Sniffing Around For a New Home?

by Angela Galioto

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If you have dogs, you’ll want to take their needs into account when you’re looking to buy a house. Even if your fur babies are easygoing, certain homes and neighborhoods are more pet friendly than others, and finding the right one can help you find your happily ever after.

To find the perfect home for you and your pets, consider asking your realtor these five key questions that homebuyers often overlook.

1. WHAT ARE THE LOCAL PET LAWS?

Even if you own a piece of property, it’s no guarantee that your pets will be welcome there. Depending on the number of pets you own and their breed, there may be restrictions within the city, HOA, or condo development. Even if a condo says it’s pet friendly, it’s best to check the fine print, because there could be restrictions on the size, breed, and number of pets allowed. Most homeowner associations and condo associations do have pet regulations. It’s essential to ask your agent to provide that information for you ahead of time.

One caveat to any local pet laws are assistance animals. An assistance animal is not a pet and is not required to conform to HOA pet policies. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the Fair Housing Act nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified. While dogs are the most common type, other animals can also be assistance animals.

2. DOES THE HOME HAVE A FENCED-IN YARD?

Having a yard for your pets can make pet ownership much more enjoyable. It’s a place to exercise and play with your dog and a relaxing outdoor space he can call his own. If the home is in an HOA community, you will need approval on the type of fencing you choose.

3. IS THE NEIGHBORHOOD GOOD FOR EXERCISING AND EXPLORING?

With dogs, finding a location that’s good for walks is key. That might mean being close to a park, trail, or other green space and having sidewalks with grass for everyday bathroom walks. Be careful about choosing a home on a busy road or highway, a real danger for dogs that may run out or cats that like to roam. And ask about the local wildlife—in some areas, proximity to a green space means being closer to coyotes, etc. If you have a dog, bring it to any home you’re considering, so you can take a walk through the neighborhood, ideally at the time of day you typically would walk your dog. Keep an eye out for any aggressive dogs nearby who may cause trouble. You don’t want to live next door to a bully!

4. DOES THE HOUSE HAVE A PET-FRIENDLY FLOOR PLAN?

Consider your pet’s comforts, both inside and outside the home. Is the house big enough for your dog’s breed? Will your pet be happier with carpeting or tiled floors? Your pet needs space to play and eat, to store his bed and toys, and to interact with other dogs and people.

5. HOW MANY STAIRS WILL MY PET NEED TO CLIMB?

If you’re looking at a multilevel home, consider whether your dog will be able to safely manage the stairs, particularly as they age. As dogs get older, they can develop joint problems that make it difficult for them to climb up and down.

Realtor Angela Galioto can be reached at 949-274-0977 or agalioto@bdhomes.com.

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