Buying a Family Home: 3 Must-Have Traits
Buying a family home is different from picking out your first apartment. This time around, instead of worrying about your roommates or picking a spot that's best suited for your needs, you have to approach the process with your family's future in mind. It's important to find a home that's not only a good fit for today, but for the future as well — especially if you're planning to grow your family. Here are three important traits to look for during your home-buying process.
Home Trait #1: Buy a Home with Flexible Space Options
Buying a family home — whether you've started your family or not — is about more than just finding a location with a lot of unused space to grow into. Yes, it's helpful, but what if your family plans change and you're looking to downsize or prepare for different needs? Instead, opt for flexible spaces.
Let's say that your home has enough room for an office for you and your spouse right now. In the future, one of those offices can be converted into a baby room, and the two offices can be merged into that third room. But what happens if another baby comes along? Instead of buying a home with four rooms (costly, especially if you don't end up with a big family), buy a home with three rooms plus an area with a nook off of the kitchen/den, a loft, or some other small space that you could convert into office space in case you need to use that third room for more kids.
Other flexible space options to look for include:
- Potential to refinish the basement
- Potential to put on an addition (look in a home's deed as well for any home improvement restrictions)
Home Trait #2: Buy a Home Located in a Family-Friendly Place
Certain traits in your home's location will not only make your life easier, but it will also help you save on commute and tuition costs down the road.
Ideally, you'll be able to find a home that's located:
- In a Desirable School District: Find a home either in your first choice school district or in a district that allows you to choose a school outside of your zone (55 percent of large school districts now allow this).
- Near Good Child Care Options: Before your children head off to school, they'll likely need to spend time with relatives or at a daycare while you work. You'll want to make sure you find a home that's near friends and family whom you're okay.
- In a Neighborhood Where You'd Want to Raise Kids: You'll know a good neighborhood — one where you feel comfortable raising your children — when you see one.
Home Trait #3: Buy a Home that's Safe
Safety should be a priority when buying a family home. Safety considerations to make:
- Neighborhood Safety: Use Neighborhood Scout to look up the crime statistics for your future family home.
- Home Structure: Make sure you can secure access to any stairs (using baby gates at the top, and bottom), that you can properly close off access to parts of the house that might be dangerous, and that there's an enclosed backyard. If there's a pool on-site, then you want to make sure kids can be blocked from access.
- Home Codes: Make sure the potential home you're buying is up to code with things like a certificate showing lead-free paint, sufficient smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, installed handrails for each set of stairs, etc.
When buying a family home for the first time, keep these considerations in mind throughout your home-buying process so that you won't outgrow your first family home in just a few short years.