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How pets are influencing housing decisions, post-pandemic

by Emily Mack

Pet ownership increased dramatically during the pandemic. A majority of U.S. households currently include pets and 73% of homeowners report at least one pet in the home. That’s a 9% increase from just a year prior, according to new data from Zillow’s 2021 Consumer Housing Trends Report. Based on a nationwide survey of new homebuyers, the data from Zillow Group illustrates that pet owners are more likely to opt for larger houses.

“Pets are widely considered part of the American family, so it follows that they can factor into moving decisions,” says Manny Garcia, a population scientist at Zillow. The report notes that pet owners are 7% more likely than those without pets to buy house with more than 3,000 square feet. In 2021, 36% of buyers who own a pet chose homes with four-plus bedrooms. For comparison, just 24% of non-pet owning buyers purchased homes that large.

And, as any dog owner can tell you, a fenced yard is key. Seventy-three percent of survey respondents with pets ranked private outdoor space as “extremely important,” compared to the 65% of respondents without pets. Respondents without pets also demonstrated a higher likely likelihood to purchase a condo or co-op real estate: 14%, nearly twice the rate of buyers without pets.

“This research shows an increase in pet ownership among recent movers and suggests that pets can impact housing preferences. In some cases, they may even be the catalyst for a move, along with other factors, such as remote work and shifting family priorities,” said Garcia. However, the demographics of these pet-owners also suggest other trends at play. Pet owners are skewing slightly younger — 41 on average — and are more likely to have children. Those factors also drive the need for more bedrooms and ample space.

Then again, prior research has indicated the central role of a pet in the homebuying process. Home sales occurred at a faster rate when the house included pet-friendly features according to a 2020 Zillow report. Those animal-inclusive additions also help to increase the sale price of a home. In August, Homes.com found that 68% of pet owners professed to prioritizing the needs of their pet when picking a house. Those results were also fairly in line with research by Zillow and Rover, which suggested that 62% of dog owners would move to improve the life of their furry friends.

Read More: Roll over, homebuyers: New survey reveals how people choose houses based on their pets

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