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All in the family

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By Marnie Bennett

Getting your children involved in the purchase of a new home is a wonderful idea. Understandably, many children and teens have anxieties about moving to a different home in a new neighbourhood.

Giving them a say in the process can help them feel more positive about this major life change.

Having said that, it’s crucial to approach their involvement strategically. Obviously, your child’s priorities will not be the same as yours; it might be a little odd if they were! Your son may favour a neighbourhood because his best friend lives there or there’s a basketball net above the garage.

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If you choose to include them in the process, a word to the wise — prepare yourself. If you decide not to buy the home of your children’s dreams, it will pull at your heartstrings. You may also leave wishing you’d never asked for their input in the first place. But stay strong; children are resilient.

With this in mind, try to give your children realistic expectations. To an older child, you might say something like: “We care a lot about your opinions, but we also have to consider things like cost and practicality.” Younger children are often easier to please, and can be engaged by talking about where a swing set or treehouse might go. Children of any age usually enjoy talking about aspects over which they’re given some control, such as the colours they would like to paint their bedrooms.

Family meetings are a great way to open channels of communication to ensure everyone has a chance to voice their opinions and ask questions. With a resale home, discuss plans for renovation or decoration, or how you plan to use the rooms. When looking at pre-construction, take family visits to a model home and show older children the floor plan and finishes you’ve chosen.

If you’re planning to purchase a new home, touring models can be a bit of an adventure, and a good way to find out what’s important to your children without having them invest too much emotion in any one property. Looking at resale properties can be trickier. Children and teens normally don’t have the powers of discernment necessary to look past the possessions and decor of current owners and imagine the residence as their home. Let’s face it, this is a struggle even for adults.

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Parents also tend to be interested in details that children find boring. Do your best to keep them engaged during the visit. And, finally, touring multiple houses may be disorienting for them. Given these considerations, you may decide to show your children a home only after your offer has been accepted. When you do, encourage them to visualize how the home will look once your belongings are in place. Emphasize the fun that you’ll have there.

From a social point of view, the change in neighbourhoods can be the most challenging aspect of a move for children. Do some research into recreational amenities in the area, with an eye out for activities your children might enjoy. If possible, enrol them in a sport or club of their choosing. This will give them something to look forward to, as well as helping them to meet new friends.

It’s a lot of preparation, but the payoff is big. The first time your children’s laughter travels through the halls, you’ll know you are finally home.

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