Nation & World

Homebuyers with kids face greater struggles

Parents tend to have a longer wish list, among other stressors, Zillow survey finds

Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT

When buying a new house, parents with at-home children under 18 are far more likely to bust their budget and make smaller down payments, a Zillow survey finds. They are also more likely to end up with crushing commutes and smaller homes than they wanted.
Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT When buying a new house, parents with at-home children under 18 are far more likely to bust their budget and make smaller down payments, a Zillow survey finds. They are also more likely to end up with crushing commutes and smaller homes than they wanted.

School’s out for summer. That means many children are scrambling to have as much fun as possible and may parents are hustling to move into a new home before school is back in session.

Buying a home is tricky for anyone, especially if it’s your first one, but parents have a far more stressful time than those without kids, according to Zillow Research.

Parents with children under 18 are far more likely to bust their budget and make smaller down payments. They are also more likely to end up with crushing commutes and smaller homes than they wanted.

“Having kids is a major destabilizer in life ...,” their needs are constantly changing and seemingly impossible to anticipate,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s director of economic research.

“Combine all that uncertainty with a massive financial decision that inevitably requires tough trade offs among a limited set of options and has to be wrapped up in time to move before school starts and you’ve got one of the biggest challenges around.”

For starters, parents tend to have a longer wish list. Items that may be negotiable for people without children seem mandatory for parents.

Think about things like safety, enrichment and community.

They also place a higher importance on having the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, private outdoor space and community amenities.

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Location is always key but it’s a deal breaker for parents, who need easy access to day care, schools and work.

An endless commute means less time with the children, especially if they go to bed early. Making dinner and doing homework can take up all your quality time.

Zillow also found that parents are more likely to have an offer or mortgage financing package fall through and they attend more open houses.

Despite the extra effort, two-thirds of these buyers with children say they ultimately made sacrifices to stay within their budget. About a third of them sacrificed a shorter commute (34.1%), a larger home (31.2%) or their desired finishes (32.7%), according to a nationwide survey of recent homebuyers.

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