House Hunting While Expecting? Don’t Forget About These Things

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As a mom-to-be, I had one thing in mind when my husband and I were recently house hunting while expecting: a space that was ideal for our growing family. We were no longer just looking for a home that was perfect for both of us, but instead, we had to think about our soon-to-be family of three (or someday even more!).

As if house hunting wasn’t hard enough, the “future family factor” can make the process even more daunting. If you’re expecting, or hope to start a family someday, then you’ll definitely want to keep the factors below in mind when searching for the home of your family’s dreams.

Floor Space

The most obvious and non-negotiable place to start is the size of any prospective home. Will it be able to accommodate you and your partner, along with one or more kids? Ask yourself these questions:

Where are the bedrooms located to one another?

Of, course you want to have enough bedrooms, but that alone isn’t enough. Like someone sketching out the perfect blueprint, you’ll want to consider where the bedrooms are located to one another. It’s preferable to have all the bedrooms on the same floor, so they can easily get to their child’s room at night.

Is there more than one bathroom?

Surprising nobody, people will walk away from incredible arrangements if this single factor is off – and it’s no wonder why. Whether this is your forever home or not, multiple family members getting ready for work and school in one tiny bathroom won’t cut it long-term.

Are stairs going to be a factor for you? (Probably.)

Parents who are city dwellers know how difficult it can be if you live on the third floor of a walk-up building. Even after pregnancy, bringing a stroller, a baby and groceries up and down three flights of stairs is quite the trek! Especially if you’re at the beginning of your family adventure, stairs may be a major factor to consider.

Is there an open floor plan?

These days, open floor plans are the most desirable, as parents can keep an eye on their kids playing while making dinner. Make sure whatever layout you choose is one that works well for you and your kid’s safety.

Where are you gonna store extra stuff?

Kids come with a lot of stuff. Strollers, clothing, toys, sports equipment … is there storage space for all of these things in your potential home? Make sure you have a concrete plan to contain the clutter!

Safety Concerns

Even if there weren’t any kids to consider, safety is a priority when house hunting. Add kids to the mix and you become even that much more aware of potential safety hazards that lurk in a potential property.

Is this home near a busy street?

A busy street can be a potential deterrent for a number of factors. First, it may be pretty noisy which isn’t ideal for sleeping babies, trust us. But (somehow) even more importantly, you don’t want your kids playing in a yard that’s on a street with lots of traffic. Here’s a protip: Google Maps highlights streets by their traffic. The darker the color, the more that’s “happening” there. A double-edged sword, to be sure!

What about a fence?

A fence in the backyard or front yard may be a priority for some expanding families, as it allows kids to roam the patio without wandering off too far. If there isn’t a fence (and you want one), budget in the cost of adding one when checking out potential properties.

Can kids play in the neighborhood?

When house hunting, you’ll want to get a feel for the neighborhood. If kids are out riding their bikes and playing in the streets, it may be a kid-friendly spot where your future kiddos can hang with their neighbors. If you want to get a feel for the crime rate, there are definitely handy websites that show you the police blotter for any given area. Your notes shouldn’t begin and end at the front door!

How far are you from your personal doctor or an urgent care/hospital location?

You know that scene in movies where a nervous husband carts his “in-labor-and-about-to-burst” wife into the car before zooming through traffic? Well, planning out where the hospital is not a one-and-done trick. While we hope you won’t be using this route often, make sure where your health insurance is accepted and where you live aren’t majorly out of sync. Speaking of this tip …

Location

Location, location, location. It’s always the number one factor when buying a home of any kind. But throw a kid or two into the mix and where you live is more important than the view.

What’s the school district like?

We’ve chatted all about the importance of house hunting with a school district in mind on the HireAHelper blog before, and we maintain this shouldn’t be overlooked. Do your research, look into the numbers, and make sure you’re in a school district where your children can thrive!

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How long does it take to get to school?

When my husband was a kid, he had to take a 30-minute bus ride to the other side of town for school every single day. If you don’t think about this before buying, trust us, you will afterward. Can your child walk to school? Can you drop them off on the way to work? Is the bus ride manageable? Even if your kid is far from their first words, this is a crucial variable to think about when searching for your perfect home.

Are there other families in your neighborhood?

When narrowing down locations, it may be beneficial to take a stroll through the neighborhood on a weekend afternoon. Are there young families at the park? Are the kids a lot older? Is the demographic mostly older people without families? Do some research online (like with this app) and get a feel for the demographics of the neighborhood to see if your future family will fit right in. It helps to have a helping hand and a night out once and awhile!

Where’s the closest park/library/swimming pool?

When you’re a parent, you want to keep your kids entertained to prevent anyone from saying the b-word (no, “bored”). Having parks, libraries, swimming pools and other fun activities nearby is always a good idea. Nobody wants to have to make a field trip out of every excursion.


Starting a family. Buying a home. These are big milestones for anyone! But combining these two life events? You’ve got the recipe for a lot of important decision-making. Our advice is to be thoughtful, consider every angle, and think about your life 5, 10, or even 25 years from now. That way, you’ll be certain you’re making the best choice for you and your future family no matter what it looks like.

The Must-Read Guide to Prepare for Your Home Inspection As a Buyer

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Let’s back up to right before you schedule your home inspection.

Chances are you just signed a contract, which means the lender, realtor and lawyers are probably already approaching you with their list of requests. You need to get your current home on the market, you probably have a busy job and a few kiddos at home, and life has officially taken a turn to Crazytown!

But just because things are busy doesn’t mean you should neglect your obligatory home inspection. Not only can not giving attention to your home inspection impact the sale, but the results could cost you well into your future if you’re not prepared. This must-read guide gives you all of the facts you need to have for scheduling your home inspection, with helpful tips on how you can make the most of this tedious step … even amidst the chaos of buying and selling!   

What will a home inspection cost me?

Home InspectionA quality home inspection will cost you, the homebuyer, about $250-$400 depending on the size of the home. As much as these unexpected expenses seem endless during the moving process, this is one expense you do not want to skip. Hiring a quality inspector can make such a significant difference to highlight the good, bad and potentially dangerous components of your new home. You want to make sure you hire an inspector who is licensed and knowledgeable … even if that costs a few extra bucks. This tiny investment can save you thousands of dollars (and a lot of heartache) in the long run.

How do I find a quality inspector?

Home Inspection

So you know you want to invest in a quality inspector, but you’re not really sure where to find one. You’re not alone! The best place to look is your realtor. If you really trust your realtor, she probably has some recommendations. Usually, realtors come to their buyers’ inspections, so chances are they have met a lot of inspectors and have seen which ones are thorough and which ones aren’t.

Says Lexi Newman, a real estate agent heading Lexi Newman Real Estate out of the Los Angeles area, “I’ve observed countless inspections over the years, and while some inspectors spend hours examining every nook and cranny and then doing additional research at home, others breeze on through doing the bare minimum.”

Again, you want to squeeze every bit of usefulness you can out of every step of the process. Continues Newman,
“Your realtor attends inspections day in and day out, knows what constitutes a quality inspection, and can point you in the right direction … Find out if the inspector is certified with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Ask them how long they’ve been inspecting, if they come from a construction or contracting background, and what they did professionally before becoming a home inspector. Also, find out what sort of report they put together and how fast they are able to send it to you -this is a crucial part of repair negotiations during escrow, and a quick turnaround time is extremely important so your realtor has time to negotiate.”

And if you don’t love your realtor? Try speaking with friends or neighbors for their recommendations. The bottom line is that you should always go with someone who has good “cred” with someone else you trust and respect. There’s too much riding on the line to go with someone who hasn’t proven to be anything less than amazing.

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How long will the inspection take?

The time for an inspection varies based on the size of the home you are purchasing and how thorough your inspector is. On average, we suggest allowing for at least two hours, but on the long end, it’s usually not any longer than three hours. 

What should I bring to the inspection?

Home Inspection

Some inspectors expect payment at the completion of the inspection, so be sure to have an approved payment method ready for the cost of the inspection on hand. Beyond that, we suggest wearing casual clothes in case the inspector wants to bring you into the deep nooks and crannies of the basement or attic to educate you about future maintenance. This is not required of course, but it is a sign of a great inspector!

We also think it’s extremely important for you to bring these things:

  • Notebook
  • A pen
  • Cell phone camera
  • Measuring tape

And here’s why …

What else can I do while the inspection is happening?

This may be the last time you have access to your new home until the final walk through (or even closing day!), so be as prepared as possible to get the most out of this critical time. Of course, your first priority is following along with the home inspector and listening to them as they relay observations, maintenance tips or stats on any of the home’s mechanicals. There will be a lot of information coming your way, which is why the pen and notebook will come in handy to jot down all of these tips.

However, there’s another important opportunity here!

Your homeowner’s insurance company will request information about your new dwelling in order to prepare an insurance quote over the next few weeks. Usually, they request information about the mechanics and age of specific parts of the home (like the roof) for the end proposal. Sometimes they even have discounts available if parts of your home were recently replaced, so getting all this information while your home inspector is with you is a great way to be ahead of the game for the insurance team.

What should I do if the inspector doesn’t want me tagging along?

Home Inspection

Sometimes home inspectors don’t want you following them from room to room taking notes while they create a detailed report. In that case, we still think you should keep busy doing the following things. First, take as many photos as possible of the home, and specifically, these things:

  • The layout
  • Outlets
  • Doors
  • Anything you want to change when you move-in

The last one will help you calculate how much time you’ll need in order to have everything you need by moving day.

Because you probably won’t have access to the home until the day (or day before) closing, these photos will be a very helpful reference. If you have enough time, we also recommend taking your phone and creating a simple video of the home. Why? We find that if we forget to snap a photo of something, we can still find the information we need by looking through the video footage. Plus, having this video for your memory will be fun to look back at someday!

Also, take measurements now!

Do you love the size of the current homeowner’s dining room table, TV, or sectional couch? Measure these items so you can start furniture shopping without problems! Rugs especially can be a tricky accessory because they are often too small for a space. If you find that a previous homeowner has done the rug sizes correctly, take a measurement and make note. Virtually anything you think looks good (or bad for that matter), get it jotted down so you don’t forget. (Trust us, you will forget.)

What should I make sure I get from the inspector?

After the home inspection is complete, you should receive a detailed written report from the inspector. You will need this report to negotiate improvements with the current owner, or in extreme cases, to back out of your original contract. Save this report in your files even if you plan on moving forward with the sale with no issues. 

Is there anything else I should probably know?

Home Inspection

If you really like your home inspector after the inspection is over, don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals for other professionals in the industry.

If you are looking for someone to eventually come fix the HVAC or maybe update the gutters after you move in, inspectors often have some really great contacts to share. Or at the very least, be sure to grab their contact information so you can follow-up later when you’re looking for referrals for just about any job around the house.

Also, don’t be afraid of asking too many questions! These people are professionals and often have an endless wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things home-related. Some important things people often forget to ask:

  • Inquire about all specific mechanics in the home (e.g., furnaces, vents, switches, attic fan, etc.)
  • How often you should be servicing, cleaning or updating these specific items
  • The most updated codes to uphold
  • Routines of services providers (e.g., cable, water, electrical companies, etc.)

It’s overall just smart to ask too much versus too little. Remember that inspection time is mostly for you, not the inspector, so make use of this important moment in your home buying journey!

These Things Should Always Be Deal Breakers While House Hunting

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We’ve talked before about things you should overlook when house hunting, but being flexible and seeing past a home’s imperfections isn’t always the thing to do.

Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of things that should be overlooked because they can easily be changed down the road. However, some things should never be overlooked. We like to call them “deal breakers”.

Making a list of your deal breakers is essential to finding the perfect home for now and well into the future. That’s why the things on this list should be non-negotiable. Seriously, don’t get emotionally attached to something that will create resentment down the road. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your family to create your own list of deal breakers before your house hunting adventure begins, but we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones in order for you to jump-start the process!

A Real Potential for Water Damage

House Hunting Deal Breaker - Water Damage

A lot of household problems can be fixed, but being subject to water damage is one that is not even close to an easy fit. Before committing to a house, be sure to research if it’s in a flood zone. (FEMA has a handy website that can search all flood areas by address.) Also, take notice of its elevation on the block compared to other homes. Is this house at the lowest point on the street? Will your basement constantly be at risk of flooding and causing you large problems and even larger repair bills? Make sure you look very closely for any signs of water damage.

Do your research so that you know exactly what you are getting into, and are not surprised by a flooded basement after the first rain in your new home.

(All Different Kinds of) Safety Concerns
House Hunting Deal Breaker - Safety Concerns

Safety concerns are a very broad category, so it’s important that you get as specific as possible when creating your house hunting deal breaker list. Safety concerns with electronics can be caused by amateur workmanship, such as plumbing or electrical problems. But this could also be caused by other household issues, such as:

Check the links for helpful ways to test for common safety concerns. Before you buy any house, let alone a suspect one, make sure to hire an inspector. If they report any problems, know exactly what issues result in you walking away from the deal and which ones you are willing to deal with (and potentially pay for!). Having this information clear before the home buying process will allow you to remain objective during this emotional time.

Below Average School District

If you have kids, be sure to investigate the local school district before you buy a home in that district. Niche.com provides a comprehensive look at most every school system in the country, including elementary, middle and high schools. You can also look at schools individually!

House Hunting Deal Breaker - Poor School District

Even if you don’t have kids, we still encourage you to do the same because that school district will impact the resale value of your home in the long run and should be considered before you purchase.

Structural Damage to the Home’s Base

House Hunting Deal Breaker - Structural Damage

Structural damage in a home can cause some serious problems down the road, not to mention what a nightmare it would be to try to re-sell a home that has these large issues. It’s important to consider this when house hunting in order to avoid large project costs down the road. Look for shifting of the home in cracks, uneven floors or a drooping roof to identify potential structural damage. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to Google a contractor or professional so they can assess the situation and reassure you the house is a safe long-term investment.

Unless you are buying a foreclosure for pennies on the dollar, structural damage is certain to massively impact your investment in a negative way.

A Floor Plan That Doesn’t Work for Your Family

House Hunting Deal Breaker - Bad Bones aka Floorplan

All rooms can be rearranged, redecorated, repainted or even switched around, depending on your family’s needs. However, don’t trick yourself: a sweet overlook may be cool, but the layout of the home or the square footage of the home is not so easily changed, especially without a massive budget and an extra-large construction project. Are you looking to double your investment by knocking out walls?

It’s okay to look past the cosmetic upgrades in a home, but don’t look past what the pros call “the bones” of the house: the layout, the number of rooms, the number of bathrooms or again, even simply the square footage. The bones are permanent and will directly impact your lifestyle. Are you willing to change your life just for that sweet view?

House Hunting Outside of Your Price Range 

House Hunting Deal Breaker - Over Budget

Buying a home out of your price range is a slippery slope and a financial decision that can put a lot of stress and pressure on you and your family.

It is also the most common deal breaker people ignore!

If you have a strict budget you need to follow, adding this deal breaker to your house hunting checklist will be a great way to “check yourself” and make sure that you are coming in under budget and not putting an unnecessary strain on you, your marriage, or your family. Besides, it is almost always better to invest in a cheaper property than to live with what you cannot afford.

What’s on Your House Hunting Deal Breaker Checklist?

All of these may fall on your house hunting deal breaker checklist, or maybe some of them… or maybe none at all. Technically, the most important thing is shedding light on the fact that people don’t often consider deal breakers ahead of hunting for a house. That’s why a house hunting checklist is crucial to avoid getting emotionally invested and making an impulsive decision that you’ll regret later on.

Remember the biggest rule: once you agree on which deal breakers gets added to the checklist, you cannot purchase any home that has even one of the things on it, regardless of how adorable it may look! This cute house may look great now, but it probably isn’t the best investment for the long run. Hold strong, the right one will come along… it always does!

These Paint Colors Have the Best Resale Value

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As DIY bloggers, we frequently get questions from our readers about things they see in our homes. But by far the most asked question is, “What is that paint color in your house?”  (more…)

4 Cases Where You Really Should Move to Save Money

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It’s true what they say: there’s never a “perfect” time to move. But sometimes making that decision is the best thing for you and your family.

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Showing Your Home? These Are the First Impressions That Matter

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To us, staging your home to sell is similar to going on a first date.

You set up this date in hopes to meet your future spouse. You don’t know if that’ll be the case but there’s always the hope, right? If you’re hoping to land “the one”, chances are you’re going to put some effort into prepping for this first date. We feel the same is true when it comes to staging your home to sell.

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Updated Garages Add Massive Value to Homes, so Here Are 5 Sweet Upgrades

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Your garage could be much more than a catch-all for excess junk accumulated over the years. It has the potential to be an aesthetic and functional extension of your home. That is if you’ve done the work to make it a usable space.

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Is Your Move Tax-Deductible? It Might Be for Almost 8 Million Americans

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Did you move for work last year? Did you pay for any of it yourself?

If you answered yes to both these questions, Uncle Sam wants to help!

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The Do’s and Don’ts For Shooting Your Own Real Estate Photos

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When it comes to selling your home, it’s all about making that good online impression. The only way to get serious buyers to physically see your home in person is to hook them online. And honestly, the quickest way to do that is with some amazing real estate photography!

But let’s be real – hiring a professional photographer isn’t always in the budget. If you’re looking to save money by snapping your own pics, then we’ve got some great tips for you to keep in mind when you’re roaming your place, camera in hand.

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