I work with a lot of families to buy and sell real estate in the East Bay, and it can be a lot to juggle – looking at houses, entertaining small children, and thinking about how your family would fit in the home, where the kids would go to school, and would you feel comfortable in the neighborhood. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when you are house shopping with your kids:
1. Be strategic
Don’t plan to see 12 properties in one afternoon. Plan to see only the top prospects, and let’s schedule another visit for the others. As your Realtor, it’s my job to be your personal shopper and preview properties for you.
2. Distract them
Bring some toys, an art project and/or an electronic device. Bring a sketchpad and crayons or stickers, some toys or a puzzle so your older child can stay occupied (in case we’re there for awhile). Lots of parents feel guilty about letting their kids play on their mobile devices, but shopping for a home takes focus and you need to be able to breathe and take in the space around you. Don’t beat yourself up if what works for your child is an episode of Blues Clues or some time in the world of Minecraft. You can also plan to take turns looking at properties if there are two of you, so your children can feel connected to you during the process, and everyone will feel more relaxed.
3. The value of a school is more than just test scores
When you are looking at a home for your family, school is almost always a factor. There are great resources for parents like Berkeley Parents Network, Education.com GreatSchools, EBISA (East Bay Independent Schools Assn) and individual school websites. Of course, you should also plan on visiting the local schools themselves and speaking with teachers, parents and principals to help you assess if it’s the right choice for your family.
4. Check out kid/family-friendly amenities
Look near the homes you are considering. Is a park or playground in walking distance? How close is the library and how is there children’s section? Is there a farmer’s market, bakery or café nearby? Who delivers pizza? Where will you get groceries or a last-minute gallon of milk?
For some families, outdoor space and land is more important than proximity to amenities. As long as you are clear on your priorities for your family, I can help you narrow your search to find properties that suit you. If walkability or nearby transit for your commute is important, websites like walkscore.com can help you determine how pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly an area is.
5. Talk to the neighbors
Buyers can glean a lot of information from talking with the neighbors, and I highly recommend it to all my clients, especially families. You want to feel comfortable in your home and in your neighborhood – whether that’s your block, your building, or the wider community – ask questions. Most neighbors want to tell you what they think. Is it important to you if there are other kids on the block? Is there a neighborhood group or email list you could join? Are there any safety issues you want to explore? Will you feel at home in your new home?
I’ve got lots of experience working with families and am happy to talk with you about yours. Want to share some of your tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.