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First-Time Homebuyers' Guide to Finding a Pet-Friendly Home

Posted by Hunter McFadden on Aug 28, 2017 1:39:49 PM

Americans love their pets, and now it’s showing in their home-buying decisions too. This is especially true for American millennials, 42% of whom consider their pet’s needs first (even before their spouse’s or children’s) when buying/renting a home. This trend is not limited to millennials; even baby boomers who are looking to downsize after their children move out, are looking for pet-friendly homes/neighborhoods where their animal companions can live comfortably.

The following is a checklist of important considerations to help animal-loving home buyers determine whether the new home they’re contemplating will accommodate their pet:

Happy couple with puppy relaxing on sofa at home.jpegHOA regulations

Not all HOAs allow pets to reside on the premises. Even if they do, HOA rules and restrictions vary regarding the number, size, breed, and noise level permissible in the building. Some condos require owners to carry their pets when crossing the lobby while others require pets to be leashed in the common areas. If you have rare pets, check for the latest municipal policies too.

Pet-friendly neighborhood and residents

While touring a prospective neighborhood, look for pet waste receptacles, dog parks, pet day care centers and sitters, vet clinics/hospitals and pet supply stores. Some neighborhoods such as Bethesda and Tysons even have dog-friendly restaurants. Besides the neighborhood, its residents should also have a welcoming attitude towards pets. What percentage of residents has pets? Does the community park allow pets to run around and socialize?

Features of a pet-friendly home
  • Home layout Is there a dedicated play room for your pet? If not, does it have a private space to place a cat litter box or a pet bed? Your pet will appreciate it when you decide to turn up the music in the living room or have guests over for a party. Dogs and cats love to run around in circles while playing, is there enough room? Is there a closet for storing pet supplies? A home with stairs is troublesome for aging pets, so, their owners might want to buy a single-story home. An outdoor faucet in the yard for bathing your pets is useful, as are low-level windows with ledges for cats.
  • Safety- Is your yard fenced sufficiently for your pet? If there’s a swimming pool, is it fenced and does it have a cover? Is there a sturdy pet screen door? Do all of the windows have sturdy screens? This is especially important in high rises. 
  • History of the house- Has the home housed pets previously? If so, look for scratches/gouges on door backs and flooring, especially under rugs.  Inspect the home thoroughly for fleas and pet odor that can take years to clear out. Pet urine stains can cause an unbearable stench in humid weather. Use a flashlight to illuminate undetectable urine stains that might have seeped into hardwood flooring and carpeting. 
  • Landscaping - Some plants and flowers are poisonous to cats and dogs! Be sure to check this list of toxic vegetation before you move in. 
  • Flooring - Besides staining, carpeting is the worst choice for flooring. If unavoidable, check it for hooks and lint that can cause discomfort to pets. 

Laminate flooring can be slippery, so embossed or textured laminates are best. 

If wooden flooring is your choice, opt for hardwood (oak, walnut and mahogany) over softwood (pine, chestnut) as it’s more scratch-resistant. A coating of urethane (engineered hardwood) will be even better. Bamboo is the best pet-friendly flooring choice. It’s stain-resistant and eco-friendly, doesn’t wear out easily, is not slippery and is cheaper to replace/fix. Stone tiles are another good flooring option. Stains/scratches don’t show on tiles, but your pets might find them  too cold to lie on in winter months. 

Choose the Right Realtor: First Time Homebuyers Edition

For help identifying pet-friendly neighborhoods and condo developments in the D.C. Metro area, give me a call! 

Topics: Millennials, pet friendly home, First time home buyers, Young professionals


Hunter McFadden is a third-generation realtor in the Washington, DC area, offering extensive knowledge of the market and trusted personal service to homebuyers and sellers. or 703-862-6840. 

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