A New Home for Fido…And the Rest of the Family

Anyone who owns a pet knows: a pet is family. And when you’re the parent of a pet and considering a move, you want to be sure your new home and neighborhood are pet-friendly.

Start by Googling pet-friendly neighborhoods. A million sites appear with blogs, maps, and articles to help you find your way. Studies show that bringing pets to work improves productivity and decreases sick time; and studies prove that pets increase longevity and decrease the effects of chronic illnesses. Other benefits include community forums, neighborhood pet parties, pet chat rooms, and even pet-friendly dating services.

Most of these can be excellent information sources. But when it comes to the actual living space, you may want to consider a few questions. Are there too many stairs for an elderly pet to climb? Too many rugs to keep clean and hair-free? Or are the floors too slippery for a pet’s comfort? Is there easy access to a safe, fenced-in play space? Safe routes for a long, leisurely walk?

When you’re satisfied the living space is appropriate, check out the local ordinances and, if you’re condo-bound, read the homeowners association rules, which may limit the number, species, or size of pets.

To be sure Fluffy or Fido is in a healthy environment, investigate the municipal codes, including vaccination and licensing requirements; local animal control service websites are good places to start.

Then, take yourself for a walk.

In a recent article in RISMedia, author Drake Ernest suggests you search for signs the neighborhood welcomes furry family members. Are there dog-friendly restaurants? Do shopkeepers keep doggie water bowls out in the summer and welcome the well-behaved pooch into their stores? Are there nearby veterinary services, cat sitters, dog walkers, an off-leash dog park?

Once you’ve done your homework, you can be sure your new home will be right for all your family members.

Attention Buyers: It Pays to Think Like Your Seller

Buyers who know how to think like a seller are ahead of the game. They’ll understand a homeowner’s bias; they’ll be more comfortable with negotiating, knowing it’s just another human being on the other side; and best of all, they may even save themselves money – just by being prepared.

Understanding bias

Often pride of ownership outweighs a seller’s objectivity; someone who has lived in the home for a while likely has an attachment to the property that could skew his or her sense of the home’s worth. This also happens when substantial improvements have been made to the property and the seller expects to recoup this investment in the sale price.

Bringing ‘reality’ to the table

Buyers – particularly if they are now or have been sellers themselves – will “get” this. But that’s not to say they’ll agree with the sellers’ valuation. Instead, with the help of their agent (and maybe some effort on the part of the listing agent to bring “reality” to the discussion) they’ll reference area comparables indicating the true market value of those improvements.

Condition savvy

Smart buyers will also know that sellers may attempt to cover up condition problems, and will walk around the foundation or check for evidence of water damage during the Open House.

Despite appearances, the seller does want to end up at the closing table. And he or she will have a good idea of what must be done to get there. The smart buyer will know this and be prepared for some degree of compromise.