to attend to your pet(s)? If so, be sure to consider proximity to work, school or other activities when starting your house hunting.
Think about the environment your pet enjoys. Will your dog be happy in a very urban environment where there is lots of action – even if there is less space in the home and no access to a yard? If so, how far away is the closest dog-friendly park?
Or, does your pet prefer a more quiet setting with a large property? If you decide it’s best for you and your pet to go for a more suburban setting, will you enjoy the lifestyle as well? Be sure that both you AND your pet will be happy in the new space.
Last, are you willing to consider homes located on a busy street? Is the property fenced in? A busy location can be a dealbreaker for many pet owners who fear their pet may escape and wander into traffic.
3) Check the Rules!
This is one of the key things to consider when house hunting with pets. Whether you’re looking for a condo, townhome, or single family home, be sure to check the governing rules regarding pets if you are in a condo or HOA association. In a condo building, in particular, you may be limited to a certain number of pets or pets under a certain weight limit. Be sure to get any such rules in writing – they are usually part of the condo documents. Bear in mind, these rules WILL be enforced and violators can face hefty fines.
On the flip side, some buildings and communities are very pet friendly, offering on-site services and dog runs. If you see lots of pets and their owners out and about as you’re touring homes, you’ll know! Don’t be afraid to ask them about their experience.
Also, for those wishing to bring larger or more “exotic” animals (such as livestock or fowl), definitely check local ordinances. While the local government jurisdiction may allow you to have chickens in your yard, your neighborhood/homeowners association may not.
4) Analyze The Layout
- Stairs – A puppy or kitten will be able to handle stairs for many years; an older dog or cat may not be up for stairs at all or for long.
- Windows – If your pet enjoys watching the world go by, make sure the home offer window ledges or a bay window for sitting.
- Feeding time – Scope out spots for the food and water bowls and the kitty litter box (ideally out of guests’ view).
- Flooring – Carpets not only stain easily but they attract pet fur and dander like crazy. Tile or hardwood floors may be better options.
- Room to Play – Confirm that there is space inside for your pet to stretch and play.
- Room to Hide – Not everyone loves pets. Try to have a spot where you can keep your pet behind closed doors when non-animal lovers come to visit.
- Dog/Cat Door – Is this feature a pro or a con to you? It may or may not be a dealbreaker to you, but most pet owning househunters look for one while others worry about escape!
5) Outdoor Space
- Room to roam – Assess the size of the yard, if there is one, compared to the size of your dog. Is there enough room for Fido to happily play fetch?
- Water Access- An outdoor spot to bathe your pet is ideal! Look for a hose, faucet and drain out back, in the garage, or at least in the laundry or mud room.
- Pool – If the home has a pool, ensure it also comes with a cover or gate, or plan to invest in one.
- The Yard – Check that the yard does not have any vegetation toxic to your pet. Click here for the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of such plants.
- Fencing – If the home does already have a fence, make sure it is gated, the latches work, and the fence is high enough to contain your dog. Also, be sure to check for any loose fence boards that may allow your furry friend to escape.
6) Pet Friendly Neighbors
Again, while house hunting with pets, look around to see if there are a lot of pets around the neighborhood. Do you see people out walking their dogs? If so, it’s usually a sign you’ll be in good company.
7) Local Dog Services
Check to make sure any services your pet will need are nearby. Consider the proximity of your veterinarian, favorite dog parks, kennels, groomers, dog walkers, and trainers.
The Bottom Line
When house hunting with pets, many factors come into play. You will want to find a home that is the perfect fit for you and your beloved pet — inside and out. Do your homework with these tips and of course, use an experienced Realtor who can guide you through the process.
If we can help you find that perfect home for you and your pet, please reach out. Our passion is helping people love where they live!
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