Homes fit for your best friend

Pups are part of the family — here’s how to choose a dog-friendly home and ’hood

By Marilyn Kennedy Melia CTW Features

When architect Chris Rose first meets with clients, “One of the first questions I ask is, ‘Where do you feed the dog?’”

Based in Charleston, S.C., Rose says he works “in an area with a relaxed lifestyle, and it seems like everyone either has dogs or ‘grand-dogs.’”

We’re a canine-loving nation, says Lori Burger, senior vice president at Eugene Burger Management Corp., apartment management company in Rohnert Park, Calif. And whether it’s custom seaside homes or urban apartment communities, we’re catering to man’s best friend with special amenities, like low kitchen cabinet drawers that discreetly hold feeding bowls and doormen bearing doggie treats.

Of course, some pet owners prefer cats, but when it comes to the impact on their owners’ housing, dogs rule. Although, as an architect, Rose has had a few feline-related requests, “Cats seem like they slip away and don’t need as much,” he says.

Here, a closer look at the convergence of canines and real estate.

Welcome mat

When renters are searching for an apartment, it’s far less likely that they’ll see “no pets allowed” prohibitions nowadays, notes Raylene Lewis of Century 21 Beal in College Station, Texas. Even when there is a ban, “the tenant can ask if it’s permissible to have his dog,” says Terri Sponburgh of RE/MAX Suburban, Libertyville, Ill.

“I am seeing more willingness to accept pets as long as there is a pet deposit,” adds Becky Babcock of ERA Sunrise, Canton, Ga., who adds that may mean an extra $300 to $500 in an initial deposit to cover possible pet-related damage.

Not only do far more apartment complexes allow dogs, many go to extra lengths for dog-owners, like adding fenced-in dog parks and washing stations for cleaning dirty paws and grooming, Burger says.

Paws here

In dog-friendly homes, one of the most favored amenities is a cabinet drawer that, when pulled out, offers a place that Fido finds easy to reach. It eliminates the bowls sitting on the floor, inevitably causing humans to knock them over, Rose says.

In mud rooms or laundry rooms, a raised tub that is counter-high doubles as a dog-washing station and utility sink, he adds. Doggie doors built into a back door are convenient for homeowners, but often become worn-looking, Lewis says.

Beware of dog

While dog lovers abound, real estate agents warn that home sellers should keep the pooch away when potential buyers tour the house.

“Even when it’s cute,” Babcock says, “the buyers can be distracted and pay more attention to the dog than the house.”

If sellers can’t take their dog out of the house for showings, crating or keeping it in a back room, like a laundry room, is a solution. But, even when the pooch is out of sight, it may not be out of earshot or sniff distance, and that can discourage buyers.

“I’ve had people who say they have allergies or hear loud barking and get scared and want to get out,” says James Plaster, broker with ERA Tradewind Real Estate, Boulder, Colo.

Fur friendly

On the flip side, agents say that just as homebuyers with children look for good neighborhood schools, buyers who own dogs like to know of nearby walking trails and dog parks.

“We will mention dog parks in listings,” Lewis says. “Sometimes, too, if there is good doggie daycare nearby we will tell [buyers].”

Fenced-in yards are another selling point for canine buyers, Lewis adds. Moreover, she has seen dog owners bypass homes on busy streets for their pup’s protection.

“Dogs are members of the family and some will do everything they can for them,” she says.

© CTW Features