Photo: James Bombales
Buying a home is difficult enough as is — but when you add kids to the equation, finding the ‘right’ home becomes an even more daunting task. A recent study by the real estate site Zillow found that nearly half of homebuyers (45.9 percent) who moved in the past year are parents to children who live at home and are under the age of 18. The majority of buyers (56.6 percent) who had a new baby or adopted a child within that time frame reported that it influenced their decision to move.
While childless buyers may be on the lookout for the next “it” neighborhood (so what if it’s a little grungy?), parents with school age children are honing in on established neighborhoods with services already in place. Here are 6 key differences between these two homebuyer demographics.
1. Parents make personal and financial sacrifices to keep their families afloat
When it came to setting a budget for their new home, buyers with children were more likely to spend more than what they could comfortably afford (25.7 percent) when compared to their childless peers (21.2 percent). Most buyers with children stuck to their budget (74.3 percent) by cutting back in other ways — in fact, two-thirds of them (66.5 percent) made compromises to avoid going into the red.
Among those surveyed, the most common financial compromises were increasing commute times (34.1 percent), purchasing a home without the desired finishes (32.7 percent) and purchasing a smaller home than planned (31.2 percent). It seems parents are willing to sit in traffic for 30 more minutes each day so their children can attend school in a reputable district. That’s what podcasts are for, right?
2. They find it difficult to squirrel away a 20 percent down payment
Millennials are often told they should cut back on coffee or avocado toast if they want to get serious about saving, but when you’ve got children, you can’t just decide to forego diapers or baby formula to save some extra cash. Perhaps due to the high cost of child rearing, the majority of parents (54.7 percent) had down payments of less than 20 percent, while only 49.2 percent of buyers without children put down less than the standard amount.
3. Parents aren’t making concessions when it comes to their must-have lists
It seems today’s parents can’t shake the dream of owning a single-family home — a whopping 83.7 percent hoped to buy a detached home. Their home buying checklists were also lengthier and less flexible than non-parent home shoppers. Parents’ top priorities included staying on-budget (85 percent), meeting their preferred number of bedrooms (82 percent), having air conditioning (78 percent) and private outdoor space (75 percent), and possessing their preferred number of bathrooms (74 percent).
4. They care about the neighborhood as it is now, not how it will evolve in the future
Although realtors in the US can’t voice their opinions on the best school districts or the safest suburbs (those who do risk violating the Fair Housing Act), parents are rolling up their sleeves and doing the research on their own. When asked about location, parents prioritized the safety of the neighborhood (84.7 percent), the commute to work or school (66.4 percent), the school district (66.0 percent), the draw of the neighborhood itself (63.3 percent) and its walkability (62.8 percent).
5. It takes them longer to find the perfect home
Buyers with children spend more weekends scouring open houses, and only 52 percent of them successfully purchased the first home they put an offer on. That’s compared to 62.7 percent of buyers sans children. Parents aren’t keen to partake in bidding wars when they’ve got daycare tuition to think about.
6. Ultimately, they’re happier with their decisions
There is light at the end of the tunnel for moms and dads. An impressive 94.6 percent of parents who recently moved into a home say they love their new digs. Comparatively, 91.8 percent of buyers without kids reported feeling the same. While there’s a fine line between a must-have and nice-to-have home feature, it pays to be picky when your children’s futures are at stake.