Is the millennial homebuying surge about finally "growing up" and giving up mom's home-cooked meals and laundry services? Is it about finally having student loans paid off and feeling secure enough to take on the financial burden? Perhaps it's really about getting ready to marry and have kids. Nope. Turns out none of these things could convince millennials to buy homes like their little furry friend could.
Yep, when it comes to millennial homeownership, these are the dog days.
"A third of millennial-aged Americans (ages 18 to 36) who purchased their first home (33%) say the desire to have a better space or yard for a dog influenced their decision to purchase their first home, according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage. "Dogs ranked among the top three motivators for first-time home purchasers and were cited by more millennials than marriage/upcoming marriage, 25 percent, or the birth/expected birth of a child, 19 percent."
There were only two factors that rated higher than dog ownership: 66 percent cited a desire for more living space, and 36 percent were interested in building equity through homeownership. Presumably, they want to do so with a pup by their side.
"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 President and CEO of the survey. "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 showed how strongly homebuyers that have not yet jumped into the market feel about this issue. Among millennials who have never purchased a home, "42 percent say that their dog - or the desire to have one - is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future, suggesting dogs will also influence purchase decisions of potential first-time homebuyers," they said.
Those statistics could have a real impact on multiple aspects of the real estate industry, from the way sellers stage their home; to the types of homes that builders and developers concentrate on in pockets where millennials may be looking; to pet-related homeowners' association bylaws that may be in need of review and revision. Most attached homes don't offer the kind of outdoor space millennials are looking for, but townhomes sometimes do, and they can be more affordable than single-family options; some communities have breed and size restrictions and also cap the number of dogs you can have - important considerations if you happen to be one of those dog-crazy millennial homebuyer types or are an agent who's representing one.
Looking to sell your home and think you have a millennial target in your sights? Perhaps pointing out a good spot for a doggy door, if you don't already have one, and adding a picture of you and your dog (fake it if you need to!), a dog bed, and a basket with dog toys on the fireplace hearth before showings will help.
Pets before kids
Homeownership isn't the only thing millennials have delayed. Marriage and kids - if they're in the cards at all for millennials - are waiting. Pet ownership is not.
Millennials are in age brackets that are commonly associated with the idea of "settling down," said Pet Business. "But, rather than starting families with children, millennials are instead opting for buying or adopting pets to satisfy their caretaking needs."
Pet ownership is up overall, led by millennials. The latest American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey shows that, "Sixty-eight percent of American households now own a pet, accounting for 84.6 million pet-owning households, up from 79.7 million pet-owning households in 2015," said Pet Food Industry. "Gen Y/millennial pet ownership has officially surpassed baby boomer ownership by three percentage points to now account for 35 percent of all pet owners."
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