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How Much Influence Should Kids Have in Buying Decisions?

June 27, 2018

Fifty-five percent of homeowners who have a child under the age of 18 say their kids’ opinions factored into their homebuying decision, according to a Harris Poll survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults. What’s more, 74 percent of millennial parents—those up to age 36—indicate they took their kids’ opinions under consideration when buying a home. Renters pay even more attention to their children: 83 percent say their kids’ opinions mattered in their housing decisions.

Though the trend is strong, real estate professionals and psychologists are torn on how much kids should be involved in real estate matters. Moving is a big decision, and involving the children more in the process may help them feel a greater sense of control and ownership, clinical psychologist Ryan Hooper told the Chicago Tribune. On the other hand, children could feel rejected if their parents are unable to fulfill their requests, Hooper says.

Adam Lietman Bailey, a New York real estate attorney and author of the children’s book Home, says young children can be part of the homebuying decision without actually making the choice. He encourages parents to make their kids feel included by asking questions regarding what they like about the backyard or where their toys would go in the house. Still, “most parents already know [their kids’] desires and needs,” and “moving decisions are likely at a level above the child’s thinking capacity when choosing a home,” Bailey says.

Tracey Hampson, a real estate pro in Santa Clarita, Calif., says she has a client whose home search has been prolonged because he insists on asking for his young children’s approval on the homes they view. The buyer was finally ready to submit an offer on a home with a pool—until his children started crying. It turns out that they didn’t want a pool. “They ended up not submitting an offer,” Hampson told the Tribune. “So speaking with your children before you make a real estate decision is wise, but I wouldn’t base the purchasing decision solely on their opinions.”

Children can be swayed by home-design TV shows or get stuck on certain features, considering only the immediate benefits to them personally, says Aaron Norris of The Norris Group in Riverside, Calif. “Their opinions can change tomorrow,” adds Julie Gurner, a real estate analyst with FitSmallBusiness.com. “As harsh as it may be to say, this decision should likely not be made contingent on a child’s opinions but rather made with great consideration into what home can meet their needs best. You can give them an opportunity to customize it a bit and make it their own.”