4 Things Pet Owners Regret Doing When Buying a Home

published Jun 13, 2019
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Thinking about your pets when buying a house? You aren’t alone. According to a 2018 Realtor.com survey, 79 percent of pet-owning homebuyers say they’d pass on an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet their pets’ needs. Additionally a 2017 survey by SunTrust found 33 percent of millennial Americans decided to buy their first home so their dog could have a yard.

I will admit, I’m one of these pet-focused homebuyers. For each of the three times I’ve move in the past decade, the dogs’ needs were maybe the biggest big consideration. We even decided to move from Brooklyn to Portland, Oregon, for an easier home layout and lifestyle when two of our dogs developed a medical condition.

But the search for that home wasn’t easy. Though we were able to find the perfect home for our whole family, I’ve heard many stories from those who were less fortunate. Thankfully, along with help from “The Pet-Friendly Realtor,” Jill Barsky in Maryland, I’ve put together the most common regrets pet owners have from their home search.

Regret: Working with a real estate agent that doesn’t take your pet needs seriously

Take it from me: Many prospective real estate agent won’t take your pets’ needs seriously. My partner and I had to interview countless agents before we found one we felt comfortable with. In the end, we found a dog-loving team who truly understood how a home would serve our furry friends. When we closed on our home, our agents even gave our pups a housewarming basket with locally-made treats and toys!

Regret: Buying a home just for the yard

When working with clients, Barksy first considers the unique needs and lifestyles of their pets when looking at properties—beyond just yard size. While a big yard will be great for active dogs, it may be overwhelming to one who likes to hide behind the couch. Is your pet social? Find a home near a dog run or in an area with a meet-up group. Find your parakeet is easily frightened? Maybe a home with a well-ventilated, quiet office space is the one with you.

Regret: Only thinking about “right now”

One of most common mistakes house hunters make—with or without pets—is not thinking about future plans when buying a home. Barsky says this extends to owners who don’t consider how their pets will age as they live in the home. Though you may have a puppy when you’re buying that split-level home, keep in mind that those steps might pose a challenge as the dog ages.

Regret: Not researching rules and regulations

If you’re purchasing a condo, co-op, or home in a homeowners association, there are likely to be regulations around your pets.

“Sadly, I get many buyers who have to sell their place because proper research was not done prior to sale and now their pet is not allowed,” Barsky explains.

Be aware that current regulations can change at anytime. Though you may think it’s an unlikely precaution, my experience says otherwise: When I was living in a large Brooklyn co-op, I received warning that the board had suddenly amended the bylaws to be less dog-friendly. After trying to live with the new rules, we ended up having to put our apartment on the market for our dogs’ comfort.

And when we were looking to settle in the Pacific Northwest, we found out that cities often have surprising limitations around number of pets you’re legally allowed to have. For example, Seattle city officials told us that the city has a three-pet limit per household. Since that wasn’t going to work for our three dog, three cat family, we settled on Portland, which has more lax laws.

Additionally, even if you’re not living in a multi-family building, many cities have ordinances against certain dog breeds, like pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds.

If your pets do something other than bark and purr, you might need to do more extensive research, too. Some communities don’t allow animals like ferrets or hedgehogs, let alone more “exotic” type animals. And though chickens have grown in popularity, not all cities or neighborhoods welcome them as pets. Fish, too, can even be regulated. Many buildings don’t allow aquariums over a certain volume for concerns of water and floor damage (all that water is a lot heavier than you suspect!) In all cases, make sure you reach out to your local government before adopting a pet to get the legal lowdown.

Got the home? Congrats! Now, here’s seven ways to make the move-in process a little easier for your animal friends.

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