Property decisions with pets in mind is a growing trend in Australia as many buyers are looking out for their 4-legged friends first. It comes as no surprise as pet ownership in Australia’s major cities is at an all time high. In fact, as of 2016, 62% of households owned a pet according to the RSPCA.
While the rental market is struggling to keep up with the demand for pet-friendly property, many owners are looking to buy to accommodate their pet-friendly lifestyle. If you fall into that category, there are a few things to consider when buying a property to ensure you and your furry friend will live happily ever after.
Be aware of bylaws
Apartments and townhouses are an attractive buying option for those looking for inner city convenience and lower prices; however, not all properties allow pets. If you’re eyeing up an inner city apartment, ask the agent for a copy of the bylaws to check if the building is pet-friendly.
For most newer buildings (post 2016), pets are allowed. Older properties may be a bit more difficult. If they do allow pets, they may be subject to difficult strata approval that can be a lengthy process. It’s also worth keeping your eye out for other pets in the building as this can be a good sign. Though, keep in mind that it’s never a guarantee.
If your prospective property is pet-friendly, read all of the fine print. Some bylaws may allow pets but could put restrictions on the type of size of any animal living in the building.
Get the right size — indoors and out
Most pet owners looking to buy a new home set their sights firmly on the size of the yard, but don’t forget to look at the interiors as well.
If your animal loves the great outdoors, swathes of green grass are great. Choose a home that offers plenty of space to run and play outside. If your pet is more of an indoor animal, it’s important to look at functional floorplans that will suit your needs. You and your pet will feel cramped if you choose a stuffy little home where they’re always underfoot. Consider open floor plans that offer some space to move around unhindered.
It’s also worth considering your pet’s access to the outdoors. This may not be much of an issue if you’re looking at a freestanding home, but apartments on higher floors are another story. Think about how your pet will handle the lift, or running into other pets or people in the hallways getting in and out of the building.
Pet-friendly landscaping is a thing
For those that must have a yard, you’ll want to spend some time investigating the garden to make sure it’s a good fit. One of the main priorities for many pet owners is having the space for their animals to stretch and sniff. A good sized yard allows the opportunity for curious furry friends to be stimulated.
An initial assessment on the size of the yard is a great place to start. Then you’ll want to look at the fencing. Is the property fenced, or will you need to pay to get it fenced? If it is fenced, what is the quality of the fence? Will it be secure enough for your curious pet?
Next, consider the plant life in your yard. Some plants, their leaves and/or seeds can be quite toxic for household pets. Search the yard thoroughly to see if you’ll need to do any major landscaping after move-in to make it safe for your animals.
Speaking of animals, is there any local wildlife? It’s important to not only consider your animals safety, but the safety of native wildlife as well. Are there any birds or small rodents that will clash with your furry friend? You’ll also want to watch out for snakes, lizards, toads, spiders and parasites that may be a hazard in overgrown yards, bushland or rural areas.
Not all interiors are created equal
Last but certainly not least, it’s worth looking at the finishes within the home to ensure they’re hard wearing and pet-resistant. While this is less of an issue — they can be replaced after all — it’s worth saving yourself the time and money of changing them if you can.
The first major thing to think about is flooring. Hardwood floors or light-coloured carpets are beautiful but difficult to maintain if you have dogs and cats running through your house everyday. Think about durable flooring materials such as bamboo, tiles, polished concrete or scratch-resistant vinyl.
You’ll also want to think about interior stairs, security screens and blinds or shades (and their chords).
Location, location, location
As with buying any property, location is an important factor when it comes to finding the right pet-friendly property. You want to make sure you’re looking at an area that you and your pet will enjoy.
One of the biggest considerations should be local traffic. If the property you’re interested in is on a major road, you may want to think twice. Excess noise can cause anxiety in animals, and fast moving traffic can be hazardous should your animal escape.
Look into how close the nearest greenspace is and if it’s pet-friendly. This is especially important if you’re looking at an apartment or townhouse that may not have a lot of outdoor space. Dog owners will want to be close to a park where their animal is welcome to run around (on-leash or off).
Finally, how close are the animal amenities such as an animal hospital or vet. Being within close proximity to these services can make life a whole lot easier.