What better place to raise a family than Smith Mountain Lake? You have a growing business community with just about everything you need a short distance away. But you still have that country/small-town feel of friendly folks and good neighbors. The crime rates are very low and the list of fun things to do or be a part of is endless.
One of the most common reasons to buy a home is to accommodate a growing family. Perhaps you want to live in a neighborhood with better schools and more services your family uses, or maybe you need a bigger house as the two of you turn into three and then four.
In a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders, some 64 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “I wish my home were larger.” The other two top concerns are price and finding the right neighborhood.
If you have a young family and are ready to make the jump from your entry-level home, or if you’ve been renting and are embarking on the purchase of your first house, you’ll want to consider the following points during your house-hunting ventures:
- Neighborhood. As you examine a specific neighborhood, ask yourself if this is a neighborhood in which you’d feel comfortable. Although your kids are toddlers now, in just a few short years they’ll be outside riding their bikes and playing with the neighborhood children. Buying in a good neighborhood also helps ensure your property values.
- Schools. Again, if you have a baby or toddler now, kindergarten will be here before you know it. Visit the neighborhood schools, and talk to the principal, teachers, and other parents in the neighborhood. Ask to see standardized test scores. Your real estate agent can usually provide you with additional information about schools in the area.
- Crime. While a neighborhood may look safe, it could be riddled with incidents of burglary or vandalism. Check with the local law enforcement agency to see if the neighborhood you are eyeing has any specific chronic crime problems.
- Bedroom space. If you’re planning on more children, you’ll want to consider how many bedrooms you’ll need. Will the children share rooms or have their own?
- Play area. If you have young children, you’ll want to factor in where the kids will play. Sometimes storing the bulk of the toys in the child’s room works, but in some instances, like if the child’s room is upstairs, it’s difficult to supervise. In that case, you’ll want to consider whether the house is configured to provide the space they need to play and move about.
- Homework and study areas. As your children reach school age and need more time and space for homework, you’ll need to consider whether there’s space in their bedroom, in the kitchen area, or another nook or niche, prevalent in many newer homes.
- Computer use. Perhaps you already have a home office, complete with a computer set-up. The time may – or more likely, will – come when your child needs a computer for homework and research. This may require a second computer and the required space for a second system. This will especially be true if one of the parents works at home and frequently uses the computer.
- Family room. Your youngest is only 7, but by the time your three sons reach their adolescent and teen years, will the family room be as comfortable as it is now? Don’t forget that friends will be stopping by frequently. A house with a finished basement or game room is ideal for older kids.
- Bathrooms. Your kids may not spend much time in the bathroom now, but that will change in the years ahead. Make sure you consider how the number of bathrooms, and the extent of vanity areas will work for your family. A bathroom with two sinks and a long countertop is ideal for two siblings to get ready for school in the morning.
- Pool. Does the house you’re eyeing have a pool? It will be great for your family. But be sure you put a fence around the perimeter. While some of these factors may be out of your control because of budget constraints and housing availability, you’ll want to come up with a priority list and determine which factors and characteristics are most important to your growing family.
Points Written by Michele Dawson at Kirk Greer’s Real Estate Update