There is a lot to consider when you are buying a family home. There may be a lot of people to please. You also have to keep one eye on the future because the nature of families is that they change rapidly. A home that suited you, your partner and a newborn baby is unlikely to meet the needs of three boisterous teenagers and your work-from-home lifestyle change.
Moving home is disruptive and there are fees to pay so unless you have itchy feet and like to relocate every couple of years, it is best to choose a house that will last for a while. This means planning ahead and putting together a check-list of everything that a family home needs. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Ask yourself these questions.
How much can you afford?
There is no point in viewing spectacular eight-bed mansions with their own pools and gyms and then having to walk away because it is beyond your budget. This simply leads to disappointment and frustration. Set your budget before you start viewing houses. The first limiting factor is how much a lender will be willing to give you. They will take your financial circumstances and your income into account. You will have to make a down payment yourself. The exact figure will depend on what mortgage products are available when you want to buy but it will be anything from 5% to 20%. Do you have this amount of money put by or can you use the equity that you have in your current home?
Even if a lender offers you an incredibly generous mortgage offer, it is not always in your best interests to accept it. There is only one person who has to pay this loan back and that is you. Look carefully at the predicted monthly repayment schedule and calculate if you can afford it. Then consider if you could afford it if you lost your job or became ill. There may be insurance products that can help you with this but you have to factor their monthly cost into your calculations.
This is a very personal decision and it is up to you to choose what your priorities as a family are. Are you willing to cut down on travel and other little luxuries to be able to afford your dream home? This is not right for everyone.
Should you buy an old or a new house?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if you buy a new house you will avoid all structural issues and repairs. That is simply not the case. If you move into a brand new house where no-one has ever lived before there can be all sorts of snagging problems that only come to light once you move in.
It is essential to get a thorough house inspection completed. When you get a report from http://www.solexgroup.ca/buyers-home-inspection it will detail all problem areas that you may want to discuss with the vendor. You may be able to negotiate a reduced price if significant issues are found.
One cheap way of getting onto the housing ladder is buying a house that is in a rundown condition and doing it up a bit at a time as you are living there. This can be a fantastic and fun project for a young couple or a group of single people as they are starting out. It is not such a great idea for families with young children. Looking after a toddler in a house that has no water supply for a few days is not everyone’s idea of fun. There are also health and safety issues to think about. If you live in a house that is essentially a building site it can be very dangerous for young children.
You have the option of living in rented accommodation whilst you are doing the work but this will add significantly to your monthly outgoings and to your stress levels. When you have several young children this may not be a good idea.
Is the house big enough and will it adapt to your needs?
This house is likely to be your home for 10 to 15 years or even longer so it needs to be big enough to accommodate your future needs and it must be able to adapt to you as a family. If you have one child at the moment are you thinking of having any more? This will dictate the number of bedrooms that you need. The size of the bedrooms is also important. A tiny box room may be fine as a nursery for a tiny baby but will it accommodate the needs of a school age child? Parents like to have their child’s bedrooms close to theirs when they are little but teens like to have some privacy. Lofts that can be converted into bedrooms are ideal for this.
Think about how you function as a family. Is the kitchen close to where the children will be playing so that you can keep an eye on them when you fix dinner? Houses that have several living rooms work well for families especially when the kids get old enough to have friends over. It saves arguments over who is going to have the sofa and the TV.
The house does not have to meet all these needs right now but must have the potential to do so. Many dens can be converted into spare bedrooms. The family room can transition into a study or a studio as the kids grow up. A loft or a garage can make a useful games room. You could even use the basement as a guest room or as a chill out zone for bored teens.
Where will your kids go to school?
Choosing a suitable school for their kids is one of the biggest decisions that parents make and they can spend months agonizing over it. It is important that you look ahead and check out all of the schools in the area. You can access reports and reviews online but nothing replaces a personal visit. Think about classroom sizes, after-school programs and the level of parent involvement. Measure how far your proposed home is from the school and plan how your children are going to get there. Will they be able to walk and is the route safe? Will you be driving them and is the route congested? Is there a bus service that they could use?
Where will you work and play?
Is the house close to your place of work and does this even matter? So many of us work from home these days that this may not be as big an issue as it used to be but you still must consider it. There may be a need for you to buy two cars if you and your partner work in opposite directions and this will affect your monthly budget.
Then have a think about what you will do when you are not in work. Check out local swimming pools, parks and other leisure facilities in the area. Find out where all the families hang out at evenings and the weekend and test them out.
Does it have some outdoor space?
Children have boundless energy and running around is good for them. We have all seen the figures on childhood obesity and we don’t want our kids to be part of the statistics. However, outdoor space is expensive and you will pay a lot of money for a house with a yard or a garden in some areas. You could live in a cheaper area where you will be able to afford a house with a bigger garden.
Remember that a huge garden is a responsibility and it will be time-consuming to keep in neat. Think about exactly what you want in the garden. It could be a space to kick a ball around, a space to erect a trampoline or somewhere to host a BBQ.
How do you feel about the kitchen?
The kitchen is the heart of most homes and if you like to cook this could be where you spend most of your time. A small, cramped kitchen is very unattractive and will not create a happy home. A bright, modern and airy kitchen is more than just a place to prepare food. It can double up as a dining space and the place where you socialize or chat with the kids when they get home from school.
Think about all of the facilities that you want to fit in the kitchen and work out if there is room. Can you fit your fridge, freezer, dishwasher coffee maker in there?
Does it have outdoor storage?
Some form of garage is so important when you have kids. Before you know it they will have bats and balls cluttering up the house and you will be crying out for somewhere to store them. Then they move on to scooters and bikes and surfboards. The list is endless. You also need somewhere to keep the gardening equipment and the spare pots of paint!