Homebuyers with kids face greater struggles, Zillow survey says
School’s out for summer for the most part. That means many kids are scrambling to have as much fun as possible and many parents are hustling to move into a new home before school is back in session.
Buying a home is tricky for anybody, 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 kids under 18 are far more likely to bust their budget and make smaller down payments. Sadly, 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 long wish list. Things that may be negotiable for people without kids seem mandatory for parents. Think about things like safety, enrichment and community. They also place higher importance on having the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, private outdoor space and community amenities.
Location is always key but it’s a deal breaker for parents, who need easy access to daycare, schools and work. An endless commute means less time with the kids, 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.
For the record, renters with children also have it rough. They fill out 1.9 times as many applications as renters without kids and it takes them a month longer to find their home. Many renters with children also are financially vulnerable, with more than half (54.1%) saying in a survey that they couldn’t afford a $1,000 unexpected expense.
The good news is that 94.6% of parents who recently bought a home say they love it, which is actually slightly higher than those without kids. A softening home market might help too.
“As markets cool, parents will have more time to breathe and reflect on what tradeoffs they’re willing to make,” says Olsen. “With interest rates back down, they’re more able to lock in an affordable monthly payment that will last through college. The trick is finding the home that still fills the family’s needs as toddlers turn into kids, kids into teenagers, and teenagers into the young adults in your basement.”