Real estate professionals are increasingly targeting pet owners in their marketing, hoping to capitalize on the growing share of buyers who are shopping for a home that meets their animals’ needs. Some agents are putting photos of themselves with their pets on business cards, online listings and marketing materials, and they may even frequent dog parks to form new business connections.
As the number of families with children under 18 has steadily fallen over the last 20 years, pets have gained more influence in homebuying decisions. So, it makes good business sense to cater to this segment of the market. “Given the increased share of pets in households and the increased time and resources spent on pets, it is no surprise some home buyers consider their pets the most important factor when making homebuying decisions,” writes Jessica Lautz, deputy chief economist and vice president of research at the National Association of REALTORS®. “Factors such as proximity to the vet and outdoor space for pets is important for buyers.”
Real estate agent Adie Kriegstein of Compass in New York owns a white Labrador Retriever named Philbin, who has become her wingman when prospecting. “As a dog owner, the warmer months are a great time to get out there and meet other dog owners,” Kriegstein says. “I am always sharing my market knowledge of construction in the area, and I have business cards advertising that I am a ‘pet-friendly specialist’ here in the city.”
She also finds dog training classes to be good venues to connect with others. It’s an opportune moment, Kriegstein says, to bond with like-minded people—and mention what you do for a living, too. This is an example of a “soft sell,” she adds.
Kriegstein’s dog—a certified psychiatric service dog that is trained to work with people who have mental illnesses or learning disabilities—also provides her an opportunity to give back to her community. Kriegstein volunteers with The Good Dog Foundation and brings Philbin to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities around town.
“People know my dog more than me,” she jokes.
Philbin even has his own Instagram page featuring pictures of the white lab at New York hot spots and in Kriegstein’s listings. One recent post shows Philbin sitting on a chair with a caption that reads: “There’s no reason why when picking out an apartment, your pet cannot live their best life, too!” The caption goes on to talk about the listing’s prime location and amenities, touting a rooftop dog run.
Kadee French, an agent with Keller Williams Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., has turned her beloved pet, Kiah, a Cavachon poodle, into the mascot for her real estate business. French creates funny social media memes featuring Kiah dressed up in costumes to coordinate with holidays.
Top Cities for Pet Owners
Nearly 70% of American households have a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. That is up significantly from 56% in 1988.
But some areas of the country show more fondness for pets than others. Forbes Advisor recently compared 90 of the biggest cities in the U.S. to identify the most pet-friendly metros. For their rankings, they weighed factors like the area’s veterinary access, costs and the number of pet-friendly spaces and buildings.
Topping the list as the best cities in 2023 for pet owners:
- Tucson, Ariz.
- Raleigh, N.C.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Wichita, Kan.