Whether you are thinking about buying your first family home in 2021 or considering moving to a bigger family property, it’s important that with family homes currently being in short supply, you agree on what your priorities are when you search for your new home.
1. What and where you can afford to buy a family home
Make sure you have factored in the fees and costs of moving and just how much you are comfortable borrowing. There are some great mortgage deals around but affordability is key.
Use the internet to get an idea of what similar properties in your road have sold for in recent months. Local independent agents should know their patch and value accordingly.
Remember that property prices can alter depending on where they are located and if they are in a high performing school’s catchment area. Sometimes being a little more flexible about the number of bedrooms you really need or extending your search area can affect what you can afford to spend on a new home.
Think about the importance of parking. When you have a young family you probably want to live somewhere that has off street parking – ideally a private secure driveway or a garage works best for families. If you choose to live in a residential street you should try and check out what on street parking is like at different times of the day. You probably won’t want to be dragging a buggy and bags of shopping too far from your front door.
3. Importance of outside space and security
Having a garden has never seemed so important after months of being forced to stay at home during lockdown.
Making sure you choose the right outdoor space for your family’s enjoyment can be as important as getting the inside accommodation right.
Do think about the overall layout and also how the garden can be accessed from the house. Is there a back or side door as well as a front entrance? If there are patio doors already in situ, are they easy to open and close, are they in good repair, child-safe and practical? Are the property boundaries secure or does fencing need to be replaced, walls repaired, hedges and trees cut back?
Ensure that outside steps, terraces, patios and brickwork are in good condition and level. Loose paving stones can be a hazard for young children and older family members.
Check the existing external lighting and consider if you require more security lighting or solar lighting systems and whether dark corners or tricky outdoor steps and different levels would benefit from improved lighting.
4. Space and storage inside your home
Try to think how you use your space and what really works for all the family. Will a house on three levels mean constantly running up and down stairs or shouting that dinner’s ready? Can you manage with smaller bedrooms or one less bedroom?
Do you prefer open plan living or do you need a quiet private corner or space for working, studying or just having quiet alone time? Is a big kitchen the most important room or is there potential to create a larger space?
Practical useful storage space is key to family life – having a place where you can store boots, coats, toys and domestic clutter can help to keep your home feeling relaxed and you calm. Think about whether you can create built in storage to maximise the use of odd corners and recesses.
5. Lifestyle choices for all the family
If you are already familiar with the area and staying local then you probably already know about what the town’s amenities offer, where the sports centre is, the local parks and football pitches, clubs, societies and community events, the nearest supermarkets, library, cinema, family friendly cafes and restaurants.
If you are moving your family to a new area, then it’s certainly worth asking your local agent about the choice of amenities and activities available for children and finding out about local schools in the area. Looking at Ofsted reports and school league tables is helpful and visiting schools in person is essential.
Checking out community links, social media pages and websites can give you an insight into how child friendly and family orientated a place is and a sense of the local lifestyle. You can research about local walking, cycling and nature trails, places of interest and local history.
Communication and transport links – it’s important to know about the road and rail networks if you are commuting to work or driving to a nursery or school, so you can factor this in to your property search.
Check out Broadband speeds and mobile reception which have become increasingly important for working from home and home schooling. If you are planning to work from home or set up a business and have children with multiple devices accessing data, then you need to make sure the network infrastructure and technology are available.