Buying a home
A guide to finding the right family home
7 July 2023
If you’re house hunting for a new family home, knowing where to start your search and what to look for can be the hardest part. After all, this might be where lots of family memories happen. So, looking for a home that fits your family’s lifestyle and will suit current and future needs is essential.
Know your must-haves and nice-to-haves
It’s a good idea to list everything you’d love to have in your new home. Then divide your list into two categories: must-have and nice to have.
Having a pool for the kids to cool off in summer would be great, but how much use will it get if you live in Victoria? Only one bathroom when the kids are in nappies is fine, but will that still work when the kids are older?
Remember, your family’s needs are unique, and what’s non-negotiable to you may not be for others. You can kick-start your list by exploring these features:
Large outdoor spaces
Is a big backyard for the kids and pets to play a must-have? Or could you settle for a smaller area that still suits your outdoor needs?
Secure car parking
Getting bub safely in and out of the car can require a bit of space. Think about what kind of parking will accommodate your family’s requirements.
Families can accumulate a lot of stuff. Think Christmas decorations, toys, furniture, books and extra clothes. If the homes you’re looking at don’t have ample storage space, look for possibilities of installing extra storage.
Would you like to entertain guests, even if you have young children at home? Do you need to always keep a watchful eye on your little one? Will you or your partner be working from home? Questions like this can determine the type of space you need - two living areas or open-plan space, for example.
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s usually the room with the most traffic, so it needs to cope with a growing family. Are you a family of cooks? The size and capability of your kitchen should match this.
Bathrooms are often under looked, but if you have a small bathroom and children to bathe, the struggle is real. If an ample bathroom is one of your must-haves, you’ll need to factor that into your purchase or renovation plan.
Room to expand
Maybe the property you have your eye on still isn’t quite right, but a good touch-up could transform it into your ideal family paradise. If renovations are a no-go for your prospective property, keep in mind the property you buy will be the one you’re stuck with.
For young children, you need to consider the stairs for safety. For the elderly, it could be a significant mobility issue. Stairs might not be a complete deal breaker, but it’s something to think about.
Spend time getting to know the area
The right home is preferably in a location that supports your family’s lifestyle. You can try a few tests that might help you determine if you’re buying in a suitable area.
The affordability test
The affordability test is fundamental and may determine the areas you can buy and your proximity to local amenities. But it’s not the only way to assess if you’re putting your savings towards the right house.
Before you get your heart set on an area, do your research. Learn as much as possible about the suburb, what it has to offer and what properties are selling for locally. Knowing what to expect can also help you to stay in control of the buying and negotiating processes.
The location test
If you’re moving to an unfamiliar area, you’ll need to adjust your routine. Trying out a location can help you work out any drawbacks or adjustments you’ll have to make.
– Road test your commute. Your new location may require you or other family members to change your regular commute. Trying it out before you make a move will help ensure you’re happy with your decision.
– Know your proximity to the people and things you love. Ideally, your perfect home will be in an area close to family, friends, and favourite amenities.
The ‘become a local for a day’ test
Take the family to visit the area. Go for a walk, grab a coffee, and try chatting with locals to learn more about the suburb’s pros and cons.
– Check out the hot spots. Walk into shops, cafes, restaurants and the local shopping centre. This is an excellent way to know if the area has the vibe you’re looking for.
– Explore local amenities. Check out the local parks, pools and gyms so you know where to go when you need to get your physical activity fix. Visit any nearby markets and cultural centres to learn about community activities.
– Return at different times. It’s worth checking out the area at different times and days of the week to get a sense of the changing local scene.
The future test
You’ve found the perfect home in the ideal location. Hopefully, you’ll want to stay there for years to come. Before you plant down permanent roots, try to ensure the property is future proof.
– Close to good schools. If you have kids now or are planning to have them down the track, proximity to quality schools and kindergartens may play into your location’s appeal.
– Potential area growth. Look out for local real estate market trends. Identifying and buying in areas experiencing higher price growth could help build your wealth if you decide to sell later.
Involve the whole family
It’s a home for all the family, so everyone should have a say. You may think it can get chaotic to involve the children depending on their age. But it’s important to listen to how they feel about moving to a new house and get their opinions about any potential new homes along the way. After all, they could be moving from the only house they have known, which can be scary.
– Browse home listings together. Involving your kids in house hunting early in the process will ensure they feel included in the decision right from the start.
– Be strategic. Avoid taking your young ones to every inspection. It’s a good idea to take them to visit the top three potential new homes.
– Make it fun! House hunting can be stressful, but it can also be a lot of fun. You can encourage your children to draw what they think the house will look like, from the backyard to their potential new room. This can help them imagine for themselves what life may be like living there.
– Assign roles. If possible, you can distribute jobs to each child to help them feel completely included and create a calm atmosphere. You can think of small tasks, such as counting the number of rooms in the house. If the kids are older, you can give them more specific roles, like checking for creaky doors or uncovering hidden cracks or holes.
Final questions to help you find the perfect home
Ask yourself these final questions to help you nail down your search and find the right home for your family.
- What’s required for upkeep?
- What maintenance will the garden and lawn require?
- Is the house secure? Can we add security lighting outside?Feeling ready to buy your new family home?
Get lending assistance
Talk to a Suncorp home loan expert about your options. For any home loan questions and assistance with your application, the team at Suncorp Bank is here to help.
Home Loans are provided by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 AFSL No. 229882 Australian Credit Licence 229882 (“Suncorp Bank”) to approved applicants only. Please read the relevant Product Information Document, Lending Fees and Charges and Home Package Plus Terms and Conditions before making a decision regarding any Suncorp Bank products. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply and are available on request or on our Product Information Documents and Forms page.
Home Loans are provided by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 AFSL No. 229882 Australian Credit Licence 229882 (“Suncorp Bank”) to approved applicants only. Please read the relevant Product Information Document, Lending Fees and Charges and Home Package Plus Terms and Conditions before making a decision regarding any Suncorp Bank products. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply and are available on request or on our Product Information Documents and Forms page. The information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.