May 16 2023

What Zoomers want in a home—and how to find it

buying your first home
buying your first home

If you’re a Zoomer buying your first home: This new survey speaks volumes. Fur babies reign supreme.

What matters most when buying your first home? According to Gen Z homebuyers—those ages 18 to 26—it’s not kids or partners. It’s pets.

“More Gen Z pet owners would want to move if their home was no longer working for their pet than if it was no longer working for their partner,” Zillow’s recent survey says.

Whether Gen Z or otherwise, prioritizing pets spans generations. For varying reasons, more households in the U.S. now have pets than children.

Gen Z buyers are hunting for houses with these features

buying your first home

The survey shows that Gen Z homebuyers:

  • Feel that a fenced yard is essential – 48 percent
  • Would move if their home no longer met their pet’s needs – 22 percent
  • Would rather share their primary bedroom with a pet than a partner – 13 percent

It’s clear that Gen Z homebuyers value their pets. Almost half of Zoomers would look for a home with a fenced yard compared to one with a playroom (at 24 percent). Nearly a quarter of Gen Z buyers would move to better accommodate their pet, while only 12 percent would do this for a partner.

Sound familiar?

If you’re buying your first home with one or more pets, here are a few tips on finding a house with the right features:

1. Start with the neighborhood.

Drive into a neighborhood you have your eye on and take a walk around. (Preferably, with your pet.) If you’re a cat mom or dad, a neighborhood may not matter as much. But if you have a pup you plan to walk, you want to know you’re buying your first home in a pet-friendly area.

A pet-friendly neighborhood might have plenty of sidewalks, green space, and even a dog park. You may also appreciate having other pet owners nearby. Close proximity to a veterinarian, animal hospital, groomer, and dog-friendly restaurants or bars is worth noting.

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2. Check out the floorplan.

Now that you’ve found an ideal neighborhood, it’s time to start hunting for a house. Getting *pre-approved for a mortgage will tell you how much house you can afford so you don’t waste time shopping in the wrong price range. With this information, you can begin filtering houses in your desired area based on pet-friendly features.

An easy way to do this is by looking at a home’s layout—or floorplan if it’s been added to a listing. You might need extra room for pet toys, beds, and crates. Indoor pets, like cats, rabbits, and others, may benefit from their own play area. Steep stairs and carpet could be a no-go for an older pet. For outdoor pets, yard size and layout are important considerations.

3. Inspect the fence.

Another Zillow survey finds that a home with a fenced-in backyard may sell nearly three days faster. Proud pet parents are the reason why.

As you tour a home or look at listing photos, make sure a yard’s fence is in good shape. Obvious holes and missing boards may need to be repaired by the seller. Low fences might not work for a large dog that can jump. When you visit a house, also note neighboring pets; are there other dogs close by, and do they bark frequently enough to agitate yours?

4. Don’t count a condo out.

If you’re struggling with affordability, it might make sense to consider a condo—and trade up later—when buying your first home. For dog owners, a condo may seem like a bad fit. A condo will typically come with an HOA, which is an added monthly cost. However, this HOA covers amenities that might include a Bark Park. For cat owners, a condo with a porch could be the perfect place for a catio.

When shopping for a condo or home that includes an HOA, it’s important to read the bylaws carefully. Some HOAs may have breed restrictions or regulations that limit the number of pets.

5. Use a pet-friendly agent.

If you want to prioritize your pet’s happiness when buying your first home, you want an agent who gets it. Some real estate agents market themselves as pet-friendly. If you can’t find a pet-friendly agent in your area, contact your local Academy Loan Officer. They might have some referrals that can help.

Ideally, an agent should understand you and your pet’s needs, know what type of housing and neighborhoods will meet those needs, and filter your home search to match. They might look out for homes upgraded to accommodate pets, like those with custom pet doors and feeding and washing stations. An agent may also have helpful contacts for local doggie daycares, groomers, and vets.

Are you looking for pet-friendly homes?

Your local Academy Loan Officer can help you take the first step and get *pre-approved for a mortgage. This will empower you to start shopping smart in your price range. If you’re in need of a pet-accommodating Realtor, your Loan Officer can also refer you to a skilled agent.

*Pre-approval is not a commitment to lend. Please consult a trusted professional as personal circumstances may vary. No specific results are guaranteed. Not all applicants will qualify. MAC424-1486456.