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10 House-Hunting Lessons You Can Learn From Your Dog

Meghan Curry/Stocksy United
When it comes to real estate, Fido has more to teach you than you might think.

It’s no secret that dogs make great companions. Those little (and big) furballs offer undying devotion and unconditional love, hours of snuggling … and plenty of reasons to buy a really good vacuum cleaner.

But Fido can also offer life lessons — if you’re paying attention. To celebrate National Pet Month (woof!), here are 10 house-hunting lessons your favorite canine can teach you.

1. Sniff out problems

My golden retriever mix, Murphy, once detected a litter of kittens in our crawl space — he smelled them through the floor.

Kittens might not hold you back from moving in, but the point is, your five senses can tell you more about a house than you might think. Pay attention: If a bathroom smells musty, mold could be lurking behind the tile.

2. Patrol the perimeter

Yes, your pooch will most definitely care about the state and size of your yard, but what you’re looking for here are signs of problems.

Is there standing water? Are there sinkholes? An old pool that now resembles a swamp? Poison ivy galore? Any of these things could be problematic or expensive to deal with — and a home inspector likely isn’t going to give your yard a once-over.

3. Sleep on it

Unless you’ve been house hunting for months, have a photographic memory, or just have a lot of money to burn (lucky you!), it’s best to make big decisions — like what repairs to request or whether to submit an offer — after a good night’s sleep.

Before you rush to judgment and pull your offer because the home inspector found mice in the attic or termites in the foundation, take a deep breath, do some research, and then take your time getting back to the seller. There’s usually plenty of time built into a real estate contract, and buying a new house is one decision you’ll have to live with for a while.

4. Be on guard

The house might be perfect, but … do you love the neighborhood? Is it safe? Does it have a dysfunctional HOA?

There are plenty of issues a seller is required to disclose if they’re aware of them (like whether the home has current or previous foundation problems), but depending on your state, a seller may not be required to disclose if a crime occurred there. Google the address, pull police records, check city records, ask the neighbors.

5. Mark your territory

Cruise around at different times of day to get a better feel for what you’ll be moving into. You can even chase down the mail carrier, likely a wealth of information — just be a little nicer than Fido if you want to get the scoop.

6. Do some digging

Sometimes it pays off to do a little poking around. Don’t forget to look for details like permits. If your soon-to-be house was recently renovated, look for the permits to be sure all of the work was aboveboard. Getting a makeup tax bill or request from the city to tear down nonpermitted work — like the beautiful sunroom that totally sold you on the house — is never a fun surprise.

7. Bark (loudly)

When you’re house hunting, you can’t be shy. A good real estate agent is a huge help, but you’re the one who’ll be moving into this new place, and you’ve got to look out for number one. Whether your issues are with your lender, landlord, or the seller, speak up! If you don’t, you might have to live with a not-so-great loan or shoddy plumbing repairs for quite a while.

8. Obey your master

When it comes to negotiating — at every stage of the process — your agent likely has a few tricks up their sleeves. Asking questions is good, but at some point you’ll need to have a little faith that your agent knows what’s up.

9. Learn a new trick

Just like your dog had to learn some unfamiliar words (“sit” and “shake”), there’s a whole new language to learn when you’re in the real estate world. “Escrow,” “easement,” “earnest money,” “amortization” … it can’t hurt to, ahem, bone up on some real estate vocab.

10. Sit and wait

Patience is a skill; it takes practice. (Just ask Fido how hard it is to “stay” when you’re dangling that treat in front of him!)

Sometimes you have to be OK with waiting for the offer to come through or the perfect apartment to come on the market. You can still be productive while you wait, though. Check out Trulia’s new boards to help you organize your search.

So stop chasing your tail. Get out there and track down that dream house!