Real Estate News

Buy for Children Before You Have Them

Written by PJ Wade

Even if you currently have no children, but plan to in the future, you might benefit from buying as if you do. PJ Wade explains why a recent research report offers home buyers without children serious food for thought.

If you don’t have children, but you and your partner share the solid conviction that your lives will revolve around children in the near future, consider buying a home as if you now have children.

The  “2019 Moving With Kids” Report, released by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Research Group, examined differences in purchasing habits for buyers who have children under 18 years and those who do not. In 2018, 63% of buyers were married couples. Thirty-four percent of all buyers had children under 18 living at home.

How would pretending to yourself that you already have children change how you approach your home search

According to the “Moving With” Report, having children impacts buying decisions in many ways. Even before you have children, you may benefit from buying as if you do, for instance:

• The Importance of Neighborhood

Fifty-three percent of buyers who have children evaluate neighborhoods based on the quality of school districts. Half of these buyers select a neighborhood based on the convenience to schools. The value and spirit of a neighborhood revolves around its schools, so you’d buy into the heart of the neighborhood from the start. You’ll benefit on resale as properties near preferred schools usually carry higher market values.

• Home Size

Buyers with children, tended to purchase “larger homes of 2,110 square feet in size with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.” If you buy a slightly larger home now, you’ll save the cost and inconvenience of moving again when the children arrive. In the meantime, the extra rooms could be used as a home office, a workroom, a distribution center for your online business, or short-term Airbnb rentals to generate more income. Use this additional income to pay down your mortgage more quickly and benefit financially in many ways.

• Limitations Related to Child Care Expenses

Twenty-six percent of buyers with children, reported the financial pressure of child-care expenses delayed home buying. This ongoing financial burden necessitated compromises regarding “the condition and size of the home, followed by price, lot size, and style of home.” If you search for a family home before the expenses associated with having kids hit, you may have more money to spend on features, benefits, and a location that matter to you.

Savvy buyers with children look at a potential home purchase and ask themselves (and their real estate professional), “Why might we want to sell this home in the future“” That is, what location or design factors might challenge a growing family in the future“

• If keeping children within the same school district and community throughout their schooling is a vital concern, the feasibility of long-term ownership should be considered before you buy.
• If a move in the future would be practical or preferred for a variety of reasons, the home may only need to suit the children during their early years.

The “Moving With” Report revealed that 24 percent of owners with children under 18 sold because their home was too small. Other reasons for selling included job relocation (19 percent) and a change in family situation (13 percent).

• Almost a quarter of buyers with children reportedly sold their home “very urgently,” compared to 14 percent of child-less buyers.
• Twenty-one percent of sellers with children requested help from their real estate professional to sell within a specific timeframe, 20 percent wanted skilled input to price their home, and 19 percent needed assistance with marketing the home to potential buyers.

With your real estate professional, review what typical buyers with children seek out in the areas you’re searching. How are the differences between those choices and your “no children now” search significant to your overall results, financial and otherwise“

The benefits of buying now with your family in mind versus buying something smaller now and then selling and buying a larger property before the children start school, may include cost savings, convenience, and minimized disruption.

• In some areas, real estate prices rise steadily, so what you can afford today may be out of reach in three or four years.
• The sale of a home and purchase of a new one within a few years of the initial buy may be an expensive alternative if the value of the current home has not appreciated much and the next home’s value has gone up significantly.

These are all very couple-specific decisions:

• Use the stats to get you thinking not to restrict your search.
• Your real estate professional will help you thoroughly investigate your options.
• Your vision of your future and your sense of style will guide you.

You may want to read more on this subject to clarify the differences between your “pre-children” thinking and what you’ll be considering soon regarding full-on family-home purchasing. The buyer profiles in NAR's Buyer Bios: Profiles of Recent Home Buyers and Sellers may spark some interesting discussions.


More Savvy Buyer articles by PJ Wade:

• “Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensive
• “Home Buyers: Seven Insights Into Confident Decision Making
• “Three Things Home Buyers Should Never Do

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Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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