Millennials are the fastest-growing pet-keeping demographic in the country. Research shows that 73% of this demographic have a pet.
They are also at the age when homeownership becomes important. When millennials look into buying a home or even choosing their next rental, their pets are often the most important factor in that huge home purchase or move.
According to a recent CNBC report, millennial homebuyers will actually pass up the otherwise “perfect” home if it isn’t perfect for their pets.
Outdoor Spaces to Luxury Amenities
Whether it be an appropriately sized backyard, proper fencing or even a dog run on the roof of a luxury apartment building, millennial home buyers often make the dog’s needs a priority. (More on cats later.)
Millennials will also renovate or add fencing to a new home to make sure it’s safe for the pets. This is no small expense.
Many of my millennial clients actually have an aging pet if they acquired the pet in their 20s. Realtors report that these young people will consider the needs of the aging pet over their own, like fewer stairs or safe floor surfaces for an older dog.
Millennials reported that when they choose a house and/or neighborhood, they think about living in a friendly pet culture, near like-minded pet lovers or near a dog park.
Say, for instance, you are in a condo association that allows dogs, but many of the residents don’t like the pet-friendly policy. They can look at your dog pooping as if she’s dropping a bomb on the pristine lawn. Even if you are armed, as I always am on the streets of New York, with a plastic poop bag waving in the breeze for everyone to see, who wants to be around dog haters?
My Greenwich Village neighborhood and apartment building are very pet-friendly, and we are only 1 block from Washington Square Park, where my dog can perch on a park bench, ears pricked at full attention, and enjoy a staring contest with the local friendly squirrels.
On average, 10 to 20 people will ask me about my unique-looking mutt and watch her watching squirrels on most days.
Doormen and Elevators
The primary doorman in my building is from Colombia and calls Cocoa “Coquito.” He knew her name before mine and gives her a bigger welcome than he gives me.
Another doorman is afraid of dogs. I’m working with him slowly. Cocoa is a great trainer dog, being 19 pounds of wag and giggles. My mission is to make this doorman more comfortable around dogs, but I respect his fear and go slowly.
The dog-friendly culture of my building enriches my life and Cocoa’s, even if the 17-year-old Sheltie from the 15th floor hates her and the elevator ride is a growl fest.
Then there is the amazingly goofy Doberman on the 11th floor who really wants to get up in her privates all the way to the lobby. Our daily elevator adventures are enriching all around.
Millennials and Cats
For many millennials, a cat is their first pet. I’ve had a number of clients choose a home because they wanted to build or buy an enclosed outdoor space for their cats.
Not living near barking dogs so the cats can have a safe and serene space is also important. I even had a client sell her house because it was too near a rooster crowing that upset the cats and dogs. The town would not rule against the rooster, so she moved.
What about indoor cats? I once bought a house because there was a beautiful built-in litter box station where a washer/dryer unit used to be. My cats loved to go into their cabinet and play in their litter closet. Truth be told, the crazy litter box situation was as important to me as the kitchen.
Pets Before Children
Millennials tend to be having children later than previous generations, but they have pets. The millennial demographic popularized terms like “fur children” and “furbabies.” Instead of 3 bedrooms for kids, in other words, their priorities for a first home purchase might be all about the furbabies.
I find my millennial clients are highly educated about their pets and often understand more about the responsibility of pet keeping than other generations. The pets are not an addition to a growing family for many millennials — the pets are the family.
Check out this news item that discusses this very topic:
This millennial trend of placing the pets’ needs first is something close to my heart. Mainly because, way back when, I made some mistakes.
There was my first home purchase, a row house in South Philly with connecting 10 x 10 cement blocks for backyards. I thought I could be outside in my concrete cell with my cat and give her some outdoor time.
One day, she jumped up over the wall before I could catch her. She was returned by a very angry neighbor who threw her back at me (she wasn’t hurt) and said if he ever saw her peeing in his tomato plants again, he would shoot her.
Then there was my first move to “the country.” Being a New York girl, I thought my dogs could run free a little in the great outdoors. They were returned to me by the local police, who said this was dangerous to motorists, and they could shoot my dogs if this ever happened again. Seems like the shooting thing was making an impression on my dense brain.
But keeping pets safe and enjoying pet-friendly neighborhoods and lifestyles seem to be important to most millennials. I wish I had been so smart when I was 29.
Millennials are a great, pet-loving generation. I’m thrilled to have so many as clients.