Did you know that there are currently more households with pets than children? According to the US Census, the proportion of families with children under the age of 18 living at home has continued to decline. The proportion with children in 2022 will be 40%, up from 48% in 2002. This is likely for two reasons: birth rates have generally fallen (apart from the increase over the past year), and there is a high proportion of babies boomer households whose children have left the nest.
While the number of children in American households has declined over the past 20 years, pet ownership has steadily increased. According to the American Pet Products Association, 70% of American households own a pet, usually a dog or cat. This is up from 56% in 1988. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans adopted pets for companionship and entertainment.
Americans invest a lot of time and resources in their animals. According to the BLS American Time Use Survey, the proportion of Americans spending time with their pets — and the amount of time they spend — has both increased. In 2003, 13.2% of Americans spent time with pets on a daily basis. In 2021, that share will have grown to 19.7% in total and 22.8% of women. The amount of time spent with pets has increased from 0.62 hours in 2003 to 0.77 hours in 2021. In addition, the money Americans spend on pets has more than doubled in the past decade. According to the American Pet Products Association, total pet industry spending in the US has grown from $53.3 billion in 2012 to $123.6 billion in 2021.
Given the increased proportion of pets in households and the increased time and resources devoted to pets, it’s no surprise that some buyers view their pets as one of the most important factors in making home buying decisions. Factors such as proximity to the vet and outdoor space are important for buyers with pets. Among unmarried couples, nearly a third of buyers considered their pet when choosing a neighborhood, compared to 14% of married couples. A quarter of single women considered their pet in their choice of neighborhood compared to 16% of single men.
Those buyers who viewed their pet as very important to their neighborhood choice were also more likely to search for neighborhood features with pets in mind. Animal lovers were more likely to purchase a home in an area with larger lots or acreage, convenience of parks and recreation areas, and walkability. This is no surprise since pet owners, particularly dog owners, are often looking for nearby properties and features that give their furry friends room to run and play.
For more home buyer trends and recent activity, view the full profile of 2022 home buyers and sellers at https://www.nar.realtor.com.