Househunting with the whole family

Stacks’ clients are often househunting with the whole family in tow.

It bears repeating that, even if you are househunting with the whole family in mind, selecting a school as the sole basis of your house search can be a dangerous strategy. If your heart is set on one school, you may find that your child doesn’t get in or that the school’s position in the league tables changes. Often, the wisest decision is to select an area that has a raft of good schools, and provides plenty of choice, both state and private, for all different ages. This does then provide you with flexibility, allowing for over- or under-achieving children, changes in the performance of schools, not to mention potential changes in the family fortunes.  See Home or School for more on this debate.

Involving your children in the selection of schools is a minefield, and better heads than ours have plenty of advice on the pros and cons of that particular campaign, but Stacks, from their experience of many years of helping families find their perfect home, can help you navigate the children through the search for the perfect home, whilst not been blown off course yourselves .

  • Very small children (under 5’s) are unlikely to prove awkward as far as the decision making process is concerned. If you’re concerned about how a house move will affect your pre-school children, the good news is that they tend to take a new home completely in their stride, much to the surprise of parents who may have been anticipating tears and upset.
  • Older children may have some very strong ideas about the whats and wheres of a new family home. But remember that they won’t be taking into consideration all the elements that go into an informed decision, so try not to be overly influenced. It’s clearly a mistake to be deflected by children’s overwhelming desire for a swimming pool, or to be located close to a best friend. Their priorities are likely to change fairly rapidly, but your new home needs to meet the whole family’s needs for many years to come – including when they’ve upped and left.
  • Teenagers (and this will come as no surprise) can be the most difficult offspring to accommodate. They may be happy in their current home and have little wish to leave their friends, schools, and environment. A house move away from London can be particularly difficult for this age group, and you may find your decisions are met with a great deal of opposition.

In the first instance, be inclusive in your discussions, explain the reasons for your move, and talk about what and where it is that you are looking. Ask for their input, but explain that whilst you’ll try and accommodate their (reasonable) wishes, there are many other criteria, and some degree of compromise is generally called for when it comes to buying property. Once you’ve established those parameters, conduct the viewing and choosing process without too much more input.

Then leave the kids at home! Taking children on an initial viewing can be a mistake – the chances are they will be fighting over which bedroom they want before you’ve even gotten into the garden. At best, they will distract you from making a sensible assessment of the property; and at worst, they will take either a strong like or dislike to the property that will be based on virtually irrelevant criteria.

If they are too small to cause emotional difficulties for you, it is still better if you can leave them with a friend or relative, the viewing will be much more useful as you do need to be able to concentrate fully on a viewing, not stopping little fingers from touching the delicates. We can be invaluable in this regard, and can arrange reliable childcare, or even bring an extra hand to play games in the car whilst you view if that proves easier.

Once you have found your ideal property, you will need to do a quick 180, and go into sales mode. Figure out what the property has that they will love – whether it’s a big bedroom, a paddock for a pony, a loft that you’ll convert into a playroom/cinema room, or a garden perfect for football. Whatever it is, concentrate on the benefits and get them excited.

For teenagers, location is likely to be even more important than the house itself, so gather as much positive information as you can, enlisting the help of local teenagers if you’re struggling. Depending on their age, sex and interests, you can concentrate on local sporting facilities, live music, cinema, pubs and clubs, and transport facilities.

You can also get children of all ages excited about a move if you offer them incentives such as the chance to choose paint colour for their rooms, or new furniture/furnishings. You really need to hit the buy-in spots, so do plenty of homework, and get them onside before you take them to see what will be their new home.

Stacks are experts at assimilating the input of all members of the family into the search brief. We will ensure that everybody is included, and will research the context of the houses we propose, as well as the physical attributes of the property, to ensure that it meets the brief in terms of community and amenities, not just the number of rooms or décor.

We will provide information on the availability of schools, pre-schools, clubs and activities, and help you ‘sell’ your choice to the kids as well.

For more on the glories of living in your chosen area, see our Local Office pages.

For more on how a Buying Agent can help you find your next family home, click here.

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