Real Estate Tips

Tips for Buying a Home to Expand Your Family

It's exciting to buy a bigger home to accommodate your growing family. Learn what you should look out for when buying a new house.

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When it’s just you and your partner, a one- or two-bedroom condo or house is really all you need — and if it’s close to work, night life, or both, even better! But as your family grows, your priorities change and suddenly it’s more important to be in a safe, quiet neighborhood with lots of space, other families and good schools than it is to be in a trendy downtown neighborhood.

Of course, as you grow your family, you’ll probably also need more space. You’ll need play areas, somewhere to put guests, and space for family gatherings and birthday parties. Now that your family is growing, here’s what to look for when buying a bigger house.

Make Sure You Can Afford It

Remember, a bigger house means a bigger mortgage payment, higher property taxes and more expensive homeowners insurance. It can also mean higher maintenance costs. If you already own a starter home, you understand the hidden costs of homeownership. If you’re renting, you need to make sure you’re prepared to cover not just mortgage payments, but also to set aside one to three percent of your home’s value to cover maintenance costs each year. 

Getting a mortgage pre-approval from a lender can give you some idea of what you can afford or, at least, what the bank thinks you can afford. Rarely is it advisable to borrow as much as you’ve been pre-approved for. Instead, use that number as a jumping-off point to decide how much you can afford, considering not just your mortgage payment, but other hidden costs, like maintenance, average closing costs and the cost of a home warranty. From there, you can figure out what your best price range is and even ask your broker to tell you what your mortgage payments might be for a loan in that range. 

The Right Number of Bedrooms (and Bathrooms)

Real estate trends would suggest that sheer size is the most important thing you look for when buying a house to expand your family. But when it comes to raising kids, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the house is far more important than the total square footage of the place. Remember, each kid will probably want his or her own bedroom. If you plan to have a lot of kids, you can only really put two per room. 

As they get into their teens, though, they’re going to need more privacy. Make sure you have enough bedrooms so that each of your kids can have their own, or that you only have to double up younger kids. If each bedroom has its own ensuite bathroom, so much the better — you definitely need more than one bathroom, and the adage “two bathrooms for every three bedrooms” leaves someone out.

A Large Basement, Attic or Yard

Your kids might be babies now, but someday they’re going to be big kids hosting their first sleepovers. You’re going to need space to accommodate groups of friends, and if you have a large extended family, perhaps large groups of relatives. If you live in a climate with harsh weather extremes, you need an indoor play area. A large basement or attic that is or could be finished will give you the extra space you need to create a playroom or rumpus room and accommodate groups of overnight guests. 

A large yard might mean more work, but it also means room for a pool or addition, a big patio or deck, or a swing set or sandbox. You and the kids can toss the pigskin around after school or play with the family dog. Your large yard could easily host family gatherings, birthday parties, and someday, family reunions.

Plenty of Parking

Right now, you probably just need parking for you and your partner, but someday, your kids will learn to drive. And even if you make them all share a car, that’s still one extra car you’ll need to park. If you have two or three kids and they each get their own car, that’s two or three more cars you’ll have to park. Can they all fit in your driveway? Is there ample street parking? Does the property have room for a second driveway or an expanded driveway? You’ll want to keep all the family’s cars nearby, so think ahead.

Growing your family is an exciting time, partly because you’ll get to choose the home you’ll raise your children in. When you have that home, let us help you take care of it with a home warranty from American Home Shield®. 

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Learn more.

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