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Tips for Buying a House for a Growing Family

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Couples who are happy with that small apartment or comfy bungalow know that one of the many things that change in starting a family is space – “We definitely need something bigger!”

The licensed real estate agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker Preferred are ready to help you make that leap.  What features will you need?  Where will you want to locate?  How much can you afford?

“Most of my clients are in the city,” says Philadelphia real estate agent Rachel Rothbard, “so new families want a basement, a powder room on the first floor and some yard space.  And parking for at least one car, plus the stroller needs to get easily through the front door.”

Realtors Noel Stinson and Diane Reddington agree that a basement – hopefully a finished one – is at the top of the list for their clients as well.  “If there is a choice between basement and garage, the basement wins out,” Reddington says.  But the importance of yard space – or at least a big one – is changing, Stinson says.  “Usually, both husband and wife have jobs,” she says, “and taking care of lawn and garden isn’t high on their priorities.”

When it comes to location, all three say that the first question is about school districts, unless private schooling is planned, and that they will supply all available facts and figures according to location.  Next comes the affordability of the desired neighborhood or town.

After that, there are two other common location needs, one traditional, one that is somewhat new.  “How many kids are in the neighborhood is a common question,” Stinson says, but all three realtors point to another factor growing in importance – convenience in commuting and in the activities of daily life.

“I’ve been in the business for a long time,” Reddington says, “and more people than before want to be within walking distance to public transportation, and being close to train stations is high on their lists.  Additionally, people want a ‘walkable town,’ which is what makes Ambler so popular.”  But, Stinson adds, when they do get into the car, they want proximity to major travel arteries.

As buying a family home may be the first time apartment residents have bought a home and the first time young couples have sold one, logistics and financing are crucial.  “Even before people get qualified for a loan, I like to meet with them to go through scenarios so there is no sticker shock,” Reddington says.  This usually means juggling how much to budget for mortgage payments and how much to earmark for a down payment, but also to see whether they can handle increasingly escalating settlement costs.  “Plus they may have some repairs or changes they want to do immediately.”

It’s also almost a given that a current home will have to be sold before a new one can be closed, as few sellers will do so on a contingency basis.  Stinson is also adamant on another point: “My biggest advice to family home buyers is to be able to afford the house on one salary, which is hard to do, but it’s not unusual for one of them to lose a job.”

While the financial realities may mean scaling down a dream, but being realistic does mean that the dream of owning a new home for a growing family is much more secure.

To help with your decisions about buying a new family home, find an agent affiliated with Coldwell Banker Preferred at cbpref.com.