Is purchasing a family home your ultimate dream for 2020? If the new year spells exciting changes in your life, in particular the arrival of another child, chances are you're looking to move up to a larger place – somewhere that you and your family will call home for years to come.
With choosing a long-term home to settle down in comes additional responsibility. Choose well, and you could end up staying for decades; choose the wrong property, however, and you could end up doing a potentially stressful move a couple years down the line.
So, what should your main considerations be when choosing a family home? Use these useful tips* to kick-start your search – and visit our mortgage pages to ensure that your new place comes with a good mortgage deal.
1. Make a list of priorities
What's the single most important thing about your potential new home? Is it the location? Proximity to a good school? Or, perhaps, a garden for the family to enjoy? It's good to have a dream home in mind, but it's also very important to work out what one thing you won't compromise on – because it's more than likely that you'll need to be flexible on most other points.
2. Work out your budget
This is crucial for speeding up the search for a property, and will save you the heartache of looking at properties you can't afford. Remember that you’ll need to set aside additional money on top of your deposit to cover the costs of solicitors, mortgage booking fees, arrangement fees, valuation fees and surveyor fees, as well as lender/broker fees if you choose to use them. Once you've worked out those additional costs, the property prices you'll be looking at will be more realistic.
3. Work out your ideal location
Location is probably the single most important factor when choosing a family home, especially if you have children. You'll need to take school catchment areas into account, and the more schools in the area the better, as you might not get your first choice.
On the other hand, it's also very important that the location of your family home will allow for a reasonably easy work commute, making school drop-offs and pick-ups manageable. If you drive and the property doesn't have a garage, find out what the parking rules are in the area, and whether you will realistically have a guaranteed space to park your car.
4. Consider the home's interior
Here again making a priorities list pays off. Do you enjoy cooking for the whole family, in which case a larger kitchen will be priority? If your children are older, then having more – and larger – bedrooms will be the priority. If you are a family who love spending time outdoors together, then it may well be that having a garden is the most important thing.
Having said all that, it's also useful to be able to see a house's potential: if it doesn't quite have a the kitchen you've always dreamt of, can it be extended in the future? If the garden is currently unattractive, can it be transformed, with a bit of effort? Can the interior be made open-plan to make spending time with family easier? It may even make sense to consult a professional architect for an expert opinion on the house's potential.
Read more about extending a house in our ultimate guide.
5. Consider future plans
Life is unpredictable, but we all have plans, and if yours are fairly certain – another child, for example, or a change of jobs in the near future – it makes sense to choose a property that will accommodate that future.
It's hard to underestimate the upheaval of moving as a family, and the fewer times you move (especially while the children are small), the better.
Need more advice? Find out more about buying a house in 2020.
*tips suggested by North Sands Developments (opens in new tab)