By Donn Bree
Starting a family is the single most impactful decision you will make in your life. Many financial, social, professional and personal decisions quickly follow as a result. Buying your first single family home requires both immediate and long term planning with a seemingly never ending list of needs vs wants. 4 out of 10 residential home purchases in the U.S. today are by first-time home buyers. We’ve covered things like financing, location, condition and purchasing requirements in our blog for first time home buyers here.
Whether you are planning to have kids or already have a crew, the impact that they have on your family home buying decisions cannot be understated. A survey by Coldwell Banker found that over 70% of parents (Millennial & Gen X) say that their home buying preferences are largely impacted by their children. Whether you’ve already prioritized your list or you are just beginning, we found that these requirements are frequently discussed with our single family home buying clientele.
1. Family-Friendly Floor Plan
Steep stairs and multiple levels can make it hard to keep an eye on your kiddos. Look for an open floor plan with indoor play areas that make it easy to keep tabs. Stairs from the garage can make it a pain to bring groceries and/or sleeping kids inside. If you have exploratory offspring, steep stairs can pose a safety threat, particularly at night.
Note the distance between bedrooms if you have to wake up regularly (or are woken up regularly). Stairs may not be a deal breaker if you can still find usable space and install safety gates – still, this is something to think about. As your family grows it’s also important to consider the adaptability of the home in question. Can you change bedrooms around, repurpose a toy room into a hobby room or office? Is the house something that can be grown into or will you need to upsize in a few years?
2. School Districts
What is the school district like? A good school district can mean a safer neighborhood, more stable home value, higher resale value, and, obviously, better education for your kids. In their article entitled “Good Schools, Affordable Homes: Finding Suburban Sweet Spots,” New York Times reporters Quoctrung Bui and Conor Dougherty claimed that, “in some areas – particularly a handful of dense cities with good public transit – the preference for being in the city center seems to outweigh the importance of school quality by a huge margin.” In suburban areas, sometimes homes can be both affordable and have good local schools.
3. Number of Bedrooms
A recent trend among young families is the need for multi-generation accommodations. A recent survey from Coldwell Banker reveals that 37% of real estate agents are seeing an increase in demand for homes accommodating multiple generations. If you are expecting a grand-parent, close relative or nanny to sleep over regularly, it may be a good idea to spring for an extra bedroom.
Walkability is becoming a must-have for young families in urban and suburban areas. Access to local markets, restaurants and stores can be a great convenience. The ability for kids to walk (accompanied) to nearby schools, playground and parks safely is a huge benefit and increases average exercise time by 47% according to the American Journal of Preventive Health. Consider your neighbors. Are they young families, empty nesters, young adults or local college kids? What is the overall feel of the traffic flow and what do the neighborhood crime reports say about the safety?
A family home isn’t complete without a nice big yard. Make sure it is fenced in for kids and pets alike or add that to the list during negotiations. Do you prefer a home with or without a pool? If you have young toddlers, a pool fence is mandatory and may even lower your homeowners insurance rates.
Kids can do a number on a light colored carpet. Many parents are opting for hardwood floors, tiles or durable vinyl that resembles a more expensive finish. Always check under existing carpets for hardwood floors as this was a carpeting over these was a common trend years back. Also check for cracking in the concrete and foundation as this can be a costly and required repair!
Your kids need to eat (alert the media!) – so being able to cook while maintaining an eye on the family is a huge plus. A common trend in newer construction homes is an open kitchen concept. An eat-in kitchen with nearby tables and bar tops can also be a great place for kids to do crafts, homework and help clean up (year right!) after dinner. Bonus points for entertaining!
A large bathroom can make bath time a much easier process, particularly if you have more than one kid. It can also keep the rest of your house cleaner as you can dry them off before leaving the bathroom.
Kids have a lot of stuff. From car seats to bikes, toys, holiday decorations, toys, books, diapers, and… did I mention toys? A family home requires more storage than you think! A garage can also be a great place to store things like strollers and cribs if you are planning on having more kids down the road. Think about security, convenience and proximity to living areas when examining a garage.
10. Electrical Outlets
From baby monitors to changing tables, it seems like everything requires electricity these days! Lots of outlets are a modern day necessity and having to daisy chain extension cords is a safety concern. Bonus points for outlets that are out of reach for kids.
Having the laundry on the main level rather than in the basement or garage can be incredibly handy when you’re wrangling multiple kiddos and their wardrobe changes. If bedrooms are all on the second level, a laundry room there can save your back and energy so that you’re not carrying clothes up and down the stairs.
When picking neighborhoods, it’s important to consider things like proximity to: childcare, amenities (grocery store, pharmacy, clinics, etc.), and recreation (team sports, gymnastics, hobbies, outdoors). If you’re driving your kids to school, will it be easy to drop them off on the way to work? How long will it take you to get home or to pick the kids up after school? Working from home with a home office is very common now, so ask your employer about flexibility on that front!
While not exhaustive, we hope this list was useful for all you young parents and family home buyers out there! Check out all of our listings for San Diego County homes for sale here.