Looking for a new home to fit your growing family? Realtors tell you the keys to finding a baby-friendly house.
They're not just pros at floor plans and financing. These realtors know exactly what you should keep on the top of your mind when searching for a baby-friendly house. Check out their top tips:
Don't Rush to Buy
If you settle on a home just because you're expecting, you may make a decision you'll regret. I once had a young couple who wanted a one-story home with a yard and ended up buying a two-story home with a pool that left no green space. Several years later, they told me they'd been living with baby gates on the stairs and never used the backyard because the pool was a safety concern. The instinct to nest is understandable, but the truth is babies don't need much space and they don't care whether they live in a house, condo, or apartment. Waiting also allows you to see what is truly in your budget once you become a parent. You will have less flexibility if you're locked into a mortgage that's too high. Be patient. It'll pay off!
-Cynthia Silver of Century 21 Martinez & Associates in Las Vegas
Prioritize the Neighborhood
A lot of parents-to-be tell me school districts don't matter to them because this is their starter home. They plan to sell before their child enrolls. But kindergarten will be here before you know it, and you may not be able to afford to move again in five years. You're better off buying something smaller in a great school district and a welcoming neighborhood -- for your peace of mind and later for resale value. To get a feel for the vibe of a potential area, drive around at different times of day -- like on weekdays when school is out, or on Sunday afternoons to see if families are out playing.
-Steve Goddard of RE/MAX Estate Properties in Manhattan Beach, California
RELATED: Buying a House
Look Hard at the Layout
Think about how you're really going to live in the space as a family. Homes with first-floor master bedrooms are hot in the market right now, but they're not ideal if you have a baby or young kids whose bedrooms are upstairs and you have to run up there in the middle of the night. Or you might think you want a formal dining room, but I can't tell you how many times I've shown a house where it has been converted into a playroom by a young family. The ability to keep an eye on the baby while you're in the kitchen or living room ends up being more important than dinner parties. Also be wary of open floor plans. Couples get sold on the airiness of it and don't consider how tricky it will be to gate off.
-Sandra O'Conor of Allen Tate Realtors in Greensboro, North Carolina
If you do make an offer, don't let your love of the house distract you from the reality of certain problems. Hire a good inspector to thoroughly test for lead, especially if the home was built before 1978. Lead exposure can cause serious health problems, particularly in young children, including developmental delays. The inspector should also rule out radon and check for termites. To find out how well a home has been maintained, the roof, electrical system, and exterior should be examined. If problems are found, you can hire a contractor to estimate costs for repairs.
-Lindsay Alteri of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Cary, North Carolina
5 Baby Items You Can Live Without
Originally published in the June 2015 issue of American Baby magazine.