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Daily Real Estate News  |  March 1, 2007  |   It Pays to Cater to Dog Owners
Love dogs? If yes, then you already have a lot in common with your prospects and clients.

A recent study by the American Kennel Club reveals that "dog ownership heavily influences both lifestyle and purchasing habits," says Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club. "If you don’t understand how important a dog is to a family, it will be hard to understand how pet ownership affects lifestyle.”

Owning a dog and owning a home go hand in hand, according to the club's recent study of purebred dog owners. Approximately 86 percent of all purebred dog owners, and 91 percent of active the club's members, own their home.

“There are something like 73 million households who own dogs, so that’s a lot of people who are going to think about dogs when they buy a house or upgrade,” Peterson says.

Owners of multiple dogs are significantly more likely to own their own home as are owners registered with the American Kennel Club for 10 or more years.

Spending on Pets Surges

The study also showed that 88 percent of dog owners consider their pet a beloved family member. That may explain why Americans are spending more money than ever on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, which predicts higher levels of pet ownership and related spending in future years.

Dogs even got their due at the recent International Builders Show, where one concept house featured a special jetted tub for pet washing.

When it comes to real estate, dog ownership influences a number of choices, including location, floor plans, yard size, and more. For example, two-thirds of American Kennel Club members fence their yards in some way, while others say they might look for a house that makes it easy for them to take their dog out in the morning.

Pet-loving buyers new to the area will want to know about dog friendly parks and walking paths as well as nearby services such as doggy daycare, says Peterson.

Building a Pet Niche

Already some practitioners are capitalizing on American's love of pets. For example, The Pet Realty Network in Naples, Fla., has created a searchable online database of pet-friendly home listings and real estate professionals around the country. If you're looking to provide personalized service for pet owners, follow these tips:
  • Be in the know about zoning ordinances regarding pets as well as fences. Ditto for condo docs and home owner association regulations.
  • Find out about the status of any legislation in the community that might outlaw certain breeds.
  • Plan ahead of time with sellers as to how dogs should be handled during showings. Peterson suggests making sure they’re enclosed in a specific room or area, so there isn’t any danger of them escaping. This strategy also allows you to concentrate on showing the house, not corralling canines.

By Camilla McLaughlin for REALTORŪ Magazine Online

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