Growing Family, Bigger House?

The things real estate experts want you to know before moving

As the family grows, so do needs at home. Whilst the idea of moving to an urban condo, or a bigger house in the suburbs sounds very tempting, there are some factors you need to consider in making the move as smooth as possible. Surprises are lovely on birthdays, not so much when they come in the form of a scary unexpected bill.

Dreaming of Baby has sought advice from real estate experts. Here’s what they want you to know:

Acreage can be a big plus

Buzz Tatom, at Venture West Ranches, observes a trend in families opting for houses with some acreage for their kids. ‘If your locale allows it, purchase a home with a small amount of acreage. It allows your kids to be forced to get off their computer and get outside. They can be taught the responsibility of taking care of animals and improving the land. The lessons are numerous, from caring to learning how to fix things, to seeing what hard work can accomplish. A few acres can change a kids life in a very positive way!”

Analyze the costs

Before deciding on a property, it’s imperative to analyze all costs involved. ‘When comparing the alternatives, you can distill down to a financial analysis’, says Gary Lucindo from Lucid Realty. “There are multiple costs to consider and you can actually put a dollar value on all of them: commuting costs, including the value of your time; housing cost; property tax cost; and school cost, if you are considering private school. Unfortunately, most people don’t do this’, he concludes.

This is also what Nimrod Sheinberg, VP of Sales at Oz Moving & Storage had to say on moving to a bigger house: “There are many costs that you don’t even think about, mainly in everything around the living space; the roof, the yard, taking care of the driveway, heating, cooling, water heater, etc.”

Budget for Home-Related Taxes

When looking for a new bigger home, many parents-to-be forget to take into consideration home-related taxes. Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Community Tax asserts that being aware of real estate taxes – and tax breaks – is imperative: “Everyone sees the cost of the taxes during the purchase, but after the sale, families do not always budget for all of the home-related taxes on a yearly basis”. Added to this, he notes that “families often forget about home-related tax breaks. Many states offer first-time (the name is confusing as it is not always just for a first home) homebuyer tax breaks for those that haven’t purchased a new home in a while. In addition, homes with new additions and upgrades are usually eligible for some sort of tax break and these are often forgotten during the tax season as well.”

Get the timing right

Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group, had an interesting observation to make: “We find that many parent homeowners in Baltimore rush to the suburbs as their children become school age to take advantage of the better education system. This typically happens at the end of summer break and these buyers find themselves paying a premium for homes and they compete with other families.” Miller points out that in such cases, parents should be investigating private schools before rushing to the suburbs: “In these rushed situations, we recommend that our clients consider private schools in the short-term so they have the ability to purchase a home during the school year when prices are less competitive. Often times,
these savings far outweigh the cost of private school.”

Urban Living

In Washington, DC, many parents-to-be are choosing urban living over the suburbs. Kerry Adams, from TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, notes that “this requires flexible thinking when it comes to space since city living costs more”. As for options, she believes that “Centrally located, amenity-rich condos are a great option – if a two bedroom isn’t in your budget, look for a one bedroom with a den that can double as a nursery.” As Adams notes, this also has its perks: “with an onsite fitness center, you’ll have no excuse for avoiding post-baby workouts. Take advantage of the building’s common areas. You and your partner can take turns escaping to the library or community center for a little quiet time. An elevator is a must – pushing a stroller several flights of stairs while carrying groceries will get old real fast, and might even send you fleeing to the suburbs.”

Get to know the neighborhood

After moving ten times in eleven years, Ali Wenzke learned more than a few things along the way when it comes to moving with kids. She blogs at The Art of Happy Moving on finding ways to be happier throughout the moving process and these are some tips that she wanted to share:

Consider the Neighborhood First and the House Second: Before you fall in love with a house, get to know the neighborhood. Do you see other young families around? How are the schools in the area? Even if you are a new parent, the schools are important – both for your own child and for the resale value of your home.

Look for Sidewalks: Sidewalks are a glorious thing. Whether you’re a city dweller or a suburbanite, there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned stroll around the neighborhood with your baby. Fresh air does wonders for both the parent and the child. It’s how I kept my sanity during those early months.

Factor in the Commute Required to Get Your Bigger Space: A bigger house will not make you happier. However, a long commute does decrease the happiness of both the commuter and the commuter’s family. So, weigh the pros and cons of moving away to get a bigger space and try to shave off as much commute time as possible.”

All views expressed are contributors’ own.

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