• Jason Feldman, broker and owner of Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate, specializes in finding apartments and condos that welcome all members of the family.
  • Most of Feldman's clients who own pets currently are dog owners.
  • Feldman does all the legwork after getting to know the whole family.

Jason Feldman, while relatively new to the real estate industry, has used his lifelong love of animals to find a niche in the Chicago market. With 38 million U.S. households owning dogs, and another 32 million living with cats, it stands to reason that accommodating the needs of the whole family is a very big niche.

Feldman, broker and owner of Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate Related Realty, specializes in finding apartments and condos that welcome all members of the family. Not only does Feldman ask the usual questions about a buyer’s wants and needs, he has clients complete a questionnaire about their pets. He asks about breed, weight and how much outdoor space is needed, among a variety of other things.

He then does all the legwork to ensure that the pet is a match for the property, and the property for the pet. That way, he said, no client of his will fall in love with a property, only to find out that a key member of the family is not welcome.

Feldman said that, after a career in non-profits and graphic design, he was searching for a career that would make more of a connection with the end user.

While he was selling his parent’s house a few years ago, he said the bells went off.

“There are real limitations in the MLS in how you can enter information about pets,” he explained. “I saw a real need for taking seriously the four-legged family member. After all, a buyer would not leave other family members behind when they move. Why leave behind a pet to find the perfect home?”

He said that at his first real estate job, new agents were told to sell the experience of that particular company, since he had yet to find his niche. Branding himself and his firm as pet-friendly did the trick of setting himself apart.

“My clients are appreciative of the thoroughness of my process,” he said. “They don’t find the pet questionnaire a problem at all. They know that means I’m not taking them to properties that they could not take their whole family to.

Feldman says that most of his clients with pets have dogs, or want to get a dog, and the rest have cats. The word about him has gotten around: He’s now working with a family that has a 100 pound German Shepard, and seeks to relocate from Boston with the dog.

As he gets his niche business going, he’s spent the past year connecting with the types of people who know the pet industry, and who know pet owners.

“I’ve reached out to dog walkers in the neighborhood,” he said. “I’m starting to build relationships with veterinarians. I’m working with a pet photographer, and a staffing company called Fetchfind to connect with people with a passion for pets.”

In the future, he said, he may offer franchise opportunities.

Nowhere else is that passion more evident than in the pet rescue community, he adds. In addition to working with organizations in that space, Feldman donates a portion of his commissions to the charity of the client’s choice. And, if the buyer is seeking a pet, that donation helps facilitate the adoption from a shelter.

Feldman believes that his approach provides a much-needed service to the buyer, one that may be overlooked by some of his colleagues. He points out that in his own Chicago neighborhood of 12 buildings, there are 12 different sets of rules for dealing with pets.

“All the buildings that I can think of that were built after 1980 allow dogs,” Feldman added. “That goes to show that even developers have realized the value of fully accommodating all the members of a family.”

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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