House Hunting With Kids? How to Do It Right
Whether you’re purchasing your first home or are already a home-buying pro, shopping for the perfect place to call home can be even more challenging when kids are involved. But with a little planning, the house-hunting process can be a fun and memorable experience for you and your children, and the perfect way to start a new chapter for your family. Here are some tips for success:
Know when to include your kids in the search
Shopping for a new home can be stressful and tedious, so it’s best to wait to involve your children in the process until you’ve narrowed it down to your top contenders. It’s likely you’ll start your home search online and visit a few prospective homes first without your children, then bring them back for another visit if the house is a top choice and a very real possibility.
Involving children in the house-hunting process is key to making the move more exciting for them and helps prepare them for this big transition. You can introduce your child to each home you’ll visit online through apps like Opendoor, and come back and visit as many times as you need before making an offer.
If scheduling permits, try to limit your in-person home tours to just a few houses at a time, so your child doesn’t get bored or overwhelmed. As you walk through the house, talk with your child about how it might look with your furniture, and how he or she might want to decorate and arrange their future bedroom. Spend time in the back and front yards and any of the spaces that could soon be their domain.
Research neighborhoods and schools
Do other families live in the neighborhood? Ask them how they enjoy it. Take your family on a walk around a potential neighborhood and get a feel for what daily life would be like. Consider how far away playgrounds, community pools and local recreational facilities are.
When it comes to schools, you’ll want to start talking to people and researching school districts online before you begin your house search to help keep your house-hunting more focused to neighborhoods with schools you’d potentially like your children to attend. Visiting school websites and social media pages with your children can also help bring the school to life and help them feel more comfortable and look forward to meeting new friends.
Consider house size, layout and condition
If you’re planning to grow your family, a bigger home with ample space may be a better choice. Having extra storage for toys and sports equipment, along with a designated area where kids can have space to play and make noise, can keep both grown-ups and kids happy. Also consider how the house’s floor plan fits your family’s lifestyle. If you want open flow and sight lines to the play area from the kitchen, keep that in mind as you tour. If the kitchen and dining area are where your family gathers, is the space big enough to accommodate everyone, including extended family and guests during holidays? Are there enough bathrooms to allow all family members time and space to get ready for the day during the morning rush (especially once they get to be teenagers!)?
Also know your threshold for home projects and potential renovations. If you’ve got the ambition to tackle a home-upgrade project in the near future, an older home in need of some TLC might be a great buy for your family. If the thought of a home remodeling project is the stuff of nightmares for you, know that going in and focus on nearly turn-key homes that will need little-to-no upgrades.
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions your family will make and it will soon be the scene of many of your most precious memories. By taking the time to prescreen houses before bringing your children into the house-hunting process and paying attention to the details that will affect your family, you can find the perfect home where you can watch your children grow and thrive for years to come.