If you are one of the 69.1 million homeowners in the United States that own at least one pet, chances are your pets have been - or will soon become - an important factor when buying or selling Real Estate. Pet spending in the United States alone reached approximately $38.4 billion in 2006, and it is therefore no surprise that pet owners consider their pets a part of the family. So where do you start if you are looking to buy or sell Real Estate with pets in mind, and what do you need to do to prepare to buy or sell a Pet Friendly home?
Step One: Finding an Agent
When it comes to shopping for a Real Estate Professional, there are many places to start. As of December 2006, there were over 2 million Real Estate Agents across the United States. With approximately 75% of people turning to the Internet to start their Real Estate Search, you go to your favorite search engine and depending on your search results you have to sort through the clutter of hundreds or thousands of Real Estate Websites. All the Web sites start looking the same and you quickly become bored or even frustrated. So how do you sort through the confusion to choose an Agent that’s right for you and understands your specific Pet Friendly needs?
Getting to know the specialties of a Pet Friendly Real Estate Agent is an important, but sometimes a difficult thing to do. This all comes down to the Agent’s ability to set themselves apart in the competitive Real Estate market and be the expert in their area of specialization. There are few “Pet Friendly” Agents in today’s market that are marketing themselves in the most effective way. It is even more difficult to find a Pet Friendly Agent who specializes in your town or city.
If pets are an important factor in your Real Estate decisions you need to find a Resource that is dedicated just to Pets and Pet Friendly Real Estate. www.PetRealtyNetwork.com is a good example of a Pet Friendly Real Estate Website – dedicated to Pet Friendly Real Estate and Pet Friendly Real Estate Agents. You can meet other Pet Friendly Agents in your town, across town, or even across the Country and even obtain information about other Pet Resources such as relocating with your pet or submitting your pet’s photo.
Step Two: Selling a Pet Friendly Property
When preparing a Pet Friendly property for sale, you have a big task ahead of you. It is important to make any property for sale as attractive as possible, but a Pet Friendly property can have a few more challenges. Pet hair has a tendency to find the deepest nooks and crannies in a home and if a home has a distinct pet odors, potential buyers may skip on the property. Your Pet Friendly Agent may suggest a few simple everyday maintenance chores that that can add to the appeal of your property.
- Vacuuming and cleaning your carpets and even your furniture on a regular basis will remove pet hair and dander and is a quick and simple step to keep your home looking neat. To reduce the amount of hair to be vacuumed, make a habit of brushing your pet regularly, which will also keep your pet’s coat healthy.
- Keep up on your ‘Doggy Duty’, which means keeping your yard clean at all times! To a potential buyer a dirty yard could equate with a dirty home.
- Keeping litter boxes clean and covered. Cat urine is a very distinct and difficult smell to eliminate. Keep the litter box in a well ventilated area, clean the litter box often, and consider an odor-reducing kitty litter.
- Have a plan for open houses or scheduled showings of your home. Some people are terrified of animals or even allergic. It is best to remove the pet from your home during a showing or an open house. If that is not possible, or would be stressful for your pet, consider keeping your pet in a crate or ask a friend or relative to pet sit.
- De-clutter your home, including pet toys, pet beds and crates and pet photos. Remember that even if you are Pet Friendly, a potential buyer may not be.
Step Three: Buying a Pet Friendly Property
You can expect your Pet Friendly Agent to be the Pet Friendly Real Estate expert. That means being knowledgeable about everything about a Property from the fenced yard to the local pet parks and Veterinary clinics. After all, you are not just looking for a home is suitable for you but for your whole family - pets included. A Pet Friendly Agent will start by asking you some initial qualifying questions: Are you a dog owner, cat owner, horse or farm owner? The following are examples of a few other topics you can expect that your Pet Friendly Agent will discuss with you:
- Pet Restrictions. You will commonly find pet restrictions in condominiums or deed-restricted neighborhoods. It is critical that you and your Pet Friendly Agent know ahead of time what those restrictions are, if any. They may include the number of pets, size of pet, breed restrictions (even for mixed breeds!) or parking restrictions for horse trailers.
- Veterinary Clinics, Specialty and Emergency Hospitals. In the event of an emergency, it is critical to be close to a 24 hour Emergency Hospital. Luckily, an increasing number of Emergency Hospitals also double as Specialty Hospitals. With the advancement of Veterinary Medicine, you can now provide the very best care for your pet if he or she requires specialty or emergency care and the convenience of a local Hospital may mean life or death for your pet.
- Pet Amenities. The everyday conveniences of safe walking or horse trails, stables, doggy pick-up stations, grooming and boarding facilities, and fenced in exercise areas are great examples of what makes an ordinary property a Pet Friendly property.
- Evacuation. If the potential property you are interested in purchasing is in a natural disaster Evacuation zone, would you have an Evacuation plan for your pets? Evacuation involves a great deal of preparation, especially for horses, and there is usually little notice of an impending disaster. You must be willing to prepare a solid Evacuation plan in place to ensure the safety of your pets.
Step Four: Moving Day
You have found your perfect agent, sold or purchased your Pet Friendly Property, and now it is time to pack up and move. Whether you are moving across town, across country or from another country – you have a big task ahead of you. Preparation is key to a successful move, keeping your pet’s safety in mind:
- Identification. Rule #1 in moving with your pet is properly identifying your pet with an identification tag and sturdy collar. Make sure your pet’s tag includes your destination location and telephone number and a mobile number, so you can be reached easily. Your prior address or telephone number will be useless if you have already moved.
- Medications, Food, and Veterinary Records. Keep a current copy of your pet’s vaccinations in a convenient location and not packed away in the moving truck. If traveling is stressful for your pet, consult your veterinarian about ways that might lessen the stress of travel. Depending on your destination, your pet may also need additional vaccinations, medications, and health certificates. Keep at least one week’s worth of food and medication in case of emergency.
- Crates and Containment Systems. There are many different types of travel crates on the market, and many are lightweight and collapsible just for traveling purposes. Make sure your pet is familiar with the crate you will be using for transportation by gradually introducing him to the crate before your trip. Be sure the crate is sturdy enough for stress-chewers or he could make an escape.
- Traveling by car It is best to travel with your dog in a crate, but if your dog enjoys car travel, you may want to accustom him to a restraining harness. For your safety as well as theirs, it is ALWAYS best to transport cats in a well-ventilated carrier. Never keep your pet in the open bed of a truck, or the storage area of a moving van. In any season, a pet left alone in a parked vehicle is vulnerable to being injured, harmed or stolen. Plan ahead by searching for pet friendly hotels to find overnight lodging during your move, and have plenty of kitty litter and plastic bags on hand for Doggy Duty.
- Keeping your pet secure. Pets can feel vulnerable on moving day. Keep your pet in a safe, quiet place, such as the bathroom on moving day with a PETS INSIDE sign on the door to keep off-limits to friends and professional movers.
- Air Travel. If traveling by air, first check with the airline about any pet requirements or restrictions to be sure you have prepared your pet to be safe and secure during the trip. Give yourself plenty of time to work out any arrangements necessary including consulting with your veterinarian, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Preparing your new home. Keep in mind that your pets may be frightened and confused in new surroundings. To reduce the chance of escaping due to fear, or pure excitement to explore the new territory, prepare all the familiar and necessary things your pet will need from day one including food, water, medications, bed, litter box, food and water bowls.