Looking for a house that you can call your family home is no easy task. Unlike looking for a first home, or investment property – where there are less variables – looking for a family home requires a lot of foresight and the juggling of many factors.

The average checklist for someone looking for a home for their growing family will look something like this (and this is just a start!):

• Does it have enough bedrooms?
• Does it have a bath?
• Is there enough storage?
• What school is it zoned to?
• How close is it to a park or playground?

This checklist is bloody long, and dynamic. It changes as your family transitions through multiple stages of life. For example, one toilet and shower might be fine when the kids are young, but when everyone starts to need the bathroom you might need more than one.

Here are 5 top tips to help you in the search for a family home:

1. Take your time

Not only will this ensure you avoid making a rash decision, but it’ll also help you to:

Understand market value of homes that meet your criteria. Watching the sale results and auction bidding is helpful in both understanding what houses are worth and sussing out the competition! When looking, you tend to see the same groups that share your search criteria. It is helpful to know what their budgets and limitations might be when it comes to crunch time. 

Hone your list of wants v’s needs. You’ll be able to analyse floor plans and consider what is going to work best for your family in the immediate to longer term. When we were looking, we wanted a house with a big garden for the kids to enjoy. With the benefit of time to consider this, I realised that a trip to the park with the kids was my saviour, and my dream of being able to watch the kids from the kitchen while I got my bake on was not my reality. Wherever I am, my kids are about a metre away. 

2. Go it alone

For some people, seeing how their kids react to a house can be an indication it’s the house for you. This might be helpful for some, but buyers with little kids, beware! They are not working off your checklist! They’re getting excited about the telly size or cubby house. When we were looking I was excited to see the kid’s reactions, but the novelty quickly wore off when I realised I was barely looking at these houses. I couldn’t get through open homes fast enough. It was only a matter of time until one of my kids broke something! I was chasing them through rooms and not concentrating on important details like, where will the ironing board go? Where would we keep our bikes, scooters, toys etc? Make sure you always have a child-free inspection. If that can’t be during the set open times, a good agent will organise a private viewing for you. 

3. Get snooping 

Finding the right area is almost just as important as the right house, so you need to find out what it’s really like to live there. Chatting to neighbours is nice to build rapport early, but they’ll always rave about their own street. You need to find unbiased opinions. Head to the local playground and chat to another parent. They won’t want you raising kids in a horrible area! Or go online to Facebook groups. Ask why people moved away and what makes people want to stay in the area. 

4. Assess the impact

Buying a ‘fixer upper’ can be very enticing. You can create a custom-made home for your family and save some cashola on stamp duty. But, there are some key considerations. Most importantly, where are you going to live when the project is underway? A major renovation can take up to 2 years end to end. About 9 months of that is likely unliveable. Unless you can carry out work in stages, you will likely need to rent. Look online to understand rental prices. Consider how drop offs and kid’s activities would work if you needed to move out further during this period for affordability. It’s a short-term inconvenience for a long-term gain, but it’s an important to consider from a lifestyle perspective. 

5. Call for help

If everything seems too difficult, particularly around all the weekend activities, then a great option is to engage a buyer’s advocate. A buyer’s advocate will understand your requirements and give you some independent perspective.  They take the emotion out of the search and provide expert impartial advice that will help you determine the right house and area for your budget. They also have networks into local agents that you can only dream of, so they can snap up perfect properties before the public get a chance to. 

For more advice to help you in your search for a new home, or if you are planning to sell, build or renovate check out West Home Girl – www.westhomegirl.com or follow on social media @westhomegirl.