According to the American Pet Products Association, people keep one or more pets in approximately 67 percent of households in the United States. Buying a home when you own a pet might seem like a simple process for this reason alone. After all, sellers, banks, and realtors know that many people buy homes because they can’t have pets in rental properties. Yet, the freedom that you think you’re going to enjoy with both home and pet ownership might not happen as planned. As a pet owner, there are several things to consider before purchasing a home:
1. Research Local Natural Threats
If you’re considering a move to a different geographic region, especially a rural one, check for natural threats that could harm your pets before picking a home. You might find the perfect house in a location that isn’t pet-friendly because of the presence of predators like bears, coyotes, foxes, mountain lions, snakes, or wolves. Certain wild plants are also toxic to pets.
2. Look Out for Man-Made Dangers
Homes near busy streets and highways aren’t good locations for pet owners either, or parents of small children for that matter, because it’s too easy for pets to run into traffic. Additionally, reconsider moving close to a multi-year construction project site since a pet that runs off can become injured or killed by falling materials or heavy construction equipment or trapped in a deep ditch or hole.
3. Check Pet Ownership Rules
Many laws exist around the country that place limitations on pet ownership. If you’ve thought about moving into a community that has a homeowners or condo association, you need to ask if you’re even allowed to have a pet. A lot of towns, cities, and even individual neighborhoods also have restrictions on the breed and number of pets allowed within the borders of a particular area. Some communities even limit the type of pets a person can own because of noise and nuisance rules.
4. Determine Roaming Restrictions
Beyond pet ownership rules, many communities enforce restrictions related to the ability of pets to roam. Plenty of locales have leash laws that require you to always have your pet on a leash even in your own yard. Some HOAs don’t permit the installation of fences or only permit underground electric ones. If you own a dog, you might find that the “perfect home” is in a neighborhood where homeowners can’t install chain links or tall wooden fences.
5. Map Proximity to Pet-Friendly People
It’s important to pick a location where you’re surrounded by people who love pets so that you have a strong local support system. Look for places in close proximity to animal clinics, emergency animal hospitals, veterinary offices, kennels, dog parks, groomers, pet stores, and pet-walking and pet-sitting service providers. Also, once you find a potential house, check the neighborhood to see if the people living in it are pet owners by taking a walk in the early morning or evening and looking for people walking pets and outside dog houses and other pet-related items.
6. Pick a Large Enough Space
The home you buy needs to be large enough that your pets can roam inside without causing a lot of ruckus or posing a fall hazard to the humans living within it. You also need to know that you have the space to move your pets out of the way when you want time alone or have guests over. You might set aside a room or an entire floor for one or more pets and their bedding or a crate and toys. Pick a home that also has enough storage space for at least six months of pet supplies.
7. Think About the Long Term
Home size is only one consideration. You need to think about how your pet or pets will interact with your new home. For example, hardwood floors are easier to clean and repair than carpets. If you own one or more dogs, you might want a basement mudroom with a drain or walk-in shower to make grooming easier. If you own a cat, you need to consider if you want a home with deep, wooden window sills that it can gouge and make unsightly by jumping up to rest in the sunlight. The house also needs to have tightly secured windows and screens to prevent high-rise syndrome falls.
8. Bring Pets to House Viewings
Lastly, one of the best ways to determine if a particular house and location can work with your unique pet ownership situation is by bringing your pet or pets with you to the appointment with the seller or realtor. Always ask permission beforehand since some people might not allow pets at viewings, which is an immediate sign that the home probably won’t meet your needs. At the viewing, allow your pet or pets to roam around in indoor and outdoor spaces a bit to see if it’s the right fit.