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Has Housing Gone to the Dogs…Cats, Birds, and Fish?

cat and dog

Whether clients are buying or selling, sometimes it can seem like the pets are in charge. A recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey indicates that may not be as much of an overstatement as you think. Animal-related considerations factor into 81 percent of living arrangement decisions. In fact, 99 percent of the survey respondents consider their pets to be members of the family.

This love for animals is known to lead at least one-third of pet-owning clients to walk away from homes that aren’t suitable to the needs of these family members. That’s significant enough to warrant previewing listings with an eye toward making sure potential homes accommodate the needs of all family members, even the furry and scaly ones.

The suitability of a home varies with an animal’s age and type, but a recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey found three features are the most prized by pet-owning clients:

  • Fenced-in yards
  • Laminate floors
  • Doggie/cat doors

By the way, the majority of surveyed owners, 83 percent, had at least one dog.

When Selling a “Pet-Friendly” House

It is common practice to recommend your clients remove evidence of their pets through a thorough cleaning and by having them out of the home during showings. Two-thirds of NAR-surveyed Real Estate Agents feel a pet presence in the home can affect how it’s perceived by prospective buyers. This is true even for buyers that have pets.

Fortunately, the pet-related adjustments you would recommend prior to listing are things any homeowner should address, such as making sure floors, baseboards, cabinets and even yards are in the best shape possible. Similarly, you may want to highly recommend a thorough cleaning and the use of air-neutralizers prior to any showing, whether a litterbox resides in the home or not.

Requesting that pets not be home during showings can be a little tricky, but then, no family members should be there. However, you may want to present this as a safety issue, for the pets, first, and prospective buyers, second. You just want to reinforce that your goal is to make the showings run as smoothly as possible.

Giving New Meaning to “the Dog House”

With pets living in 79.7 million U.S. houses—and dogs found in 54.4 million of them (42.9 million have a cat)—Real Estate Agents are well served by considering potential homes through a prospective pet owner’s eyes. Use pet-friendly features as key selling points. These can include open floor plans that accommodate larger dogs, easily cleaned floors, logical spots for litterboxes, yard space, and the home’s proximity to dog parks, groomers, and 24-hour emergency clinics..

Some Real Estate Agents even use “pet appeal” to distinguish their video tours. By letting photogenic cats or dogs roam through the house with the camera crew, they indirectly help potential buyers see how their pets might enjoy the home while highlighting its sunny spots and yard size.

Whether you love them—and the NAR survey indicates 80 percent of you do—or simply tolerate them, acknowledging clients’ pets and highlighting pet-related features are part of a good marketing strategy.

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