Team Pinto's Essential Guide to Purchasing a Family Home in Waterloo Region
It's called a starter home for a reason: it's not designed to be a permanent residence you'll occupy for the rest of your life. If your family is set to expand, you may be considering whether or not to purchase a larger home. A life transition, such as the birth of a child, was the primary motivator over the last five years for 26% of Canadian homebuyers between the ages of 30 and 39 to look for and purchase a new house.
Whether you already own a home or not, there are many things to think about when purchasing a home for your family. You will need to consider what you require from your new home and how your decision to buy a new Waterloo Region home will impact your finances and other aspects of your life.
What to Consider When Buying a House for Your Family
There's more to buying a home for a family than ensuring that it has the correct amount of bedrooms or a functional kitchen. Here are a few things to consider as you begin your search for a home for your growing family:
Consider the size of your family today and what the size of your family might be in the near future. You and your partner may be expecting your first child, or you may have recently had a baby. Do you plan to be a one-child household, or do you hope to grow your family beyond that?
If you have plans to continue adding to your family, you may want to look for a house to grow into. If you purchase a one- or two -bedroom home right now, your family could outgrow it quicker than you’d like. So while you may not need three bedrooms right now, is that something likely to change in the next five years?
Your (Realistic) Budget
Consider your budget carefully before purchasing a larger and probably more expensive property, just like you did when purchasing your first home or determining how much rent you could afford. How much will you get from the sale of your property if you own it?
It's often best to err on the side of caution when creating a budget. If you and your spouse both work, it can be a good idea to figure out how much house you can afford based on just one of your incomes. That way, even if one of you loses your work, or needs to take some extended leave, you'll still be able to pay your mortgage.
What You'll Do With Your Current Home
If you own your present home, make a decision about what you want to do with it before you start shopping for a new one. It's usually best to sell your current home first so you don't have to pay two mortgages. Selling your current home before looking for a new one or making an offer on one can also provide you peace of mind that you'll be able to afford the down payment and closing costs for your next home.
Must-Have Family Amenities
Make a list of the features you must have before looking for a home for your growing family, such as a garage, a full basement, or a large backyard. Concentrate on features that you won't be able to change once you buy the house or that will be difficult to change.
For example, you can always renovate a kitchen or finish a basement, but expanding a small backyard or adding another story to your home can be challenging and expensive, to say the least.
Your Other Expenditures
When you buy a bigger house, your mortgage payment is likely to rise. However, it's not the only cost of living that's set to increase. If you relocate to a larger, more costly property, you may face higher property taxes as well as higher utility expenses. There's also the expense of moving and buying new furnishings to consider.
What to Look for in a Waterloo Region Family Home
After you've evaluated the overall overview of buying a new home, it's time to concentrate on the specific features you want in your new home. The size of the house, the number of rooms it has, and its location can all have an impact on how comfortable you and your family feel living there.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to determining what you want in your family home. What counts most in your decision is what works best for you, your partner, and your children. Here are some things to consider when house hunting with your family in mind:
Overall Home Size
It's a good idea to begin your home search with a rough estimate of the size of home you want. You can use a number to aid you, such as the square footage or the number of rooms. For instance, you might want a bedroom for each member of your family, as well as a guestroom and a space for an office or leisure area. Consider the size of the backyard you prefer as well as any additional features you might want, such as a garage or storage shed.
Number of Bedrooms and Bathrooms
What number of bedrooms do you need? In addition to having enough rooms for each member of your family at this time, you may want a home that allows for future expansion and has more bedrooms than you currently require.
The number of bathrooms in your new home is also something to consider. If you have a small family, you might believe that one bathroom is sufficient. However, as your child grows older, you may find that having a second bathroom, whether it's a full-size bathroom or a powder room off the living room, is beneficial. You and your partner may also like having your own en-suite in the house's main bedroom.
Along with the number of bathrooms, consider what type of fixtures they contain. A shower stall without a tub might be a good fit when only adults live in your home. But it’s often easier for babies, toddlers, and young children to wash up or be bathed in a tub. You may want to look for a house that has a least one bathtub to make bath time easier for everyone.
General Home Layout
Some home layouts or floor plans make more sense than others, and some are better suited for families with children. Consider the location of the bedrooms in the new home. Will your bedroom be close to your child’s so you can hear them if they have a bad dream and call out in the middle of the night?
Also, think about the location of the bathrooms. Having at least one bathroom on each floor can be convenient, as can having a bathroom located near the kids’ rooms and one near or attached to the main bedroom.
Unfinished Vs. Finished Basement
A finished basement expands the house's footprint and provides more usable space. Once your children begin school, they can utilize the basement as a play area or a study room. You can also utilize it to entertain guests in your home as a bar or lounge space.
You could opt to purchase a home with an unfinished basement or other areas that need to be renovated or finished. Buying a house that needs some maintenance opens up a lot of possibilities.
For example, you could convert the basement into an in-law apartment or a master bedroom. If you have the time to work on home improvement projects, buying a house that needs renovation could be a cost-effective approach to save money while also making your new family home seem more like it's uniquely your own.
Outdoor Living Space
One of the main reasons people relocate when they start a family or when their family grows is to take advantage of more outside space. Consider the size of the yard at your new house if you want space for your kids to run around and play, or if you want a place for your pets to run around.
Aside from the size, the layout and design of the yard should also be taken into account. Is it fenced in, or do you have the ability to easily add one for privacy and security? Is the yard reasonably flat or on a hill? The proximity of the yard to the street is also worth noting. Even if you have a fence, you may want to look for a yard that is set back from the road to prevent your children or dogs from running into the street.
If you plan to send your children to public school, the district a particular house is situated in may make or break your interest in it. Even if you don’t want to send your kids to public school, it can still be worthwhile to look for a home in a popular district, as the quality of schools around a property often affects its resale value.
The general location of the home is another thing to look for. What can the neighborhood offer you and your family? You might want to look for playgrounds nearby, local cafes or restaurants, and easy access to shopping. Research the neighborhood before putting in an offer. Is it the type of place where people feel comfortable taking a walk or do people mainly drive around in their cars?
If you’re in search of that dream Waterloo Region family home, contact Team Pinto. Let us use our huge local real estate experience and expertise to help you. Contact us directly here, or book a free Zoom consultation to discuss your unique Waterloo Region real estate needs at a time that's most convenient for you.