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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

Buying a new home with kids.

Choosing a home with kids in mind

When moving your family into a new home, there are many factors to consider. For those with babies, keep in mind that the average length of home ownership is 13 years according to the National Association of Home Builders. That means you'll want to think about schools and neighborhood factors that may impact older children and teenagers. 

Floor Plan 
If you have young children, pay extra attention to the floor plan, suggested Parents Magazine. Having a master bedroom on a different floor as the rest of the bedrooms can make nighttime difficult. Parents with infants will need to climb stairs for midnight feedings and might not hear toddlers who still wake up at night. More independent kids might attempt to scale the stairs in the dark leading to trips and falls in the middle of the night. 

An open floor plan with an indoor play area is helpful for cold weather climates. Since evenings and play-dates may be spent indoors, make sure to have an area that's large enough for toys and movement. By having an open layout from the kitchen to living area, parents can cook and clean while little ones play within sight. 

Another consideration is stairs from the garage or entryway which can be common in townhomes and buildings in flood zones. Climbing up one or more flights with a load of groceries can be overwhelming with little ones running around. If you have an infant, remember it might be years until you can trust them to go up the stairs solo while you carry items from the car. 

For many families, a yard to play in is extremely important. Make sure to consider the right outdoor space for your needs. If you have an extremely active life and spend little time at home, a smaller yard will be more manageable and require less work.

However, if you are a stay-at-home parent or have in-home childcare, a yard might be more important. Consider looking for a home with a a play structure already installed or adequate space to build one. Fenced in areas provide peace of mind since physical barriers prevent young children and pets from wandering off. 

Before purchasing a home with a pool, consider safety features like fences and gates to prevent unattended children from falling in. 

Even if you don't have children yet, a great school district can boost the value of a property, according to HGTV. Most real estate apps list nearby schools and school ratings. Quickly search online for elementary, middle and high schools to see how they compare to nearby areas. Even if your kids are still in diapers, make sure to choose an area with access to quality high schools since they'll grow up before you know it. 

A realtor or neighbor should be able to give you information about zoning changes or new schools that may impact your decision. 

Look for an area with lots of parks and a high level of safety. Older kids will appreciate an outdoor play space, and a low-crime area will allow them to walk alone once they're big enough. Also consider other neighborhood kids and how likely it is to find friends for your little ones. 

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