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Tips for First-Time Home Buyers with Young Children

Starting the search for your first home purchase is an exciting, scary and overwhelming time! It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in the waves and lose sight of what matters most.  Choosing a home for your family is important! Check out our top considerations for first time home buyers with young children.

The old cliché, ‘location, location, location’

The location of your home and the surrounding area is arguably the number one priority for many first time home buyers with young children. Having kids in the mix means you have to consider a variety of factors! Taking the time now to prioritize and decide can save headaches down the road.

Your location determines the proximity to schools, convenience stores, your job, attractions, friends and more. It’s often the first and most important search parameter to be decided during any home search!

Before deciding on a location consider these common questions:

  • What are the school systems like (now, and for the future!)
  • Are there private or charter school options available?
  • How close is your childcare for off days and summer months?
  • What is the proximity to your family and friends?
  • How close are you to your jobs?
  • What are the neighborhoods like? (sidewalks, bike paths etc.)
  • What is the distance to attractions like parks, pools, etc.?
  • How far are convenience stores and grocery stores?
  • How are property taxes?

Taking the time to find a home in a neighborhood that you can enjoy, and that suits your lifestyle, is of the utmost importance. For many, this will be your home for decades to come!

Decide your budget for your first home

Relying on your pre-approval letter is not the best way to decide your budget when searching for your first home! Unfortunately, pre-approval letters don’t provide a great ‘big picture’ view. Take that step further and add your (expensive) precious children into the mix and we need to do some serious number crunching. Deciding on a budget when shopping for your first home is incredibly important!

Start with the basics. What are you comfortable paying now (for rent, for example) and work backward to the down payment, interest and ultimately cost of a home that you would easily be able to transition to. Don’t forget to factor in taxes, insurance, and utilities! On top of general home repair and maintenance expenses, your regular budget should be pretty well set in stone. For help, use the easy Mortgage Calculator.

When planning for the future, searching for a home when you have small children requires some extra legwork.  Depending on the area you decide to purchase in, you may have to consider private schools, different childcare, higher taxes and more.  If you have private school tuition or college tuition in your future – Take care to budget accordingly! All of the different pieces of the puzzle will come together, but it is important to make sure all your pieces are out on the table.

Another important factor is to search for homes that do not have ‘big ticket’ expenses looming, or to budget accordingly if you select such a home. Don’t set yourself up for large expenses like a new roof, septic system, new driveway, new deck, plumbing or major remodeling if your budget cannot support it.

Oh, and one last thing: do yourself a favor and don't buy during a seller's market. You'll thank us later.

Non-negotiable home features

In today’s swarm of technology and Pinterest or Houzz inspired daydreams, we can easily get carried away. Unless you have an unlimited budget or plan for some upgrades and remodeling, it may be necessary to bring your priority list back to planet earth.

Deciding the home features that your family requires, prefers or wants to avoid can make your home search much easier. 

Starting with very simple considerations, listing the home features you need can help keep your entire search on track.  How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Do you have a budget and plan for updates and remodeling, or are you moving in as is? 

Thinking about what is necessary now, and also what is needed in the future, will ensure you make a smart investment!  Buying a home with small kids may not be a picnic, but it can provide a ton of opportunity to take the time to search for what you want! Take into consideration the type of floor plan that fits your family best, but also will accommodate your kids (and your family) as they grow over time.  It is wonderful to have a home that your children will want to spend time in later in life, including entertaining friends and more. Functional space is key for your first home!

Here are 10 common features to look for when buying a home with young kids

  1. Number of rooms and bathrooms
  2. Bathroom details – Bathtubs, etc.
  3. A safe place to play (fenced yard, play area, etc.)
  4. Child safety – locks, banister guards, pool fences, etc.
  5. Functional space in laundry, kitchen
  6. Pantry and food storage / bulk storage
  7. Storage / closets
  8. Great flooring
  9. Great paint
  10. Accessibility (Parking, storage, etc.)

Whittling your list of features can help guide your home search.  Keep in mind, what may sound like a non-negotiable now may change as you begin to look!  Buying your first home is exciting, be sure to take the time to choose a home and neighborhood that fits your family best.

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