House Hunting Tips for Busy Parents

November 16, 2009

After several nights of weighing the pros and cons of buying a house one thing we realized is that we simply didn’t have enough information to make a good decision. We haven’t been in the real estate market for years now so we don’t really know what our house will sell for or what we should expect to pay for the kind of home we’re looking for.

We’ve started doing some research and talking with our friends in the industry, realtors and appraisers, about the market and about our house. We also decided to start looking at a few homes to get a feel for various neighborhoods and price ranges.

Last time we were house hunting we had no house of our own to sell and no kids so it was a different experience. We spent yesterday afternoon trying to see a few houses and learned a thing or to about house hunting as parents.

Screen Houses Thoroughly Online

We don’t have a lot of free time so we have to be pickier about the houses we look at. In the past, if we saw a house online that had a few things we weren’t crazy about we might check it out anyway just to see if we liked it. We had time to visit them so there was nothing to lose if we checked out a few houses that didn’t meet our criteira.

Now we can only see so many in a day so we’re only going to look at a house if it meets all of our major criteria.

Leave the Family Behind

After dragging our kids out of their beds from their naps and lugging them around all afternoon we quickly realized that the initial stages of house hunting were not going to be a family affair.

We could move much faster if there was only one of us driving to see homes. Not only could we cover more ground in a shorter amount of time, the kids didn’t want to be cooped up in their car seats driving around all day.

From now on, one of us will check out a house that we’re interested in. If we find any in our “scouting” that look good, then we corral the kids and bore them to death with a house visit.

Have a Quick Trigger

If you’re in the middle of checking out a house and you find something that’s a deal breaker, don’t be afraid to bail immediately. Time is limited and there are more potential homes out there, waiting for you to find them.

We’re generally pretty polite so typically we would feel bad cutting a realtor’s tour short and saying adios. Plus in the past we might have decided to keep looking around just to see if the rest of the place was awesome and might make up for the major shortcoming.

However, now our time for visiting homes is precious so if we’re in one and see something that is a red flag, we’re out the door.

Make Backup Plans

At the first house we were standing in the rain, car seats in hand, on the front door step of a home that we were scheduled to visit. The glass storm door was locked and no one was coming to answer it. The real estate agent was very apologetic but that didn’t do us much good.

We were all dressed up with no place to go. We had interrupted the kids naps, driven out to this area, and now knew nothing else to look at. Luckily we called some friends in the area and they pointed us to some homes for sale that we could checkout.

From now on we will have a few backups in place around the area of the houses we’re scheduled to see. In case you haven’t noticed a trend, our lessons learned had to do with seeing more of the right houses more quickly. Having a few alternate houses in mind helps to keep from wasting your time when a house appointment falls through.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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5 Responses to House Hunting Tips for Busy Parents

  • Diana

    “look at a house if it meets all of our major criteria” , this seems to be key, there are very important factors (safe neighborhood, school district, commute to work) to consider, however, if you look and look and look you can pretty much overdo the whole house hunting deal which leads to confusion on the buyers part. (can’t remember which house was which) . We just recently bought a house and our main criteria were met and even beyond our expectations, but other things we just had to let go. Anyways, it all worked out quite well, we are super happy, we bought a energy saving house, WELL below our price range in a very good area with really good schools. (not THE best in the county, but the second best) Downside, it is a bit smaller than we were hoping to buy, and I was hoping for a somewhat worked on yard. Well, we weighed our pros and cons and with all the pros, we could easily let go a few SF and the landscaped yard.


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