Since early this week, real estate agents have been trying to decide whether to hold an open house on Mother’s Day. The results, I’m sure, will be mixed.
Some will avoid the weekend altogether, some will opt for Saturday visitation instead of Sunday, and still others will charge ahead, confident that Moms, Moms-to-be and Mr. Moms will be looking for homes.
Consider Moms-to-be or Dads-in-waiting. Often, they have a specific timeline; they want to be in a new home before the baby comes.
They tend to look for an upgrade from apartments and condominiums to houses. A key feature may include at least one other bedroom on the same level as where they sleep, so they’ll be close enough to minister to a newborn baby in the middle of the night. That townhouse with the lavish master bedroom that takes up the whole fourth floor just won’t do.
Another request I hear often is for an open kitchen and adjacent family room, so the parent who cooks can keep an eye on the children while preparing the evening repast. A back yard can also be important to new parents as a place for children to play as they grow, and a basement bedroom and bath can be a respite for visiting grandparents or a helpful au pair.
Now fast forward five-10 years. When I hear from those Moms and Dads, the first thing on their minds is usually the location and quality of schools. Since I’m not an authority on the subject, I’ll normally suggest a review of websites such as greatschools.com or sites run by the specific jurisdiction in which they want to live. It’s always helpful for parents to chat with school administrators, teachers and parents of other children to get the latest information on boundaries, class size and successful educational objectives.
Parents of these school-aged children (and by now there may be more than one) will usually look toward expansion in the form of a bigger house than the one they are leaving. A detached home with more bedrooms and bathrooms may be of more interest, particularly if the move will be to a suburban area with less costly housing prices.
Leisure space also becomes more important to the extended family. A fenced yard may now be necessary not only for the kids, but for the family dog, as well as a family room or lower level recreation room large enough for adults to entertain guests, for teenagers to hang out with their friends and play video games, and for the entire family to Netflix and chill.
In another five-10 years, with most of the college tuition paid and an increase in disposable income, these Moms and Dads may be considering the purchase of a second home for family getaways. A beachfront bungalow may fit the bill, or maybe a lake house, a mountain cabin, or a country cottage will be more enticing.
All too soon, though, many couples will have come full circle and, with the children finally out of college (or out of the basement), setting up housekeeping, and beginning families of their own, these parents may choose to downsize and rid themselves of cavernous properties, vacation homes they seldom visit anymore, and the items filling them that they have accumulated over the years.
With empty nests often comes luxury, perhaps in the form of a penthouse condominium with a panoramic view, a doorman, in-house exercise facilities, and a roof deck complete with pool and hot tub. Some couples will prefer a chalet in Jackson Hole, a floating home in Portland, a vineyard in Italy, or even a pied-à-terre in gay Paree (pun intended).
Now may even be the time of life to purchase a recreational vehicle for the cost of covered parking in Georgetown (or more), to relive the wanderlust of youth before buying into a retirement community like The Villages in central Florida or the Four Seasons in Palm Springs, where you can play golf or tennis, dine in a country club setting, get a new ‘do at the salon, or sip umbrella drinks at the pool.
Just as the concept of The American Family has become more diverse, however, their housing needs will be equally varied. Not everyone wants or can afford the life of the family chronicled here, but whether you have a large family, a small one, a fur family, or no family at all, you can still find your bliss.
Perhaps you’ll find it at a Mother’s Day open house.
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at Real Living| At Home. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.