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Purchasing a Home – A Family Affair

For many, buying a home is more than a matter of personal taste and affordability – it’s a family affair. In addition to liking the home and it meeting budget requirement, it must also fit the needs of the family. Whether one has an established family or is planning for a family down the road, anticipating your future needs (and timing) are critical. What may make a perfect starter home for a couple today might not work as well when children come into the picture.

Important family considerations include:

  1. Proximity to family. In a recent industry survey, nearly half of the homeowner respondents reported that they live less than 10 minutes from extended family members. And, 72 percent said they choose to live within 30 minutes of family members. Buying a home that is in close proximity to family members can provide support, help and guidance that can be a great benefit both emotionally and even financially. With extended family nearby, families have the opportunity to spend more time together and, depending on your relationship with family members, may even be able to save money on occasion. The cost of babysitters and long distance travel to visit relatives can be significant.
  2. School district. Often the school district is a major determining factor for choosing locale. The kids may already be enrolled in a school district and there is no reason to change them. Or, maybe school district reputation and other statistics make it a good fit for the family dynamics when it comes to choosing a future school for the kids.  School district is also important for resale value.
  3. Existing floor plan. Each family has its own unique dynamic and should take its distinctive needs into consideration when exploring different floor plans. While having a master bedroom downstairs and the other rooms upstairs may work for some families, others may prefer to have all of the bedrooms on the same level.
  4. Home features. There are a host of family-friendly features a house can include to make it more appealing for a growing family. The importance of these can only be determined by the future home buyer as the more features included, the greater the price. Examples include: fenced yard, bonus room, storm shelter, pool, storage building, etc.
  5. Surrounding neighborhood. A couple will look at a neighborhood differently than parents will look at it. Simply stated, the priorities of each are different. For parents, it’s a good idea to get an understanding of what the neighborhood offers for children and what is conveniently located near it, such as local recreational centers, parks or playgrounds as well as the school system (and where the schools are located in relation to the home), before deciding on an area to live. And, of course, safety – but this goes without saying.
  6. Future lifestyle needs. Make sure the home you purchase leaves growing room and will still fit the family’s needs a few years down the road, especially if there are plans for more children.
  7. Budget. One of the most important things for all potential homeowners to consider is their personal budget. Along with a growing a family and having children comes a list of growing expenses. Be sure to estimate (future) monthly expenses along with a mortgage payment to ensure that all financial commitments can be reasonably met.

Purchasing a home is very exciting whether it be for oneself, as part of a couple or for a family. The needs of a couple change over time, depending on the dynamics of the unit. Purchasing for a family creates a different group of needs than buying as part of a couple. For instance, a couple may want a quiet street without kids, but a family may choose neighbors with many school-aged children for their kids to hang out with after school. There are a host of considerations listed above (as well as others, I’m sure), but the key is to communicate with a real estate professional the top priorities so that search criteria can be entered to meet those priorities and find the perfect home.


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