PHOENIX (Arizona's Family) – When it comes to buying a home – the biggest purchase most people will ever make – it's essential to consider the needs of your family. Your whole family. For many, particularly millennials, that means their pets. Forget evaluating school districts. Is there a dog park nearby? Are the community hangouts pet-friendly? Is there a safe place to walk the dog?
We love our pets. They are a priority in their lives. According to the National Association of Realtors, 43% of people "would be willing to move to better accommodate their pet(s)." While others would not necessarily go that far for their pets, the animals are still a big part of their humans' home-buying decisions. "When searching for a new home, consumers don't only look for pet-friendly features within the home; 18 percent of recent homebuyers said it was very important that their new neighborhood is convenient to a vet and/or outdoor space for their pet(s)," according to the NAR. "Not only do pets influence certain aspects sought after in homes themselves, but also in communities …."
The NAR says three things seem to be especially important to pet parents as they look for their perfect home – a fenced yard, a large enough home for everyone, and flooring.
Mike Mosier of CarterMosier Group has first-hand experience with pet parents – he has two adorable dogs himself -- and he agrees that flooring is a big deal to buyers. Mosier sees himself as a real estate counselor, helping his clients determine the features they must have in their new homes and what they think would be nice to have. For pet parents, flooring falls somewhere between those categories, probably a little closer to the must-have end of the spectrum.
Mosier said flooring suitable for animals is one of the top two requests he hears from his clients. They want something durable and easy to clean, like ceramic tile or wood-look tile. "Even the luxury vinyl plank and the laminate floorings now are phenomenal," he said. "They've come a long, long way."
The other essential is a place for their dogs to go outside. "It doesn't even have to be a yard," Mosier said. "People just want an area for their pet to go out, go to the bathroom." He said he's seeing more and more apartment and condo complexes like Artisan Lofts on Central that have little dog runs or dog parks with artificial grass. "You don't have to walk [your dog] in the street. You don't have to walk to a local park," Mosier said. "But a lot of these communities, it's almost a demand by these buyers. They want a dog area, a patio area."
Another consideration for pet-parent homebuyers is their pet's age. Stairs can be hard on older animals, not to mention potentially dangerous. "We are seeing a lot of people that actually if they have a pet that's later in life, they're really wanting a single floor. So, one level."
Doggie doors, while not necessarily a must-have feature, go on the pro list of many buyers. "We're seeing more and more houses with doggie doors," Mosier said. "I think as pet owners, we also want that convenience for our pets that they don't have to wait on us. So, we like what's going to make them the most comfortable." Functionality is an essential part when it comes to a doggie door, of course, but you can't deny the importance of aesthetics. "We just sold a property out in Litchfield Park, and the doggie door had a matching pergola to the adult pergola on the back of the house. … It was just phenomenal. Their dog had a matching pergola that shaded the exit to the doggie door." On the inside, you want to have enough space for not only a place for the homeowner to sit, but also that special spot for their pet.
Another thing Mosier is seeing is incorporating the dog's essentials – food dishes -- into the furniture. One home in his portfolio, for example, has built-in drawers specifically for the food and water bowls.
Pet parent homebuyers are not just looking at houses or condos. They're looking at communities and neighborhoods, too. "A lot of people are wanting to move into areas where it's super dog friendly as a neighborhood."
Safety is key, too. Mosier said one recent client did not have a location in mind, but specifically said she needed to be in an area where she would feel safe while out and about. "It just had to feel safe enough for her to walk with a stroller and walk with her dog," Mosier said.
This is Phoenix, so swimming pools are common. If you've ever flown into Sky Harbor International Airport, you can see that for yourself. Pools are a big plus for dog owners. "Because of the hot Arizona summers, a lot of people actually want a pool for their pet, as well. And they're happy to share it," Mosier said. Speaking of water, outdoor showers are popular with pet owners, too. "They're finding that the outdoor showers are really great amenities to bathe their dogs or to cool them down on a hot day."
Time for a swim!
Flexibility means more choices
Too many specific requirements can make it difficult – even impossible – to find the "perfect home." Mosier suggests you try to be flexible with your needs and wants lists and keep in mind the changes you can make to the place once you move in.
"I think we have a lot of people who either don't have children or they have growing families, they want a pet to be a part of it," Mosier said. "We just closed on a property with a young professional couple. And they've got two wiener dogs that are their life." The dogs' names are Rocky and Melvin. "Pets are, I think have always been and will be, a member of the family. … We are working with, it seems like, more and more people that have animals that are just a massive part of their life."