How can you spot the perfect home for your young or growing family?
Let’s start with what you already know: A perfect family home has to be perfectly located.
It has to be close to, and accessible from, the parents’ workplaces. It must be in a safe neighborhood that has a family-friendly community. Neighboring schools, places of worship, and hospitals should be up to your preferred standards.
Available recreation options should also be family-friendly, from the parks, gardens, pools, museums, recreation centers, to public gyms.
Accessibility to grocery stores, shopping malls, among other shopping places, is also a reasonable consideration to make.
All these are things you can learn from a quick tour around the different neighborhoods you have in mind, talking with police in each neighborhood, visiting their schools, and comparing the neighborhoods on different real estate websites.
But then there are critical considerations that may seem obvious to many, but they are not. Some of them include:
According to experts, you should buy a home whose resulting total debt repayment doesn’t exceed 36 percent of your monthly income.
However, knowing how much money you have is the most complicated of all considerations, for four main reasons.
First, you need to decide as a couple if you will both be financing the mortgage- which means you both have to work- or if one of you will be staying home with the kids. The latter option means that your price range should be limited to the income of only one spouse.
Secondly, you need to calculate the monthly income that you actually have after taxation, because that’s what you can actually spend.
Thirdly, a new home comes with additional monthly expenses in form of utility bills and property taxes that can cripple your family financially. You have to factor in these expenses when deciding your price range otherwise you will struggle to sustain the home in the long run.
Lastly, you have to remember that expenses on groceries and other extras such as tuition will only grow as your family grows.
If you are struggling to finance a mortgage now, chances are that you will struggle even more in the coming years.
Should you choose a house, homes come with many ownership legalities. You have to decide upfront who will legally own the house in case the parents split (God forbid, but it happens).
If only one name is on the deed, the other partner has no legal claim of the house in case of divorce/separation, or in case the legal owner goes rogue and decides to sell the house.
The best ownership option for family homes is joint tenancy because in such a case, each partner has a 50 percent legal claim of the house.
The first challenge when looking for a family-friendly place to call home is the right size.
The budget you settled for will, obviously, be a great determiner of the size you can afford within your neighborhood of choice. But then there are other factors that are determined by your family needs, and they aren’t always straightforward.
For example, if one of the spouses works from home, or has a dream of freelancing in the future, you might need to think of a home office.
If you intend to be hosting out-of-town family or friends, a guest room then comes into the picture. If you have (plans to have) pets, you have to factor in their needs as well.
And then there is the need for a kid-friendly home.
You need to think of a sizable backyard for your kids’ playing space. The defining features of the home also have to shout kid-friendliness right from the gate; from the fencing, stairs, floor plan, storage space, bathrooms, closets- everything!
You can always baby-proof the home afterward, but it is always better to find a home that was initially designed with young children in mind.
If you cannot afford a big enough home at the moment, your best option is to buy a home that has enough space for future expansion.
That way, you can always add new rooms as your kids grow older and as your family needs evolve.
With house shopping, what you see isn’t always what you get.
You cannot afford to skip house inspection because it is the surest way of knowing the true condition of a home and its systems. It will help you confirm the presence or absence of harmful elements such as radon, carbon monoxide, and mold.
Quality inspection unearths any home additions or installations that were either not permitted or not installed to code. You need to be sure that every feature in the home was properly permitted so that you don’t end up paying for features that don’t exist legally.
The bottom line: Home inspection ensures that you aren’t blindsided when paying for a new home.
Building a Home for Your Family
If you can’t find a good family house in your preferred locations, maybe you should consider buying land and building a house from scratch.
Buying land is a complicated process, but you can skip all the trouble by partnering with a real estate company, such as Lotmix.
With the land ready, your main task will be to meticulously plan the details of your house, get the needed permits, and prepare a budget, all with the help of an architectural designer and a builder.
If you cannot afford to finance the house from your pocket, your builder will help you come up with estimates that you will then use to source for financing from the bank.
Whether you choose to buy or build a family home, it is important that you take time to get your finances in order.
Have your deposits ready, conduct thorough research, and involve all family members in every decision you make, every step of the way.
Rushing through the process will only mess up one of the most exciting chapters in your life.