New data from Zillow, a Seattle-based real-estate company, found that the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more people to adopt pets during the lockdown, and that decision is now driving owners to purchase properties with their pets in mind.
Zillow's 2021 Consumer Housing Trends Report finds nearly three-quarters of home buyers report having at least one pet at home (73%), a big jump from the 64% of buyers who reported having a pet in 2020.
The report found that pet owners are more likely to buy larger homes with more bedrooms—36% purchased a house with at least four bedrooms, compared to 24% of buyers without pets.
The research also found that private, fenced-in, outdoor space was a big attractor for pet owners with 73% of buyers saying that outdoor space is extremely important compared to people without pets (65%).
"Pets are widely considered part of the American family, so it follows that they can factor into moving decisions," says Manny Garcia, a population scientist at Zillow. "This research shows an increase in pet ownership among recent movers and suggests that pets can impact housing preferences. In some cases, they may even be the catalyst for a move, along with other factors, such as remote work and shifting family priorities."
While people moving during the pandemic have been moving into larger, more affordable houses in general, pet-owning buyers are typically younger (41- versus 47-year-olds), they are also more likely to have children, which may explain why they are more likely to purchase homes with extra bedrooms.
Previous research done by Zillow and Rover specifically on dog owners found that the majority of owners (62%) said they would consider moving to a new home to better accommodate their dog. Another companion report from 202, also by Zillow, found that certain pet-friendly features can contribute to a higher sale price or a faster-than-expected sale. Homes that advertise a custom doghouse in their listing description can sell for 3% more than expected, while homes advertising a fenced backyard or a dog run can sell up to five days faster.
Renters also increased their pet ownership during the pandemic, but at a slower pace than homebuyers. 57% of renters reported owning a pet in 2021 compared to 51% in 2020.