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House-hunting with Young Children: How to Handle It Like a Pro

You’re a dad or mom with a few young children, and you’re ready to purchase a home. Should you include the children as part of the process or make plans with someone who can be readily available to keep the kids while you go house-hunting? If you decide to take them along, how can you make that process relatively seamless?

The answer to the first question is a resounding, “Yes!” Read this to see why I'm so confident that taking your children with you is a good idea. Read on to learn how to handle house-hunting with young children like a pro.

Prepare your children.

Explain the basics of showings—meeting someone who will guide you through the home, seeing if that house would “fit” your family, and—probably—going through the process more than once. Help your children understand that you all may need to quickly get into the car and go. (No, you don’t have to explain the ins and outs of listings and housing markets to a 5-year-old.) However, it helps if you alert everyone who is old enough to understand the situation.

Be positive. Present this as a family time when everyone gets to help find "our new house." An upbeat pitch from you will make the process easier and more enjoyable.

Have a supply bag ready.

Perhaps you have a “go-bag” already packed for times when you need to leave quickly and want to make sure everyone has supplies and/or things to keep each one entertained. If not, getting one ready will reduce stress.

Beyond the necessities for infants, consider including books, electronics or small toys for the older children. Be wary of including snacks, though. It's hard not to leave a trace of crumbs, finger smudges or wrappers in a home. Any snacks you bring should be eaten in your vehicle.

Set boundaries before you enter the home.

How much leeway are you allowing your children while you tour the home? Do they all need to stay right beside you? Are the older ones allowed to wander a bit, as long as they stay within your eyesight? Are you keeping the youngest with you and stationing the older ones—with some electronics or books--in a certain room until you’ve toured the home. Or, are the children allowed to inspect the home on their own? We’ve seen parents use all of these approaches successfully. What’s one key to success? Parents set boundaries before they arrive at the home.

Make sure your children respect the wishes of the seller.

If the note on the door—or the table in the foyer—asks you to remove your shoes, do so—and make sure your children remove theirs, too. If the showing instructions relayed to the agent request that no one lifts the cover on the birdcage or talks to the dog in the crate that’s sitting in the living room, then make sure your children follow those instructions.

Sometimes, sellers have unusual requests. Even if the requests seem trite, abide by them—and expect your children to do the same.

Balance being thorough with being efficient.

You will need time to consider things carefully. You want to watch for possible red flags that would indicate that this home may not be the best fit for you and your family.

However, your young children are apt to grow tired of the house search fairly quickly—especially around meal times and nap times. In our experience as Realtors®, my husband and I see a strong positive correlation between the length of a showing and the difficulties that parents with young children face.

Be wise. Look thoroughly, but save the, “How could we remodel this?” or “Will all of our living room furniture fit in this living room?” conversations until after the kids are settled back into the car.

Summing it all up

As you know, nothing ever goes precisely according to plan, especially when young children are part of the mix. But, if you follow these tips, you’ll have a much better chance of house-hunting like a pro--even if you're a first-time home buyer--and even with your young children in tow.

If you need a reliable and experienced Realtor®--who's also kid-friendly--to guide you through the process of buying or selling a home, please contact us at 864-420-7771 or at

And remember, “We do the HOMEwork for you.”

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