Millennials are buying houses because they want their pets to have more space.

Jack Woodcock
Jack Woodcock
Published on August 3, 2017

It’s no secret that Millennials love dogs and now their four-legged friends are starting to influence the decisions they make about housing.

A recent survey by SunTrust Mortgage found that a third of Millennials who had already purchased their first home said they were influenced by the need to have space for a dog.

The survey asked recent home buyers why they were buying their first home and their dog was the third most commonly cited reason, coming above children and marriage. Only more living space and the opportunity to build equity came above the furry companions. 33 percent of millennials between ages 18 and 36 said that they considered canine-related features, such as a large fenced yard and dog-friendly neighborhoods, as a huge factor in buying their first home, while 25 percent cited marriage and just 19 percent said the birth of a child, according to a SunTrust Mortgage survey. 

“Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home-buying decisions,” said Dorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage CEO. “For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; home ownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation.”

The survey also found that 42% of Millennials who had never bought a home said that their dog, or the desire to have one, would be a key factor in their decision to get on the property ladder.

 Some may find the survey results surprising, but Rachel Wingard, a millennial first-time home-buyer, says the results signify that Millennials are thinking practically. 

“People were surprised at the dog statistic but it shows a level of responsibility that you’re caring for a living thing,” Wingard said. “It’s hard to think about children when you don’t have any, and owning a home doesn’t necessarily make marriage more plausible.”

That tendency on Millennials’ part to get married and have children later in life may explain in part why pets are such a big priority in home buying. Just 19% of survey respondents said the birth of their first child influenced their home purchasing decision. What’s more, pets can often be more difficult than children to house in a rental situation. One 2015 study by real-estate website Trulia found that it’s nearly impossible to rent in some cities with a dog and some landlords charge a pet fee (topping out at $427 in Washington, D.C.).

“Some rental properties don’t allow pets and most rental properties are limited in space,” Smith said. “There’s also an additional effort in keeping a dog in rental apartments.”

For example, in high rises, you have to leave the apartment, go on an elevator and then probably go out to a small confined dog-area space, versus a homeowner who just needs to let dogs out through the backdoor, which is a lot easier, Smith explained.

Many of the features first-time home buyers and dog owners are looking for in a house (big, fenced yards; walking-friendly neighborhoods; close proximity to a park; etc.) can also coincide with those of first-time home-buyers expecting a child, Wingard said. 

 The study found that 60 percent of first-time home buyers are Millennials. SunTrust officials expect that, within the next five years, 80 million millennials will embark on their house-hunting journey, said Smith of SunTrust Mortgage, noting that she believes many young people held off on such purchases during the financial crisis.

Millennials are buying houses because they want their pets to have more space.
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