If you have small children and are just starting your family, your first family home should be considered a “stepping stone”. Most new families are not at the point where they can afford their final home nor do they know how big their family will end up being. This is the time when you really need to compromise on “wants” and stick with “needs”, while being very practical.
When choosing your first home keep in mind that it really is all about the location. The old saying that these three things matter when buying a home – “location, location and location”, are true. This is mainly because you want easy and profitable resale, acquire the largest down payment possible, so you can move up to your final or larger home to accommodate your growing family. One of the most important factors in choosing the home itself is that you do not have any internal or external functional issues that would cause the house to sell for less than maximum price, or might cause it to take longer to sell. Some of these issues to avoid are:
Try to stick with at least 3+ bedrooms and 2+ baths which is the minimum standard for a starter home, and when re-selling have the largest buyer pool. Having only 2 bedrooms or 1 bath will make it more difficult to resell.
Watch out for homes located in direct view or adjacent to power lines, commercial buildings or mobile homes.
Make sure it is not located on a busy road or back to a busy road or visibility to a freeway.
Master bedroom upstairs takes longer to resell in the DFW area. Buyers prefer master bedroom down.
Avoid strange entry situations. Doors within a bedroom directly accesses the garage. Who wants the family walking in from the garage through a bedroom to the rest of the house?
Wandering rooms – this is a situation where you have to walk through many rooms to get to other rooms and there are a lack of hallways to access different areas of the house. There should generally be areas that make paths through to other rooms.
Sunrooms. These might look nice upon viewing and add extra square footage, but think about when your kids are playing in the backyard or you would like to grill in the backyard. It will usually block the view to the yard and cause you a lot of grief opening extra doors to take food in and when grilling.
Research communities by pulling up the community libraries, parks and recreation facilities. All 15 market areas surrounding DFW are located in this website with links to the City websites, google maps and most community recreation facilities: http://www.thebinderteam.com/local-areas/. This will enable you to know what is available for recreation with your family close by.
Also, check the State sex offender list:https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/sexoffender/. This list offers a map showing you where the registered offenders live. Keep in mind there are many. You just want to be aware and to make sure they are not directly next door to your new house. Also, if you have questions about the subdivision you are considering, you can always call the local police precinct and ask about crime in the area.
Once you get a feel for the final size of your family and get promoted at the job, you will feel the need to seek out your final home to raise the family. You will have a lot of wants based on the daily family dynamics. It’s time to move up in the world and make that transition. Again, it is still all about location as mentioned above, but with an extra added emphasis on school districts. How do you research schools? Here are a few ways:
GreatSchools.net is a website that is has school rankings by parents. This is a great way to see how many parents are involved in knowing about the schools which also = involved with their kids.
Check on the feeder high school drop-out rates as well as the SAT/ACT scoring. Compare to nationwide and Statewide scores. These test scores are national and have the same scoring measurements for very easy comparison. The State school ratings are based on that State’s testing and can hard to measure. The State testing is not the reliable standard to measure schools.
Park in front of the proposed elementary, middle or high school and watch the students when they get out of school or arrive at school. What better way to see the kids that will be involved with your kids?
As far as the house itself, this is a necessary to make sure there is enough space for the family to be comfortable and that there are quiet locations for homework, playing indoors and having family time. You may want to insure there is a 2nd living room that will accommodate your kids as a play room. You may or may not want to hear the noise of children while they are playing, depending on the age. Double check the sound from the other living area to see if someone can comfortably do activities in another area of the house while there is some noise in that 2nd living area.
Stay away from “stacked formals” as a location for that 2nd living area. These are formal living and dining room areas that are seen at the point of entry into the house. Back in the day these were meant for nothing but formal meals and formal guests and formal furniture, but today, they are becoming obsolete. If the formal living area is your only 2nd living area, then the children can use it as a play room, but their toys will be visible upon entering the house and your house will continually have the look of being cluttered. The playroom living area is best on a 2nd level or some other location away from the 1st living area or away from the front door. Some homes have a children’s retreat which is a small game room off the secondary bedrooms and this is ideal. Some have a game room upstairs, also ideal!
If you work from home or find that you need quiet time to do crafts or other hobbies, then a study is a must have. Studies are rooms that enclosed like a bedroom but have no closet. While you can always use an extra bedroom as a study, nothing beats an actual room designated to be used as an office, with the ability to shut the door.
Parents also like to have an area where kids can do homework. These days, it is necessary for kids to have access to computers for school. It is ideal to have a computer space built into the home that might be located in the kitchen or near the kitchen where the kids can be monitored while on the computer, something that would be suited as a “homework” space for the kids but somewhat in the open for parents to monitor for safety while at the same time assisting with questions that might come up. In addition, there is now the ability to put USB outlet chargers right in the wall in these areas for the cell phones, Ipads and computers to be charged. It can also serve to be an areas to keep all the technology where you can separate healthy time for you and your kids away from technology.
Overall, location is the most important aspect of choosing a home for your family and safety is of utmost importance. This is your haven, the place for your family’s comfort and security. Make sure to do the research for your desired neighborhood prior to looking at houses. It will save you a lot of mistakes and grief!