You've snagged the best realtor in the area. You've made a list of everything you're looking for in your dream home. You've scoured every realty site for countless hours and mapped out the perfect route for a weekend jam packed full of showings. You are ready to jump head first into the daunting task of house hunting. There's just one little problem: you couldn't find a babysitter. While the thought of hours upon hours of viewing homes with your little ones in tow makes you want to throw in the towel before you even begin, fear not. While it's not the ideal situation, with careful thought and planning, you can successfully house hunt with your kids. If you follow these helpful tips, finding your dream home can be a memorable and enjoyable family task.
Be sure to pack everything your little ones will need throughout the day, from extra clothing to toys to plenty of snacks. You might have planned your route, but you don't know what you will encounter along the way. You might get held up at one particular house, or encounter traffic or need to make multiple rest stops along the way. This would be a great time to pack a few new toys and activities for your kids, so that they don't get bored with their old ones too quickly into the trip.
Bring A Friend
If you can't find a babysitter, the next best thing is to try to find a friend or family member who will tag along with you. If you have someone there with you, you can focus on the task at hand and really take the time to talk to the realtor about each house, while your friend supervises your children. Having an extra hand might be especially useful if your little ones fall asleep at some point during the drive between houses. You can leave them sleeping in the car under supervision, instead of having to wake them up and drag them into the house you are viewing. And if they get particularly antsy at any point during the day, your friend can watch them as they run around in the yard of the house you are viewing instead of having to chase them throughout the house.
While many realtors like to drive their clients from one property to the next so that they can discuss the houses while in the car, if you are bringing your kids, it's probably best to drive yourself and follow your realtor. If you are in your own car, you won't have to transfer car seats and booster seats, and your kids will feel comfortable in their own environment. You can play their favorite music, and pack up your car with all of their necessities.
Respect The Homeowners
Remember that not all properties will be set up in a kid friendly manner. You might be viewing the property of a couple with no children and lots of expensive antiques. While they are trying to sell their home, it is still their home. Keep a close eye on your children at all times so that they don't get into the homeowner's private things. Also, keep in mind that if the homeowner has a no shoe policy in their house, the same rule applies for children as well. And be sure to ask if there are any pets in the house before entering, so that you can watch your little ones around them.
Make It Fun
If your kids are older, you can include them in the task of house hunting. Give them a pen and paper with a list of things you are looking for in a house, and let them check off the things that they find in each property you view. You can also have them write down what they like about each house, and discuss their findings with them in the car on the way to the next house. Not only will they be distracted with a task in each house, but they will really feel like they are playing an important hand in finding the perfect family home.
Bring Your Camera
Let's face it, no matter how prepared you are, there will be many distractions while house hunting with your kids. Bring your camera and take lots of pictures inside each house you view. Be sure to take a picture of the address on the mailbox or the house's information sheet provided by your realtor in between each house so you can keep them organized when viewing the pictures later. When you get home that night, go through the photos as a family, and add points to your check-list that you might have missed while initially viewing the homes.
While you and your realtor might have come up with the perfect itinerary for the entire day, you have to be realistic. Things happen - especially with kids. Schedule yourself plenty of time in between houses. You never know when you might have to make an unexpected pit stop for food or a diaper blow out. And prepare for the chance that you might have to call it quits early for the day. You know your kids' schedules better than anyone, but sometimes, they just reach their breaking point. If that happens, don't try to force them to continue. You won't be productive with tired, cranky kids. So, be sure to plan for more than one day of house hunting from the start.