The trouble with trying to buy a home with children in mind is that most couples believe they know what children need but after a few years they realise they were wrong. They look at a home and think how good it would be for their kids, only to notice the drawbacks when it is too late. How they wish that somebody had told them in advance what children really require in a house.
Many couples, for instance, look at a house with a vast open-plan area, and think how good it would be for kids to run around in. The fact that there are only a few small rooms with doors seems unimportant. They do not, however, take into account the amount of mess and clutter that comes with children plus a busy lifestyle. Parents who have been through it maintain that it is much better to have plenty of rooms with doors, where it is possible to tuck stuff away.
Next to space, safety issues are usually the biggest concern when looking at an investment property for sale, suitable for children. Many of these are obvious – a street without busy traffic, no pool, wiring and sockets out of children’s reach, however, others are not so obvious. An ordinary staircase, for instance, can be barricaded quite easily, but a short staircase in a split-level property is very hard to barricade off. Moreover, many homes that are supposedly single level have individual steps between rooms, which really cannot be barricaded, but are very dangerous for toddlers. An attached garage can seem very attractive, but houses with attached garages are usually located at the top of a short and steep driveway – very dangerous for small children with bikes.
The advice from those with experience is to look for a house on a genuinely single level, that is, flat – where there are plenty of rooms with doors. The garden should be level and open – rockeries and patios are good for adults, but not for children. Inside, one of the biggest requirements is a big laundry room that can take a big washing machine, essential for parents’ sanity.
An additional consideration, of course, could be that parents want to look for an investment property for sale which they can pass on to their own children when they are older. If it is a place where the children have been happy, maybe they will want to bring up their own kids there. Parents in the US can pass on property to their children through a quit claim deed, giving the children ownership and making them fully responsible. Alternatively, the children can be made joint owners of the house, or the house can be sold to them, with a note of mortgage which is later forgiven. The legal and tax implications of each of these have to be considered.
When a couple are deciding if a house is suitable for kids, the test is – can they expand? If they are going to take up all the available space with their own stuff, there will not be enough room for the children, so they will have to look for somewhere better. If, however, the house ticks all the boxes for this generation, it will also be great to pass on to the next generation.