For years, Americans’ love of pets has turned many a renter into homeowner. “No pets allowed” was a standard clause in rental contracts until recently, when many landlords realized they could attract and keep tenants happy if they were willing to put up with cats and small pooches.
A recent survey by website Apartments.com found that 72 percent of renters surveyed said they are pet owners, a big jump from 43 percent in 2012.
Ultimately, though, there’s no place like a fireplace, a back yard, a nearby dog park, and a friendly suburban street for man’s best friend. But while a house can mean big things for your furry family members, in recent years the evidence has been mounting that pets—and specifically their by-products—can cost their owners big time when the time comes to sell or refinance.
Cats vs. condos
A cat owner’s condo reportedly sold for up to $30,000 less than it should have because of damage caused by the pets, a real estate agent told a national magazine two years ago. A Boston-based real estate agent was recently quoted to effect that pet hair and pet stink can do major damage to a home’s resale value. The agent specifically mentioned another condo that sold for $20,000 or $30,000 less than it should have because of cats.
Appraisal Institute, a professional association of real estate appraisers, weighed in with a news release two years ago, suggesting that bad neighbors including homeowners with annoying pets can significantly reduce nearby property values.
Get on your knees and pray
Said one blogger on a real estate site: “Basically, if you are ever faced with trying to sell a home and own a pet or two, you should ship off Fido to a kennel, fumigate your house and then get on your knees and pray potential buyers can’t detect any stray pet scents.”
Appraisers also say that the mere fact a pet is resident is no reason to penalize the homeowner. It’s understandable, however, that permanent scents, deep scratch marks on the floor or doors, lawns pitted with brown pee spot and buried bones, or other lasting signs of animal damage would be a bummer to buyers and thereby a reason to chop a few hundred or even a thousand off a home’s value.
Pet haters forget that 47 percent of households own at least one dog and 46 percent own at least one cat, according to the American Human Society. This means for every potential buyer turned off by Fido’s claw marks on the door, there’s another who will opt for the home with a pet door in the kitchen and a fenced backyard.
Custom-built dog runs
Just as landlords are accommodating pet owners for purely financial reasons, there’s a silver lining awaiting homeowners who have made their properties pet-friendly. A survey conducted four years ago by Move Inc., operator of Realtor.com, found that many homeowners are rewarding their dogs with custom-built doghouses, deluxe dog runs, custom “doggy-doors,” pet-friendly landscaping, private patios with personal fire hydrants, and other features that add value to their master’s property with many buyers.
At the time, Realtor.com listed a Victorian dog house that matched a $10,995,000 California home, a heated doghouse with a deluxe dog run adjoining a $520,000 listing in Idaho, and a secluded cottage built just for dogs with a $524,000 house in Illinois.
“Pets have become important members of the family, and their needs are often high on the list of must-haves for many buyers, sometimes even higher than priorities of the two-legged members of the family,” says, Eileen Healy at Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Colorado. “Calling out features or local pet-friendly amenities can make or break a buyer’s interest in a particular property.”