Millennials list dogs more than marriage or children as a factor in making a home-buying decision, according to SunTrust Mortgage.

About 33% of millennials who purchased their first home say the desire to have a better space or yard for a dog influenced their decision to buy, while 25% cited marriage or an upcoming marriage as a motivator, and 19% cited the birth or expected birth of a child.

The desire for more living space and opportunity to build equity were the only two factors that outranked dogs as a reason millennials are purchasing their first homes.

"Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home-buying decisions," said Dorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage president and CEO, in a press release. "For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; homeownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation."

About 42% of millennials who have never purchased a home cited having or wanting a dog as a key factor in their desire to purchase one in the future. This suggests dogs are also influencing purchase decisions of potential first-time homebuyers.

Millennial homeownership is on the rise, according to Chase. Customers under 35 made up 36% of Chase's mortgage origination volume last year, a figure up 16 percentage points from 2015.

"Demand among millennial-aged, first-time homebuyers is robust, and we expect them to continue adding strength to the housing market," said Smith.

About 44% of searches in the mortgage category in the first half of 2017 are for first-time buyer mortgages, according to Google.

According to CUNA, a recent study from Realtor.com showed a nearly 20 percentage point increase in the number of prospective first-time homebuyers, while research from Zillow found that nearly half of U.S. homebuyers are under the age of 36. The latest Credit Union Trends Report from CUNA Mutual Group showed fixed-rate first mortgage loan balances have slowed slightly this year, rising only 2.2 percent year-over-year as of May. CUNA Mutual added that renting, rather than buying, remains popular with millennials due to a lack of funds necessary for a down payment.

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