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Family weekendPets are family. Ask anyone who has one. For this reason, you’ll add tremendous value to any home search you conduct when you stay informed and mindful of a few simple things on behalf of your clients with pets.

Familiarize yourself with local ordinances.

Every city has municipal codes that reference animals within their city limits. License tag requirements, rabies vaccination stipulations, leash laws, and restrictions on the types of animals allowed or the number of animals in a single dwelling—these are all the types of rulings that are in place for the sanitation, health, and safety of a community. Most city (or county) websites have their specific ordinances listed with their Animal Control Services so acquainting yourself with local pet-ownership laws is as easy as a few clicks.

Know the HOA rules.

The best option for clients who have pets is, more often than not, a single-family home because it offers the most freedom. However there are, on occasion, single-family home communities with a Homeowners Association (HOA). And if your client is looking at a townhome or a condominium, then you can be assured of HOA or townhome or condo board rules about pets.

Providing your client with a list of HOAs in your market that allows pets is the first valued step. The next genuine value to add is to provide your client with copies of the actual HOA bylaws regarding pets. HOAs routinely have requirements or restrictions beyond what the city or county decrees. They’ll typically govern things like what types of pets are allowed, not allowed (i.e., species, size, weight, number etc.), restricted areas on the property, and fines they may incur for violating the rules or bylaws. Get copies of these pet bylaws to your buyer who may be contemplating a move into one of these types of homes. Keeping your buyers informed keeps them a step ahead in their search, prevents misconceptions, and keeps you appreciated for it.

Be aware of your market’s “pet-friendly” neighborhoods.

What makes a neighborhood “pet friendly?” Just ask yourself a few of the following questions: Do you have neighborhoods in your market area with dog-friendly restaurants? Shopkeepers who keep doggie water bowls out in the summer and welcome the well-behaved pooch into their shop? Does your market area offer veterinary services? Pet-sitting? Grooming options? Perhaps there is an off-leash dog park? A nearby dog beach? A local pet food and supplies store? These are the things that constitute a pet-friendly neighborhood and any one of them is music to the ears of a client with pets.

Stay on top of the best places in your market area where pets are welcome from local kennels and doggie day cares to dog-friendly hiking trails and pet-friendly hotels. Know whom the best dog walkers and house sitters are in your market, too, so you can refer them to clients. Make a list of all of the above and keep it current. Your clients (and their pets) will thank you for it.

Have a pet-friendly consciousness while evaluating the actual property.

There are a few things to consider when looking for a home that will accommodate pets. If your clients have elderly pets, you will want them to be cognizant of vast hardwood flooring and/or a lot of stairs. Other clients with pets may want to avoid extensive carpeting due to pet hair and odor absorption although it’s fitting to note that deep cleaning a carpet for pet odors has markedly improved over the past few years. Clients with indoor cats will likely desire windows with screens. Others will look for an opportunity for a doggie door that will spill out to a decent-sized backyard. You may want to have a list of the properties in your market area that have fenced-in backyards as well as a list of handymen who could build a fence. Inspect the existing fence of a potential home to insure it is “doggie escape proof.” If you find that it isn’t, you may want to work with your buyers to decide whether or not making it so is a viable repair request to bring to the seller.

Ultimately, your clients with pets will be happiest when they purchase a home that accommodates the needs of their pets as well as their own. These are a few simple things that can help make that happen.

Kaya and ApolloDrake Ernest is a Business Development Manager with ReferralExchange in San Francisco. He lives nearby in a pet-friendly neighborhood with his two German Shepherds, Kaya and Apollo.

And, if you have clients and their pets  who are outside of your preferred area, price point or property type, ReferralExchange can help.  Please visit for more information, or email us at