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Tips for Buying a Pet-Friendly Home

by Kindra Liang
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When it comes to buying a home, most of us know what features are at the top of our checklist. For pet owners, however, there are a few additional factors to consider to make sure your furry friends feel just as comfortable in their new home. According to The American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68 percent of American households own pets, so it’s also important to remember if you’re selling your home to know what features to promote to pet owners to help secure your sale. Here are a few things to consider that often get overlooked; keep them in mind to find a place that fits the needs of your entire family (fur babies included).

1. The Neighborhood

Is the property on a busy street with a lot of through traffic? If your pet accidentally gets out, you don’t want them running into a busy intersection. Does the neighborhood have a dog run, park, trail, or other green space? Are there people outside walking their dogs after work? Does the neighborhood have sidewalks? You want to choose a place where you feel comfortable walking, and in snowy climates, that definitely means finding a neighborhood with sidewalks. Walking in the roadway can be very dangerous and no one wants to trudge through thick snow. Pet owners should also think about the local wildlife. In some areas, proximity to a green space means being closer to coyotes and foxes, which like to snack on smaller critters. These are all things to note if you’re looking for a pet-friendly neighborhood.

You’re also going to want to find out about the local pet laws. Just because you own a piece of property doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed that your pets will be allowed there. Depending on the number and the breed, there can be restrictions within an HOA, condo development, or even the city or state. One common example of this is HOA restrictions on the size of dog that owners are allowed to have in a neighborhood. Be on the lookout for this one, especially if you own a large pet.

2. Yard, Fencing, & Windows

If you’re a dog owner, you probably prefer a home with a fenced in yard, however if on the off-chance you fall in love with a home without a fence, you may want to factor in the cost of adding one and any HOA restrictions involved.

Depending on where you’re looking, your potential home may have a pond, pool or other water feature on the property. Is it something that can be made safe for your pet (steps or ramp to get out) or fenced off so they can’t fall in and drown?

Make sure your windows are securely screened. The incidence of cats falling out of second-story (and higher) windows is so common that veterinarians call it “high rise syndrome.”

3. The Location

Keep in mind how close in proximity your new home is to certain services like a veterinarian, emergency pet centers, pet stores, dog parks, pet sitters, and groomers. You can Google “Pet-Friendly Cities” or turn to your Realtor for help with this. Good Realtors will know what benefits neighborhoods offer.

4. The Flooring

Hardwood floors are ideal, especially when your pets are potty training, since they are easy to clean. Flooring expert Debbie Gartner recommends solid hardwood since it can be refinished when it’s scratched and suggests looking for very light or very dark wood, and triple-sealing it with high-grade polyurethane (use a water-based poly for light floors, and oil-based for dark).

The downside to hardwoods is they are prone to water damage. If you purchase a home with hardwoods, you’ll want to add a mat under the water bowl and regular nail trims for your furry friend.

If you’re putting in new flooring, consider reclaimed or distressed wood so that the scratches just add more character. Other good flooring options include poured concrete, tile, luxury vinyl, or laminate.

If you have pets, you may want to skip on the wall-to-wall carpet. It’s not great for resale value – cats will claw it and dogs with track in mud and dirt. Carpet also traps smells from accidents, stains easily, and collects pet hair. If you need something softer underfoot, go with an area or throw rug, which creates the same cozy feeling, but can easily be cleaned or replaced.

5. Your Home’s Layout

Something else to consider if you have large dogs or several dogs is the size of your home and its layout.The last thing you want is to be constantly tripping over your animals, so plenty of space is key. If you are downsizing, you should take into account how a tighter space might stress your pet.

Does your pet have free reign over the home when you’re at work or running errands? If you’re looking for an ideal place to confine your pet, make sure there is enough room for your dog to run around and play, and that they have access to a doggie door or somewhere to go potty.

If you’re looking at a multilevel home, consider whether your dogs will be OK with the stairs, particularly as they age. Consider a single-story home or a home with carpeted stairs if you have a small or senior dog that has difficulties going up and down stairs.

Take your time! Don’t rush the hunt for your perfect house if you have pets. In the end, if you do your research and put in a little extra effort, you and your pets will both be happier.

Article by Katie Rothman, REX

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