Owning your own home is an exciting proposition to most people, especially for those who are also ready to start a family. Buying your first home is the first step in putting down roots for your growing family. You’ll make and share memories as your raise children, celebrate life’s accomplishments, and enjoy all the great things having a family can offer. For this reason, it’s important to make a smart decision when you purchase your first home. A home is more than just the building itself- it’s the potential for it to grow and adapt to meet the needs of your family. It’s also the world around your home, both today and in the future.

How can you determine what makes a good first family home? Every family has unique needs, and the right home for your family may not be the same as those your parents looked for when raising you. Before you begin to look at the market, you should look at your family- discover the wants and needs you have for a property, both today and in the future, and make a list. From there, you can follow these five tips to find the right home that meets your criteria:

5 Tips for Buying Your First Home

  1. Room to grow – There are many factors that can give a home the room you and your family are going to need. There are three main factors to consider: square footage, floorplan, and land size. Square footage is the easiest to measure but rarely tells the whole story. Floorplan and house layout determines how useful the house will actually be. If you have a 500 square foot attic, that space may be more useful converted into an additional bedroom. Converting an existing space can be cost effective, but in the event you need to build an addition, that’s why it’s important to find a property that has usable land. Much like square footage, acreage can be nice on paper, but it’s important to consider the building potential of the land. Uneven terrain may require significant (and expensive) work before you’re able to build on it.
  2. Safe Environment – Both the home and community need to be safe for you and your family. Start with the home itself- is it built to modern safety standards? Is it in good physical condition? If you’re going to have young children in the home, does it have stairs where they could get hurt? Consider yard space- will your kids be able to play without the risk of wandering into traffic or encountering strangers? While a fence may address these concerns, you should also pay attention to the community. Nearby neighbors can be helpful in keeping an eye on your property while you’re away…but you’ll want to check crime statistics for the area to know if perhaps those neighbors are keeping an eye out for the wrong reasons. A more private, secluded home may seem like a smarter choice, but can leave your family isolated in the event of inclement weather. Do your research and consider the tradeoffs of each property you visit. Talk with members of the community and check online for regular complaints of crime.
  3. Schools– If you have children, or plan to have them in the future, you’ll want to make sure that schools in the area meet your standards.
  4. Family lifestyle– What do you do for fun with the family? From gyms and supermarkets to parks and your favorite coffee shop, you’ll want to find a home that offers a good compromise of proximity to regular destinations. Being able to walk to a gym may increase the value of a home to you, while having to take the freeway for a long work commute may make a home worthless in your eyes.
  5. Plan for the Future– Families change over time, with new members and others growing up and moving away. With that, so do our life circumstances. While you can’t predict taking a new job five years down the road, you can look at your current plans and try to determine if this first home is your forever home- or if it’s going to be a short-term solution for the next 3-5 years.

When you buy a home, you’re making a commitment that you and your family are going to have to live with. Finding a home that meets your wants and needs may seem difficult at first, but focusing on these five aspects can help you make a solid investment, and one you’ll be happy to call home today and in the future!