Real Estate

Can Dogs in Listing Photos Help Sell Your Apartment?

The tan doodle is staged just perfectly in this listing photo for a $5.6 million condo in Yorkville.
Photo: Courtesy Compass

A five-story townhouse on West 9th Street has French doors that open onto a charming terrace garden and a kitchen with warm terra-cotta floors. There are too many fireplaces to count and lovely built-ins across the various sitting rooms, but it’s the smiling gaze of Lexis Cathexis, a champion-bred standard poodle, sitting on the mossy brick of the backyard garden that kind of sells the listing. “She loves that yard, and a lot of people who want a yard have a dog,” broker with High Domain and owner (of the building and Lexis Cathexis) Roberta Russell tells me. “I thought it would be winning.”

In recent months, we have noticed a lot of high-end dogs in a lot of high-end listings. There’s the pug in repose on a bay-window banquette in a $12.95 million townhouse on the Upper East Side. A $5.6 million condo in Yorkville features a tan doodle chewing on a dog toy on what looks a whole lot like a Nordic Knots Grand in dusty white. A one-bedroom co-op on Park and 87th has ten-foot ceilings and a black poodle the size of a second-grader sitting proudly in the living room. The broker for that apartment, Suzanne Weinstein of Coldwell Banker Warburg, said that Xander was the owner’s poodle and he just happened to pose at the right moment when they were shooting the place for the listing. “Once the proofs came back, the one with Xander was my favorite, so I placed it first in the lineup,” she says. Weinstein estimates that half of her interested buyers have asked whether they’ll get to meet the poodle from the picture.

Lexis Cathexis, a champion-bred standard poodle, poses in the backyard of a Greenwich Village townhouse going for $13.4 million.
Photo: Courtesy High Domain

A pug quietly staged in the window seat in the listing photos for a $12.95 million Upper East Side townhouse.
Photo: Courtesy Serhant

This is a shift. Pets were once thought of as a no-no in real-estate logic. Who wants an apartment that might smell like bichon frise? And many brokers are going for something like a blank slate when it comes to staging. (A blank slate furnished by Four Hands, maybe.) “Potential buyers don’t want to go down memory lane with you — they want to make it their own home,” Kelly Bensimon, of The Real Housewives of New York City and Douglas Elliman, told Architectural Digest a couple of years ago. And in a piece from 2013 on the folly of dogs in listings, a marketing executive at Town Residential told The Wall Street Journal that dogs might also steal the show in a way that could discourage sales: “Eight out ten people — if you show them a photo with a dog in it, they wouldn’t remember the apartment, they would remember the dog,” she said. (When I mention to Russell that her Greenwich Village townhouse’s garden looks like a good place for dogs, she quickly adds, “It’s good for people too.”)

Now, it seems, dogs are the new vase of flowering branches placed on a minimally styled mantel. Phyllis Gallaway, senior global real-estate adviser at Sotheby’s, has long defended the dog listing. (She was a pro-dog voice in the Journal piece more than a decade ago.) “It gives the apartment a warmth and makes it more inviting to come to see,” Gallaway tells me. She also thinks it’s become more common recently — and she always photographs an owner’s dog for a listing. Her faith in the trend, though, does not seem to apply to other pets. “Cats — not so much. Many people are allergic.”

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