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How to ... Buy a kid-friendly home

Diana Oplinger reads a book to her daughter Rachel, 3, in Rachel’s room in their Blaine home.

Do not buy a home with the master bedroom on a different floor to the children’s bedrooms. We did that, not even realizing it would be 
a problem, and as a result we have been sleeping in the guest bedroom for the past four years. The downstairs master suite is 
used only by the pets.” 
Diana Oplinger, Blaine
Diana Oplinger reads a book to her daughter Rachel, 3, in Rachel’s room in their Blaine home. Do not buy a home with the master bedroom on a different floor to the children’s bedrooms. We did that, not even realizing it would be a problem, and as a result we have been sleeping in the guest bedroom for the past four years. The downstairs master suite is used only by the pets.” Diana Oplinger, Blaine PHILIP A. DWYER THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
  • School district should be your number-one priority,” says Jay Reilly, a real estate agent with Windermere Real Estate and a Bellingham resident for the past 16 years. “Research which jurisdiction you want your children to enter and find a home in a corresponding neighborhood.” Much of that research can be done on the Internet, as most school districts have Web sites that allow you to research district boundaries and provide information on school performance.
  • Your choice of a home for your future family should definitely be influenced by the neighborhood itself, says Reilly. “Is it a safe environment? If so, opt for a cul-de-sac if possible, and choose a home with a back yard. After that, look for amenities in the house that correspond with your needs and price range.”
  • Consider the number of bedrooms you anticipate requiring for your family, advises Mike Minninger, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Miller-Arnason who has lived in Bellingham all his life.
  • “Once they get older, kids tend to have quite a bit of toys and other things, so being able to keep their stuff in a playroom is handy. A basement makes a great recreational room or playroom, and a second bathroom is also ideal when you have kids.”

  • Don’t underestimate the need for a yard, or alternately, a nearby park, cautions Minninger. “Kids need a play area outside to run off all of that extra energy. A large yard or a nearby park are great for exercise and fun. A fenced yard is also a good feature to keep little ones from wandering away.”
  • Too much traffic is never a good thing when you have little ones. Look for a home on a less-traveled street, advises Minninger, drawing from personal experience as a father. “We live in a cul-de-sac, and it has been great for bike riding and all sorts of fun activities.”
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