Whether it's your first time buying a home or you're looking to trade up, you've almost certainly got a long (and probably quixotic) wish list of the features you want. You've heard the advice that you should plan now for the life you'll be leading in a few years, right?
So maybe it's time to think about choosing a home for a family you don't have … yet.
Even if kids are still a distant, exhausting glimmer in your eye, it makes lots of sense to search out a home you won't have to immediately sell whenever you do start a family. And even if you never plan on being graced by the onslaught of soiled Luvs and insanity-inducing repeats of "Frozen" (or whatever "Frozen" equivilent exists a few years from now), it pays to be aware of what parents are looking for -- because one day, you'll probably sell whatever house you buy. And more likely than not, parents will be the buyers.
"Whether you choose a smaller home in an urban neighborhood to be close to attractions, or you opt for a bigger family home in the suburbs, the layout needs to work for a majority of potential buyers at resale time," says Lauren Sheehan, a Realtor in Portland, OR.
Either way, when you don't have young kids running around (or the parental angst that comes with the deal), you might not recognize potential safety and logistical issues. So here's a list of considerations to get you started.
- Will you be comfortable with having kids' bedrooms on different levels, which is common in older homes?
- How close do you want the master bedroom to be to the kids' bedroom(s)?
- How close are secondary bedrooms to bathrooms?
- Is the backyard fenced in?
- Will you have a direct line of sight from the kitchen or family room to the backyard to keep an eye on children?
- Do you want an eat-in kitchen or a separate dining room for big family dinners?
- Are there adequate staircase railings?
- What are the ratings of nearby schools?
- What's the crime rate of your target neighborhoods?
"It's difficult to gauge these items until you physically walk through properties and drive around the neighborhoods," Curtis says. "Look for things like how close the home is to busy streets and if there's space for kids to play."
Of course, no house is perfect (starter homes, in particular). Curtis recommends looking for properties you can expand or remodel to better suit your needs as time and money allow.
"Be mindful of whether or not there's room to expand by finishing a basement, remodeling an attic, or doing an addition," Curtis says, adding that your Realtor can recommend contractors who can provide you with estimates when and if you need to expand.
In the end, Curtis says, classic real estate wisdom holds true, whether or not you're a future parent: "Choosing a home is an emotional decision, but it's also a major investment; don't discount its resale value down the road."