Where to Start
Buying a home is a life-altering decision—even more so when it's the place you plan to raise your children. Many parents find their priorities change tremendously when kids come along; couples who once refused to live without a whirlpool tub or other luxury will find that a playroom and substantial back yard are suddenly much more essential. For those of you in search of a home, the first step in this exciting process is to determine your family's long-term needs.
Though some buyers enter the process with their eyes shut, others swear by "the lists": one for needs, and one for wants. The needs list should include features you feel are necessary for comfortable living: the number of bedrooms and baths, the size of the garage, total square footage, and more. The wish list, though not as important, will probably be longer, full of features you would like to have. This list, which can include anything from a gas or wood fireplace to a swimming pool, can be used down the road to help you evaluate and prioritize the final houses in your search.
Ron Yaudes, the relocation director for Century 21 Ripley Realty in Austin, Texas, hears many requests for several features in particular: "People are looking for upgraded kitchens and walk-in closets with plenty of space," he says.
Scarlett Gordon, a realtor with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, has seen a recent growing interest in floor plans. "Many relocating families are looking for a kitchen open to the family room because moms like to know what's going on," she says.