Make House Hunting with Kids Fun (or Less Terrible)

It's no secret that a bigger family means you need a bigger house. And it isn’t just the extra bedrooms and bathrooms. You may want more home office space, or a mud room for all the kids’ stuff. (What is it about kids and stuff? And how did our parents manage it all?)

If you’re house hunting while expecting, with or without bigger kids in tow, a little advance planning can make things more fun for everyone, including you, the kids, your real estate agent, and the people whose homes you’ll be exploring.

The first thing you should do is ask if your real estate agent has any experience with kids. And beware the agent who claims to love them, and may even bring a few spare ones along during your house hunt. Let your agent know if you’ll be bringing children along, and make sure they’ll arrive without their own.

Horror Story: One pregnant house hunter, who already had a toddler, was house hunting on her own, because she and her medical resident husband were moving to a new town, and he couldn’t get away from his job at the hospital. She thought her agent was kid friendly, and she was. To her own children, who she brought with her to every showing. In the middle of one long day of house hunting, the agent stopped for lunch at a fast food restaurant. And made her pregnant client watch all of the kids while she went to order...and didn’t even get meals for the client and her toddler.

Make it Enjoyable

If you are looking out of town, your agent may be able to recommend sitters, if that’s something you could use.

You’ll also want to speak up about any needs your kids may have. If it would be best for the agent to play with them outside while you and your partner look around inside the potential house of your dreams, speak up.

You can also bring snacks for the kids, and make sure you stop for lunch if your day includes multiple house showings.

And art projects! As long as they aren’t too messy, that is. Sticker books are good, and colored pencils are less messy than crayons or markers.

And how about an iPad? You may limit screen time at home, but this is a good time to break the rules.

We can suggest activities all day long, but you know your child best. Go with your gut, and meet your child’s needs. If the kid is happy, everyone’s happy.

A few more tips...

  • Do know when to say when. Today might just not be your day.
  • Don’t let your kid trash people’s homes. (There will be plenty of time to baby proof once you move in, but not every seller will have your toddler in mind!)
  • Do make sure you aren’t so distracted that you choose a home too quickly. It may help to make a written list ahead of time, during a calm moment.
  • Don’t ask your child for too many opinions. In the end, this is your decision.
  • Do expect courtesy from your agent. Showing houses with a child along for the ride is part of the job.

Have you ever house hunted with kids? Share your best tips!