Reid Murphy, of Developers Realty Inc., recently sold a Water Club unit to the owner of a Labrador retriever.
The sale went through because the buyer was able to carry his dog. Water Club’s pet policy allows owners to have two dogs small enough for the owner to carry.
“More people are spending more and more time here,” Murphy said. “Pets are definitely becoming part of the family.”
It may be hard to believe given the number of dogs you see walking down Gulf of Mexico Drive on a sunny day, but many Longboat Key condominiums don’t allow pets. Of the 10 largest condominiums on the island, six prohibit pets, while three have weight or size restrictions.
Some Realtors say restrictive pet policies make condo units a tougher sell.
“Many times a buyer won’t get to see the development if they don’t allow a pet,” said Ian Addy, of Michael Saunders & Co., during a Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums Realtor panel in March that focused on improving condominium marketability.
“People want companionship, and a pet provides that,” said Bruce Myer, of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. “I do think there is some benefit to being a pet-friendly community.”
Myer said he has never had a buyer choose a community because it didn’t allow pets.
Many of the Key condominiums with liberal pet policies are newer buildings.
“It really started when the Sanctuary was being developed,” said Murphy of the four-phase condominium that was built in the early 1990s. “The developers knew it was important for sales.”
Owners at the Sanctuary are allowed one pet under 30 pounds.
Grand Bay, for example, was built in the mid-1990s and is one of the few high-rise condominiums to allow two dogs of any size.
Kathy Podolsky, assistant property manager at Grand Bay, said she hears from Realtors that the property’s pet policy is a draw for buyers. The dogs that live at the property don’t generate many complaints.
“What happens, in my opinion, is the pet owners try to respect the owners who don’t have pets,” she said. “We have rules: They have to be on a leash, and you have to clean up after them.”
The condominiums that don’t allow pets tend to be older, many built in the 1970s and 1980s.
One of those condominiums, Windward Bay, changed its policy in 2011, to allow two pets up to 25 pounds each.
“So far, there have not been any major issues,” said resident Beverly Shapiro, who was unhappy at the time with the way the rule was changed because she felt owners didn’t receive proper advance notice of the board’s vote.
According to Myer, the pet policies for many condos today still reflect the attitudes of the original boards.
When Atrium was developed in the mid-1980s, board members were determined not to allow pets, while the original Fairway Bay board was more open to the possibility.
Atrium still does not allow pets, while Fairway Bay allows a pet that weighs 15 pounds or less.
“Maybe there was just that perception that a dog is going to make a lot of noise,” Myer said. “Maybe we’re becoming more pet-friendly now.”
But, for many condominiums, pet bans don’t seem problematic.
“Occasionally, there’s an owner who will ask why they can’t (have a pet) and what they can do to change the board’s mind,” said Nick Luman, manager of the 336-unit Beachplace.
Luman pointed to the flurry of recent sales at Beachplace as evidence that its pet policy doesn’t seem to hurt sales.
Property records list 29 sales at the condominium since the beginning of 2012.
Still, other condominiums have policies that allow for flexibility.
At Vizcaya, for example, there are no weight restrictions, but the board has to approve any pet.
Flexible policies mean that a vocal, 5-pound Chihuahua might not be allowed, while a gentle, 80-pound Lab that rarely barks could get approval.
At the 36-unit Regent’s Place, Manager Kirk Rhoades said rules limit owners to two pets that each weighs 20 pounds or less.
But the board is willing to make exceptions, like it did recently when a buyer had a golden retriever. The dog was well behaved, so the board wrote it into the contract that as long as the dog didn’t cause issues by barking or being aggressive, it could live at Regent’s Place.
“Sometimes you have to use more common sense than condo docs,” Rhoades said. “Some people will not buy a condo if they can’t bring the child that is a dog with them.”