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The Home-Buying Guide for Pet Parents
According to the 2023-2024 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 87 million U.S. households have pets, and millions of pet owners move yearly.
We built this guide for pet parents to highlight how to shop for homes so that when you buy your first home, it’s a home that meets your and your paw pals’ needs, too.
Find A Great Home For Your Pets [Infographic]
Pets & Homeownership: Statistics
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 29% of U.S. households would move because of their pets and pet owners shared the top 3 traits for their ideal upcoming home:
- A fenced-in yard
- Extra footage and living space
- Freedom to change flooring types
First-time buyers house a wide range of pets and breeds. Dogs are the most popular household pet, followed by cats and freshwater fish.
The top 5 household pets in America are:
- Dogs (65.1 million)
- Cats (46.5 million)
- Freshwater Fish (11.1 million)
- Small Animals (6.7 million)
- Birds (6.1 million)
The next most popular pets among U.S. households are horses, reptiles, and saltwater fish.
The APPA study shows that Millennials are most likely to own pets (33 percent), followed by Generation X (25 percent) and Baby Boomers (24 percent).
Also noteworthy: 16 percent of Generation Z households have pets, and Gen Z is the cohort with the most fish, birds, and reptiles.
Two-thirds of people moving into a homeowners association consider the community’s pet policy before buying a home or moving in, and homeowners (57%) are more likely to have a pet than renters (37%).
3 Common Features of Pet-Friendly Neighborhoods
A good home for a pet meets your furry friend’s physical and emotional needs and keeps them happy.
In this section of the Home-Buying Guide for Pet Parents, we talk about three common features of pet-friendly homes. Not all great pet homes will have these three traits – but many will.
As your shop for homes, drive the neighborhoods and check for the following:
1. The area is architected for pets
The basics of a well-built neighborhood for pets include:
- Ample parks and green space
- Sidewalks and walking paths for safety
- Plenty of other pets
Parks and green spaces allow pets to run, explore, and play with other pets and humans – bonus points for parks with dedicated pet space, such as dog parks and lakes.
Walking paths provide safety from cars, trucks, and cyclists; and protection from chemicals that spill on public roads. Walking also promotes healthy weight and bones.
Lastly, pets attract pets. A neighborhood with an abundance of four-legged friends is, by definition, pet-friendly, which means you and your pet can make new friends.
Find a neighborhood with all three elements, and your pets will happily live there.
2. The local laws are favorable to pets and pet owners
Many municipalities enforce pet laws, which dictate how animals and residents interact. Some local governments go as far as to dictate which animals are disallowed in a community.
Before buying your first home with a pet, check the local pet rules. Ensure they’re favorable to you, your snout squad, and your animal-loving lifestyle.
Some of the common U.S. pet laws include the following:
- Leash laws, which dictate areas where animals must be leashed
- Breed laws, which dictate which breeds are allowed in a community
- Pet limit laws, which dictate how many pets may legally occupy a home
- Vaccination laws, which dictate which shots pets must receive
- Licensing laws, which dictate how pets must be registered with local authorities
- Clean-up laws, which require pet owners to pick up waste from their pets
Neighborhoods and homeowners associations may also enforce noise rules to which pets are subject. If your Fluff Squad is a vocal variety, check your local regulations.
3. The home is close to a vet and a reputable animal hospital
When you buy a home in a neighborhood with veterinarians or an animal hospital, life gets safer for your scruffy sidekicks.
Living near a veterinarian or an animal hospital means your pets can get help quickly in an emergency, such as after an illness or injury or ingesting dangerous foods. Immediate treatment is crucial in poisoning and life-threatening situations.
Buying a home near animal medical facilities benefits pets in other ways, too:
- Shorter drives to the veterinarian, which reduce the stress pets get from cars
- Shelter during emergencies, such as floods and other storms
- Better veterinary relationships, which help your pet get better care
Buying a home near animal care helps keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy. Plus, it makes life easier and more enjoyable for you and your shaggy soulmates.
5 Common Features of Pet-Friendly Homes
Pet-friendly homes make life easier for you and your pets, ensuring everyone feels right at home.
This section of the Home-Buying Guide for Pet Parents explores five common features of a pet-friendly home, including pet-appropriate flooring, easy-to-clean surfaces, and secure indoor and outdoor spaces.
As you search for your perfect home, look for the following pet-friendly features:
1. Durable and pet-appropriate flooring
Pets are often messy, and your home’s flooring design affects how you and your pets live.
For example, vinyl, laminate, and tile floors are durable, easy to clean, and scratch-resistant, making upkeep easier. And bamboo doubles as a pet-friendly and eco-friendly flooring option.
Floors that work well for pets and their owners have similar traits:
- Able to be wiped, swept, and cleaned quickly
- Resistant to scratches from claws and nails
- Textured to keep pets from slipping while walking or standing up
- Comfortable for pets to rest on
- Noise-dampening or sound-absorbing
Many homeowners also use area rugs and carpet runners to make flooring more friendly to their pets.
2. Safe indoor spaces
Pets need physical and emotional safe spaces inside your home, which are different.
Cageless pets should have a designated space for bedding, toys, crates, and food and water for emotional safety. Small pets in cages should also have specific areas, plus toys to keep them engaged and healthy.
For physical safety, the hallmarks of a safe indoor space include:
- An open floor plan, which gives pets room to move around and play
- A lack of hazardous objects, such as sharp corners, exposed wires, and open cabinets
- Secured windows and doors, which prevent your pets from wandering into the neighborhood or getting hurt
Also, carpeting or non-slip treads for homes with stairs can reduce the risk of your pets slipping and injuring themselves with a fall.
3. Safe outdoor spaces / backyard
First-time home buyers with pets rank outdoor space as an essential pet-related aspect of buying a home.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 49 percent of pet-owning buyers want a fenced-in yard, followed by a larger home (27%) and better pet flooring (24%).
Yards matter to pet owners.
Look for these essential outdoor features when you’re shopping for your dream home:
- A fenced-in yard, which gives your pets a safe place to play outside
- Shade and shelter, in which your pets can rest on hot days and find protection from the elements
- Non-toxic vegetation, which gives pets freedom to chew or play without risk of illness or death
Also, for homes with perimeter gates, ensure the locks are functioning and secure to prevent your pets from escaping your yard and other pets from entering your yard.
Lastly, review the neighborhood bylaws for homes governed by a homeowners association to ensure your outdoor space and fencing meet local requirements. Neighborhoods may require a specific fence type, such as split rail, or limit your backyard fence to a particular height.
4. Space for bathing your pet
Helping your pets stay clean is essential for their health and happiness.
If you’re a “go-to-the-groomer” pet family, look for homes near reputable grooming facilities. However, if you’re a do-it-yourself pet washer, look for properties with ample space for bathing when shopping for homes.
Your next home could have indoor and outdoor bathing options for your pet.
To improve indoor bath time for your tail-wagging tribe, search for homes with oversized bathtubs or showers that fit you and your pet comfortably. Handheld shower heads make soaping and rinsing your pet more manageable, and non-slip surfaces keep everyone safe.
For pets who prefer outdoor baths, pet owners should search for homes with spacious yards and room for outdoor bathing options, such as wading pools or portable pet baths.
Hose access is paramount, too, to facilitate bath prep.
5. Natural lighting and good ventilation
Good lighting and ventilation improve your pet’s well-being. When you’re shopping for a home for you and your pet posse, prioritize homes with these features:
- Natural light, which helps to regulate sleep patterns and moods and provides essential vitamin D
- Ventilation systems and exhaust fans, which circulate air, eliminate odors and reduce the buildup of pet dander and allergens
- Temperature control, which keeps your pets comfortable day and night and assists with healthy respiration
Lastly, look for easy access for your pets to the outdoors, either through a dedicated pet door or another door in the home. Pets with access to fresh air and sunshine are happier and healthier than pets without.
How To Move To A New Home With Your Pet
Moving with a pet is a significant change for your pet and you.
Show patience as your lovable lump adapts to its new home and environment. Your pet will become familiar with the new neighborhood and comfortable in its new space in time.
This section of the Home-Buying Guide for Pet Parents shares proven ways to help your pet adjust to living in its new home.
1. Let your pet adjust to its new surroundings slowly
Moving homes and neighborhoods is a big change for a pet.
Help your pet adjust by taking the move slowly. Allow your pet time to familiarize itself with the inside of your new home, giving them ample time to sniff and feel safe in the new space. Slowly introduce your home’s outdoor space, letting your pet move at its own pace.
Once your pet shows comfort inside and outside the home, gradually introduce them to the neighborhood. Take very short walks around the block. Allow your pet time to sniff and explore their new surroundings.
During your walks, bring treats and offer them as rewards for good behavior. Soon, your pet will associate the new neighborhood with positive experiences. Then, as your walking wagger gets more comfortable, gradually increase the distance of your walks and greet neighbors who are also outside.
For safety, note off-leash pets and stray animals you see on your walks, and watch for dangerous plants. Stay vigilant as your pet acclimates to new wildlife and vegetation.
Next, introduce pet-friendly parks and trails nearby where your furball can meet and socialize with other four-legged friends.
2. Review local pet ordinances before moving in
Municipalities and homeowners associations often enact safety rules to protect their communities’ pets and people.
Following the local rules will help you be a better neighbor, avoid fines and persistent penalties, and keep your pet safe.
Local pet ordinances are public but must be sought out by residents of a community. To find your local pet ordinances, visit the official website of your new area or contact your local animal service department.
For home buyers in condominiums or planned communities, asking a neighbor for information can be a great way to get started.
Some common pet ordinances include the following:
- Leash laws, which require pets to be on a leash when outside the home or in public spaces
- Pet waste disposal, which requires pet owners to clean up after their pets in public areas
- Licensing and vaccination, which require pets to be licensed and have up-to-date vaccinations
- Noise ordinances, which punish excessive barking and other pet noises
- Breed-specific regulations, which limit or regulate ownership of certain animal breeds
Being a responsible pet owner fosters positive relationships within your community and with your neighbors and gives your pet a better life. Learn about your new home’s rules for pets before moving in.
3. Make time for your pet on move-in day
On move-in day, set aside time to help your pets adjust and feel secure in their new home and surroundings.
Before bringing your pet to its new home, set up a space with a familiar bed or blanket, favorite toys, and food and water dishes. Create a designated area for potty events for animals that use litter boxes or the like.
Designated spaces make your pet feel secure and comfortable during the move.
Moving can be stressful for pets. They may feel anxious or unsure about their new home. To help them feel at ease, schedule playtime breaks, offer treats for good behavior, and make time to cuddle.
Then, after you’ve settled into your new home a bit, take your pet for a walk and explore the neighborhood and community. Be leisurely. Walk around the block or visit a nearby park. Let your pet sniff and set the pace, and only insist on going as far as your pet may want to walk.
By making time for your pet on move-in day, you can help ease their stress and anxiety, making the transition to their new home more comfortable for both of you. Remember, your pet relies on you for love and support. Be patient and understanding as they adapt to their new surroundings. With time, your pet will settle in and feel at home in your new space.
4. Create a routine in your new home for your pet
To help your pet adjust to new environments, establish a consistent, daily routine for them.
Pets thrive on predictability, and maintaining routine helps reduce their stress and anxiety during the transition. Patterns also make managing your pet’s needs more straightforward.
You can schedule several parts of a pet’s day, including :
- Meal times, which keeps your pet from feeling food stress and unease
- Walks and exercise, which help your pet burn off energy and familiarize themselves with their new surroundings
- Training, which helps to reinforce learned behaviors and introduce new ones
- Quiet time, which gives your pet time to relax and adjust to its new surroundings
- Bedtime, which allows pets to establish a sense of familiarity and control
Some pets adjust quickly to new environments, such as a home. Others take weeks and months to feel completely comfortable and settled.
To help your pet adjust more quickly, recognize that moving homes can be traumatic to pets. Offer praise and reassurance, and be understanding if your pet has setbacks or displays unusual behavior.
Pets adjust at their own pace.
5. Make new pet friends slowly, at first
Making new pet friends helps pets feel more comfortable in new environments and provides opportunities for socialization and play.
Owners should make pet introductions gradually and carefully.
Start with short, supervised interactions in neutral areas, such as a park on a quiet street.
Keep pets on a leash and allow your pet to sniff and explore new friends from a distance. Gradually, reduce the space between them as they become more comfortable.
Use praise and treats to reward your pet for calm behavior.
So long as play remains safe and friendly, allow your pet to play with their new friend while watching for negative body language.
If you see signs of stress or aggression, separate the pets calmly and try again another day.
Pets may be more receptive to each other after two or three introductions.
Remember that every pet is different. Some pets prefer the company of certain animals over others. Some warm up to new friends right away, and some take longer.
Remember: you should never force your pet into interactions if they appear stressed, unhappy, or uncomfortable.
With time and positive experiences, your pet will form bonds with other area pets and enjoy their new life in your new home.