Searching for a new home can be incredibly exciting and fulfilling. This process is going to involve holding conversations with your real estate broker, searching through listings and data online, and exploring properties in person. During all of these important steps, you’re going to be making a lot of crucial choices, and looking ahead to the future.
This journey can all be a lot to tackle on your own — and adding young kids, older relatives, or peppy pets to the mix can add an entirely new layer of complexity.
What can you do to make house hunting with kids, pets, or other family members more manageable? It helps to have a concrete plan, and be strategic about how you get all of these other important parties involved.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind about getting your entire family involved in your Chicagoland home search:
Searching for a new home can be a tricky and time-intensive process, even in the best of circumstances. Adding kids to the equation can make it all seem even more complex. Keeping your child involved and engaged in the search for a new home can be a great way to get them excited about moving, and make this major transition easier down the line. But house hunting with kids is often easier said than done. Here are a few simple ideas that can help you get your younger family members involved in the home search:
- Make a list of the kid-friendly features that are most important to you. As you set out your list of wants and needs for your future home, your children will likely be top of mind. Thinking about your child’s personal wants and needs can be a great guide, helping you narrow in on the features that are most important to you, whether that means finding a location near a great school, snagging a place with a large backyard or playroom for activities, or finding a home with top-of-the-line safety features.
- Be picky with the houses that your children see. It can be exhausting for kids to see many different houses at once. It’s easy for kids to get physically tired, or to be confused or frustrated when they get emotionally attached to one particular property. Instead of showing them everything, be choosy with which potential homes you show off to your kids, and wait until you’ve narrowed down your search to start taking them to view listings.
- Give the kids fun “jobs” to do during the house hunt. One way to make visiting new houses easier for children may be to give them fun assignments, as a way to help them explore the house and stay occupied. You can have each child try to count the number of rooms in the home, for example, or even have them take notes or draw the details of the home in a notepad.
- Explore the community. Focusing on all that the local area has to offer is one way to make the transition from one home to another easier, especially on kids. While house hunting in a new location, take some time to see local sights, eat at local restaurants, swim at a nearby pool, or make time for fun in the community. Positioning a home search expedition as a fun road trip is a way to keep stress levels lower, while also helping your younger family members start to see the potential in a new town or neighborhood.
- Keep up an open dialogue. Early on in the house hunting process, you may want to ask your young ones about what features they might want in a future home. As the home search goes along, keep this conversation going. Be open with your children, and consider asking for their opinions if you feel it’s appropriate. At the same time, try to check in with your child emotionally, to see how they’re feeling about the home search. This way, you can know when to get them more involved, and when to give them a break.
- Be realistic and know your family’s limits. During the home search, try to limit the number of listings you see with your kids, to make the process more manageable for them. Sometimes, it may be easier to find a daycare, hire a sitter, or leave your children with a trusted friend or family member than to drag them to listings. Similarly, when you bring a young child to visit a home, it may help to bring snacks, coloring books, or toys to keep them entertained, so you can focus on learning more about the property.
Whether you have chickens pecking around in the yard, a cat who loves curling up by the windowsill, or a dog who can’t wait to go for a morning walk, pet owners know how important it is to find a home that works for every member of the household — especially the four-legged ones. Here are a few things for animal lovers to keep in mind before diving into their search for a new home:
- Consider the neighborhood carefully. Working closely with your real estate broker, be sure to explore the area and make sure it will be the right fit for your furry or feathered friends. First, you’ll want to make sure that you’re allowed to have all of your pets with you in any potential new home. Some condos and homeowners associations have bylaws about pets, which may ban certain animals or breeds, or restrict how large your pets are allowed to be. From there, make sure the area is going to work. Are there dog-friendly parks or greenspaces nearby? Are there grooming and veterinary services in the community?
- Make sure the home’s layout is the right match for your pets. Before exploring any listings with your broker, take some time to sketch out what features your ideal home will have, thinking with your pets in mind. How can you find a home that works for them, and for you? For instance, older cats and dogs may have trouble climbing stairs, making some homes less appealing. You may prefer flooring that is more resistant to stains or claw marks, or safety windows that can help prevent accidents. You may want a private, out-of-the-way area to store pet food and litter. And your furry friend may prefer a big backyard to run around in. It can’t hurt to discuss all of these features with your real estate agent.
- Talk to the neighbors and explore the area. Talking with potential neighbors can be a great way to get a feel for a new area, and can help answer some of your most pressing pet-related questions. Talking with residents can help you get a sense of how pet-friendly the area is, or warn you of any potential drawbacks to the neighborhood. Locals may be able to recommend dog walking paths, or suggest nearby boarders or groomers.
- Plan ahead for the move. Moving can be complicated under the best of circumstances; it can be even harder with a herd of cute animals running around! As you start to narrow your home search, begin planning ahead for the big move. Will your pet be able to handle a hefty drive or a long-distance flight? Can they stay with friends or family for a short period? How can you make sure they’ll be safe and secure, particularly with movers and well-wishers coming in and out of your new home? Your real estate broker may have experience or stories that can help you plan ahead for these tricky situations.
Parents or Older Family Members
According to a report from the New York Times, multigenerational households, or “homes where two or more adult generations live together, or those that include both grandparents and grandchildren,” are on the rise across the country. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study found that 64 million Americans now live in a multigenerational home, compared to just 32.2 million in 1950. Whether you’re looking to share costs, bring your family closer together, or make life easier for your aging loved ones, here are a few ways for multigenerational buyers to make the search for a new home easier:
- Get on the same page about wants and needs. For you, ample backyard space, close proximity to work, and an expansive media room may be high on the wishlist for your future home. For older members of the family, it could be more important to have an en suite bathroom, high ceilings, and a quiet street. As you start your home search, be sure to keep up an open dialogue so that everyone gets a chance to explore their wants and needs for their next home. Setting expectations early can make it easier to make key decisions and compromises down the line.
- Be prepared to have different house hunting styles. It’s been well-documented that millennials, gen Xers, and baby boomers all have different preferences and styles when it comes to homes — and to house hunting. Older family members may have different expectations about what goes into a home search than younger adults. For instance? They may be more reluctant to use technology to get the home search started, or prefer a different communication style with your family’s real estate broker. Take some time to talk about the best way to conduct your home search so that everyone feels satisfied along the way.
- Consider accessibility and comfort. For multigenerational households, comfort, safety, and accessibility are key considerations. For instance, do older family members have trouble navigating the stairs? If so, it may be important to look for a home that is more accommodating of their needs and abilities. Are there enough bathrooms for everyone — and are there bathrooms that you can easily convert to be more accessible, with grab bars or elevated toilets? Similarly, think about your family’s comfort. Is the space large enough for everyone, including kids and pets? Will there be any issues with privacy or noise?
- Explore the neighborhood together. If your older loved ones are reluctant to move, or need to be convinced about the appeal of a certain community, one of the best ways to move forward may be to help them explore the neighborhood. Go for a walk in the park, take a drive, or go out to eat in a local restaurant to help your family members more easily picture their lives in this new spot.
Work With a Real Estate Company That Gets You
At Baird & Warner, our mantra is “let’s make this easier” — from the day you start envisioning your next home to the day you’re handed the keys. For more than 160 years, Baird & Warner has been helping to turn an intricate, complex process into one that is smarter and more seamless at every step of the way.
Whether you’re looking for a home with enough room to grow your family, a space to settle down, or a property that doubles as a playroom for your pets, we get you. Whatever your real estate goals may be, one of Baird & Warner’s hyperlocal experts can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.