Remember those days when you were single and a search for the perfect home would be built around a checklist of nearest pubs and restaurants and not a lot else?
As soon as marriage and family comes along, those property searches get a whole lot harder and the checklists a whole lot longer.
House hunting is daunting at the best of times and if you haven't set clear goals, as well as potential compromises, before your search begins, the stress levels can rise even higher.
At Parkers, we are experts in finding homes to suit all kinds of families, but having a clear idea of what you want and what you need before starting the hunt is the best advice we can give.
Here are the things we suggest you put at the top of your list...
PINPOINT A LOCATION
We'll narrow this down later when we get to the school catchments section, but at the beginning of your search it's important to pinpoint good, child-friendly and safe areas you would be happy to live in.
Don't be afraid to have a look around areas first, before you start searching for specific properties. The area in which you live needs to work for your individual needs as much as a house itself. If you need a nursery or pre-school nearby, some areas simply won't cut the mustard.
If you bump into a friendly face or two during your initial visit, ask them about the area and its pros and cons. Look into transport links if you need rail or bus travel to work and check out those bars and restaurants! You're bound to get a night or two off from the children at some stage!
MUST-HAVE VS NICE-TO-HAVE
Compromise is everything when it comes to property hunting. But preparing to compromise is even more important than that!
Draw up a list of things your new home has to have and a separate list of things it would be nice to have.
You're paying a lot of money for the property so, of course, it should meet your needs, but the 'perfect' home is a rare thing. With that in mind, knowing in advance what you are prepared to compromise on will help you do just that when you need to.
Right, the big issue for almost all families when moving home. It's worth remembering at this point that living in a catchment area for a popular and outstanding school can add a large premium to the price you pay for a property.
But families do place good schools right at the top of their list when moving - and we're sure you're no different.
Start by checking out the Ofsted reports for schools in your chosen area. Speak to a local estate agent, who will also be able to advise on the best schools. After that, it's a case of weighing up the good school desire against your budget, taking into account the premium we mentioned earlier.
LOOK YEARS AHEAD
Once you embark on your property search, try to think with both the here and now and the future in mind.
Your children might be small now but they have a habit of growing quickly! How long will it be before you outgrow your new home and would it be better to spend more on a bigger property now or move again when the space becomes to tight?
It's important not to live beyond your means or overstretch yourself financially, of course, so always consider everything with one eye on your budget.
Consider properties with room to grow alongside your family, too. It can be more cost-effective to add to your property rather than pay to move to a bigger one.
OUTDOOR SPACE VS INDOOR SPACE
As your children get older, they are more likely to be drawn towards outdoor space. Again, look to the future. If the property you are considering has plenty of square footage but lacks in garden space, it might not suit you further down the line.
Look for activities and things to do in the local area. An active community and town can take the edge off a smaller outdoor space and may make the property you were questioning perfect after all - both in terms of its longevity and your budget!
For further advice on searching for the perfect family home, contact your local Parkers branch today.