Trying to find the perfect house to call your home is never easy. It’s even harder when you’re trying to find the right home for you and your best furry friend. But that’s where Jill Barsky, also known as the “Pet Friendly Realtor” comes into the picture. She brings a rare combination of skills into play – she not only loves animals and rescues them, but she is also an exceptional real-estate agent that has been helping pet parents find the perfect homes for the entire family for years. So we were very excited to be able to have a quick chat with Jill to learn a little bit about her story, profession and passion.
1) What made you decide to combine your passion and your profession together?
Jill knew from an early age that she wantedto have animals as a big part of her life.During her childhood she was always bringing a bird, turtle or snake to the house to take care of them. After studying at Maryland, she got a corporate job for a food chain. After a few years there, she realized she enjoyed the job, but it wasn’t her true passion. She left that job and was contemplating what to do next, when her mom suggested she become a real-estate agent because she liked going to open-houses. Jill soon after got her license and became a real-estate agent. One of Jill’s managers one day suggested that she should consider becoming more than a real-estate agent. Contemplating the advice Jill remembered her favorite college professor from the University of Maryland who gave her simple, but great advice….”find a need and fill it”. This gave Jill the idea to combine her passion for animals with her love of real-estate and that is how she became “The Pet Friendly Realtor”.
2) You offer a really interesting service for pet owners…so how do you help them find the right home for the whole family?
As part of her process Jill includes the whole family from the parents, kids to the pets as part of the requirements for the home. She takes the time to understand the buyers and their priorities for the home whether that is price, location or something else that is important. She also asks her buyers what requirements they have for their current of future pet – do they need to be close to the vet, doggy day care or a dog park. She takes all these factors into consideration to make sure she finds the best home.
A key value that Jill offers is that she is familiar with all the different state, county and local laws and the specific condo rules for living with pets. This enables her to make sure the home is a good fit for the entire family. She is able to avoid the worst case scenario for a pet owner which is buying a home that seems perfect and then finding out that you can’t have your pet live there because of some regulation you weren’t aware of during the buying process. For any potential buyers, Jill recommends double checking all the housing regulations and if you are given any allowances for your pet to ensure that you get the details in writing in case you run into any issues in the future.
3) Have you gotten any interesting pet related requirements from clients when trying to find them a home?
Jill recounts a really interesting client that needed her help to find a new place for him to live along with his alligators. It turns out the gators were out growing the bathtub where they were being housed. In order to find the perfect home, Jill had to go through all the rules and regulations for having alligators as pets…..from fence heights and places where they could live safely.
4) I know you are really passionate about helping animals in need. I read that you joined animal rescuers in post-Katrina Mississippi, returning with a dog. Can you tell us the story about the dog you rescued?
After viewing the suffering that was occurring after the hurricane, Jill decided she had to go there to help the dogs in need. Because she has her own non-profit rescue organization, she was granted a special exception to be able to go there to help the animals. She was in Mississippi helping with the rescue for several weeks. The experience changed Jill’s life – all the rescued animals were housed in separate sections from farm animals, dogs to cats. Jill lived in a tent and slept on a cot. She could hear the poor animals crying because they were suffering. They didn’t understand the situation and were crammed together in kennels that were stacked five high and hundreds across. From this experience Jill explains that it’s really important that all pet parents get their dogs micro-chipped. If more pets had ben micro-chipped during Katrina many more pets could have been reunited with their owners.
As part of the rescue effort, Jill was assigned a row of dogs in the barn. There she came across a tiny dog that was a shepherd mix named Forest. He was in a tiny crate with lots of other dogs and was very sick. He was heart worm positive and had lots of bruises and a fever. The veterinarian felt like the best course of action was to euthanize the poor dog. Jill asked the vet to provide the dog enough medication, so he could make the trip back with her to Maryland so she could try to save him. She was able to take Forest back to Maryland and have her vet team bring him back to health after a few weeks. Jill tried to find Forest’s owner, but he wasn’t micro-chipped and she was never able to find his former owner. So Jill became his new mom and the two of them enjoyed twelve great and fun filled years together. Even though this story has a happy ending, Jill explains that Forest is just one of so many dogs that need help during these times of crisis.
5) What do pet owners like most about working with you as their realtor?
Jill’s clients are pet lovers too, so they are well prepared and have been warned that if there is a dog in need, Jill will jump into action even during a house hunt to save the dog. In the past, Jill has stopped in four lane traffic and parked on the side of the road in the effort to save a loose dog. Her clients really appreciate the care that she brings to saving dogs and also in finding them the right home. They know that she is passionate about finding them a home and rescuing dogs. Her top priority is not the money, but finding the right home for the entire family to enjoy. As an example, Jill donates a portion of every commission to a pet organization of the client’s choice. Because of her passion, Jill will always go the extra mile to make sure that the new home is the right fit and that all rules and regulations are satisfied. She makes sure all her clients requirements are met from having the right fencing, being close to dog parks and the pet friendly bar or having access to a good veterinarian nearby.
6) What do you find most satisfying about being the “Pet Friendly Realtor”?
For Jill the great moments are when her clients are able to adopt or foster a dog because of their new house or rental that she has found for them. She really enjoys it when her clients are able to support her in the rescue efforts by contributing their time or energy to help save a dog. Her clients have been instrumental in donating and spreading the word about her services to their friends. Jill really feels like she is the lucky and blessed one. So many of her customers support her efforts to care for dogs and rescue them. In that sense, Jill and her clients often have a much deeper bond than just a realtor and client relationship – there is much bigger goal at play than just finding a new home. Jill and her customers are really aligned with their passions, which makes finding a home much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
If you’re looking for an expert to help you find your next home for you and your pet, check out Jill’s website. You can also find her tips on taking care of animals on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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