What does owning a pet say about you? Living with a furry (or scaly) friend could mean that you're a college student craving companionship, that your young children are in need of a four–legged playmate, or that you're an empty-nester with an affinity for fish. But what if owning a pet could predict if you're more likely to rent or own a home?
Researchers at the Urban Institute recently looked at the data from its 2017 American Housing Survey (AHS) in a way that shines new light on America's love for animals. According to the Urban Institute, the 2017 survey asked if respondents "would need help with their pets in case of a disaster." In addition to affirmative and negative options, there was also the option to say the respondent did not own a pet (dog, cat, turtle, goldfish, etc.). This question was also asked in the 2013 AHS survey, allowing the researchers to dive into the data and uncover some trends.
What the Urban Institute found probably isn't too surprising. For instance, pet ownership in a household is at its highest when the head of the home is in their 40s; and married adults are more likely to own a pet (57%) compared to their single counterparts (43%).
It gets more interesting when you start comparing renters vs. homeowners. The researchers found that homeowners are more likely than renters to have pets... a lot more likely. Again, it may not be that surprising as many rentals have pet restrictions — but homeowners are a full 20% more likely to own pets than renters. (57% compared to 37%). That's a significant gap and likely not a coincidence.
And according to a Realtor.com report earlier this year, 80% of recent homebuyers owned pets, so expect those numbers to increase in the next AHS survey. Man's best friend? More like homeowner's best friend.