Kevin Hawkins is the president of WAV Group Communications and an award-winning strategic communications veteran.
Finding a place for Fido is one of the most significant impacts millennials have on today’s housing industry. I believe the impact of pets on housing decisions has never been more powerful, and it is likely to grow. Understanding these trends can help real estate agents and brokers market their properties and attract buyers.
The pandemic accelerated the impact of pets on housing as it ushered in a surge in pet adoption. In fact, one-third of all pet owners adopted during the pandemic, according to a Quotient study. Millennials were the most likely to adopt, with 43% helping to create a furry baby boom.
Since 2014, millennials have comprised the single largest generation of first-time buyers. Millennials are pet owners, and pet considerations are among the most important factors in their home purchase decisions.
As more millennials move from renting to owning their own homes, pets are likely to be part of their home purchase equation. Zillow notes that among current homeowners, 46% have at least one dog and 34% have at least one cat. Zillow’s research also notes that 46% of renters have pets, and 48% said allowing pets is a requirement for their next rental.
Buyers and renters are willing to pay for the privilege of having pets. According to research by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average annual pet fee for clients who purchase single-family homes/townhouses and condos/co-ops is $300; for renters, the average is $400.
Pets are already a mainstay among many homeowners. NAR found that nearly two-thirds currently have a furry family member. The study also found that 43% of households would be willing to move to accommodate their pets, and 18% of Realtors surveyed say they have represented clients who have moved solely for their animal. Realtors say the number one feature their clients with pets desire is a fenced yard, followed by larger homes to accommodate their pets, then flooring.
Community Choices And Availability
Pets are not only influencing housing decisions but also community choices. Realtors note that a vast majority of their clients — some 68% — say that “animal policy influenced their decision to rent or buy in a particular community” according to the NAR report. They also found that when consumers are searching for a new home, buyers not only look for pet-friendly features, but nearly one in five said it was “very important that their new neighborhood is convenient to a vet and/or outdoor space for their pet(s).”
A survey of 40,000 landlords confirms that finding the right place for your pet can be a significant challenge for renters. They found that 55% of landlords allow pets, but only 43% of the landlords don’t limit size or type. Finding a place that allows large dogs or certain breeds can present a great hurdle for tenants.
All of this pet research shows one of the potential reasons behind more renters’ interest in becoming homeowners.
The good news for home shoppers is that 81% of Realtors consider themselves to be animal lovers according to NAR; and remarkably, more than one in 10 Realtors showcase this in their marketing.
Realtors embrace the impact of pets when advising their clients during the sale of their homes. But, ironically, according to the NAR study, despite the massive popularity of pets among homeowners, the top pet-related advice Realtors give their pet-owning clients is to make sure animals are not present during showings. The next most popular advice Realtors give their sellers: repair pet damage to a home, followed by cleaning the home to get rid of an animal scent.
Rental properties are pet-restrictive because of the potential impact to the property. According to a 2005 study, the biggest concerns landlords have about pets are damage, noise complaints and insurance costs.
What This Means For Real Estate Agents and Brokers
Opportunities for real estate agents and brokers to address the needs of pet-friendly Millennials and Gen-Z home buyers when marketing their property listings are abundant. Putting a spotlight on the home’s pet amenities — larger yards, yards with fences, dog run areas — are uncommon in real estate listings, but they don’t have to be.
For example, the Real Estate Standards Organization adopted energy-saving search features that, when implemented by local multiple listing services, helps consumers find more earth-friendly homes. (Disclosure: I am a member of RESO, and my company is a charter member.) Implementing a similar function with pet amenities for properties and surrounding communities could be something for leaders in the industry to consider moving forward.
Real estate agents and brokers should look nearby their property listings for pet-friendly amenities and incorporate these features into their marketing. These new generations of home buyers want to know how close they are to dog parks, trails, veterinary services, pet stores, pet grooming services and more. Because housing really is going to the dogs — and cats and other furry friends.