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This is how you choose a home for a growing family

Home buyers and those who build their own homes can change almost anything about a home, from open-plan spaces to building an extra bedroom or granny flat. What they will never be able to change is the home’s location.

This is according to Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of mortgage originator, BetterLife Home Loans, who says growing families need to choose the right area first and foremost.

The non-negotiablesyoung girl at school classroom resize

#1 Safety and security. Children need safe places to play and to meet or visit with their friends. This is one of the reasons why gated developments and closed-off neighbourhoods are so popular with family homebuyers.

#2 Good schools close to home. As well as wanting to provide a quality education, most parents with school-going children would like to save time spent travelling to-and-fro for sporting and other extra-mural activities, and thus don’t want to live too far from the school gates.

#3 Other families. It’s great to live in an area where many of your neighbours are at a similar stage of life and your children can all grow up together.

#4 Proximity to work. Spending more time with their children and less time commuting to and from work is a major consideration for most parents.

The negotiablesToy storage.resize

The next thing to think about is a home that will “grow with you” as your family’s needs change, says Rademeyer.

#1 Lots of storage. Having children means having more stuff. Ensure your home has long-term storage like a basement or shed as well as plenty of easy-access storage like closets and cabinets. It is also really useful to have an additional room that can be used as a playroom or as a music and computer room for older children.

#2 The correct floorplan. Some family homes have the master bedroom at the opposite end of the house to the children’s bedrooms, and that may be appealing to the parents of teenagers. However, those with young children will probably feel more secure having all the bedrooms together.

#3 Family space. You may not be an award-winning chef, but a good kitchen can be a major gathering place for a family. It’s also a good idea to look for a home with a large informal living space that everyone can enjoy together.

#4 Extra accommodation. Working parents with young children may also need a home with room to accommodate a full-time au-pair or nanny, and those with older families might also need extra space for grandparents to visit or even live.

It is really important for buyers to be realistic about what they can afford, too, says Rademeyer. “Consider the additional expenses involved in raising children and saving for long-term goals such as tertiary education or their own retirement,” he says, noting that small children may need day care, for example, and the cost of private schooling for older children is very high. “Then there are things like school field trips and sports tours, extramural classes and family holidays to include in the budget.

Here’s how to budget for your R2m child

“All of these activities come at a cost and may affect the size of home loan for which parents can qualify, and thus what they can afford to pay for the family home. Indeed, we always suggest that they consult a reputable mortgage originator such as BetterLife Home Loans so they can establish their property budget before they go house hunting.”

Buying for schooling: Cape Town

The last available land in Rondebosch, measuring just over 15,000m2 (just over 1,5ha) has been listed on a tender basis.

Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs are top of mind for buyers and tenants with school going children, thanks to its proximity to some of the country’s top schools and the University of Cape Town.

This is according to Nelio Mendes, marketing manager for IHPC estate agency, who says Rondebosch and Newlands are suburbs in the forefront in terms of demand because of their proximity to reputable schools and UCT.

“The prices of homes in these areas show just how sought-after property is there,” he says. “The average price of a freehold home in Rondebosch according to Lightstone stats on sales from March to May 2016, is R5,273m. Homes in estates in Rondebosch will cost around R4m. The average for sectional title property is listed as R1,869m (with these units often bought by investors or parents wanting their children to have a home close to UCT).

“The average price of a freehold home in Newlands is listed at R6,145m, while estate homes average R4,55m and sectional title R2,661m on average.”

Pinelands is a good alternative for those who would like to live in the Southern Suburbs and want to be close to the same amenities that Rondebosch and Newlands enjoy, says Mendes, with schooling alternatives in Pinelands itself being very good.

“There are good state primary and high schools, as well as private schools – including a Waldorf school and a selection of pre-primary institutions,” he says, noting that freehold houses in Pinelands cost around R2,9m. There is a marked difference between the prices of homes in estates, with the average being listed as R2,055m, and sectional title, where the average price is just less than R1m.

Don’t scoff at the North

Table View and Sunningdale in the north boast government schools as well as private campuses that cater to all age groups, says Mendes, adding that this is drawing buyers to the area.

According to Lightstone, the average price of a freehold home in Tableview is R1,9m and a home in an estate is approximately R1,139m. Sectional title units cost in the region of R1,1m.

“Sunningdale, by comparison, does not have any sectional title units listed but only homes in estates and freehold property,” he says. “A home in an estate would cost approximately R1,5m and a freehold home around R1,6m.

“The difference in bond repayments from a R3m price bracket to R5m is huge. A monthly repayment on a R3m bond taken over 20 years at 10,5% interest is R26,956, and a R5m bond repayment at the same rate over the same period is R44,927.

“This could be the tipping point between sending your child to a fantastic school or a mediocre one as you might not be able to afford both the high bond as well as the school. In some instances, it’s better to choose the school because of its offerings rather than going with tradition and choose an area that you will be able to purchase the housing space that is needed for a growing family.”

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David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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