Buying a family house is a little different from buying your dream bachelor pad or a cosy apartment suitable for newlywed professionals. There are a whole host of other considerations when children are part of the equation.
Consider the Layout
You need more space when there are kids around, but not all space is equal. You also need to consider safety and convenience in the way the house is organised.
Often, this can mean leaving quaint or period properties on the shelf. For instance, that three story town house might have all the rooms you need and be close to the shops, but lots of stairs can be a safety issue for small kids. You may be better off looking for a more conventionally laid out house, with bedrooms all on the same floor so children can find you easily if they wake in the night.
Likewise, inefficient heating or draughty windows in an otherwise perfect house, might be something adults can live with while they save for replacements, but impractical for young families. Small children don’t thrive in cold, damp atmospheres, so if you can’t afford instant upgrades when you move in, it might be best to look elsewhere for the sake of the kids.
Know the Hidden Costs
There’s far more expense involved in buying a house than simply the purchase price. Some of those hidden costs include:
- Stamp duty: Payable on any property valued over £125,000.
- Survey costs: Buying without a survey is risky, but if the survey throws up anything that makes you nervous enough to pull out of the deal, you’ve lost the money. Budget for two or three surveys to be on the safe side.
- Legal fees: There are various legal fees involved in property purchase, including conveyancing, mortgage arranging and valuations.
- Removal costs: These needn’t be huge if you’re moving locally, but moving further afield can easily run up bills of thousands.
Factor in all these costs so there are fewer unpleasant surprises. There are still bound to be costs you didn’t think of, so overestimate what you need to provide a bit of leeway.
Organise Financing Early
If you need a mortgage, arrange this before you even start looking. Lenders won’t make an actual offer until they can see which property you want to borrow against, but many will offer a mortgage in principle (MIP). Having this in place gives you a huge edge when it comes to negotiating prices.
Another tip is to check your credit score before applying for a mortgage, then take time to do any corrective work if it’s not as good as you’d like.
Choose Location with Care
Location is important for anyone, but especially for families. When you find a house you like, check out the schools in league tables, and visit local amenities.
Have a walk around the neighbourhood (not just a quick drive) as walking shows you more. Look for signs of regular maintenance such as tended gardens and clean cars, no litter or graffiti. Pop into the local pub and find out what sort of clientele it attracts. You can also check crime-mapping websites to learn about burglaries, break-ins or anti-social behaviour.
Make Use of Property Finders
There’s more than one way to find the perfect house these days. As well as popular websites like Rightmove and Zoopla, another alternative is to hire the services of professional property buyers who will track down properties on your behalf.
Often, they can find an available property before it even comes on the market thanks to extensive networks and local knowledge. If you’re moving out of your known area, they can be especially valuable in saving you wasted travel time looking at unsuitable houses, or risking buying into dodgy neighbourhoods because you didn’t know better.
While there’s more to take into consideration when buying a house for the family, many of the factors remain the same. Diligent homework, sound finances, and careful research are key to making good, property-buying decisions.