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    Homebuying & Selling | 4 min read

    How Much Home Do You Need? Tips from Iconic TV Families

    It’s safe to say that the Brady Bunch family lived in a packed house—six kids, two parents, and an occasional dog take up a lot of real estate! Although the TV show was filmed on a Paramount set, the producers used an actual home for all the exterior shots.

    According to House Beautiful, “The Brady Bunch house was originally a ranch-style, split-level home with 3-rooms, 3-baths, and spanned 2,477 square feet. Its backyard was also an impressive 0.29 acres, one of the largest in the neighborhood.”

    Which, okay. I’m sorry 1970s television producers, but eight people in a 2,477 square foot home seems a little cramped. For comparison, the median size of a new single-family home sold in 2020 was 2,333 square feet—down from 2,687 in 2015.

    There are plenty of examples of our favorite TV characters living in tight quarters and making it work. In Schitt’s Creek, the Roses are banished from their multimillion-dollar mansion and forced to make do living in two attached motel rooms between four adults.

    The actual motel from the show was just listed for sale in Canada for $1.6 million. According to Life and Style, “Though the on-screen hotel is said to have nine rooms, the 4,300-square foot building actually has six units that have one bedroom and one bathroom each. It also has a pretty impressive two-story manager’s suite with three bedrooms and one bathroom.”

    Taking out 1,300 square feet for that impressive manager’s suite, that means the Roses were living in rooms of about 500 square feet apiece. This may sound like a stretch, but to be honest, it’s larger than my first studio apartment.

    Figuring out what size home is best suited to your family’s needs can be tricky. The impulse may be to buy as much home as you can get, but if you’re not planning on having a huge family, you may end up feeling like you have too much space on your hands. Contrastingly, if you bought a smaller home and are now planning a family expansion, you may need more room in the near future.

    Here are the top questions you should ask yourself when deciding how much home is right for you:

    Question #1: How many people will be living in your home?

    Did you know that the number of children living with their parents and grandparents, or a "three-generation household," has nearly doubled over the past two decades? When considering how much square footage you need, you’ll want to think about how many family members will be in the house, how many bedrooms you’ll need (i.e. if you have kids, will they share a bedroom or have their own?), and how many bathrooms. Decide whether having space for overnight guests is a must.

    Consider how much physical space your family needs to create comfortable living boundaries in your home. For example, if one or more people will be working from home, you’ll probably appreciate at least one dedicated office space.

    Question #2: What’s your family plan over the next five years?

    Your living space may be great for your current family size, but it’s important to plan for the future. If you expect your family size to increase in the next few years, whether by having a baby or caring for an elderly parent in your home, it might make the most sense to buy a larger home you can grow into.

    On the other hand, if your teenage children are expected to go off to college in the next few years, you may want to think about downsizing to a smaller space.

    Questions #3: How much home can you comfortably afford?

    Buying a home comes with several expenses beyond your monthly mortgage payment. These additional expenses can make a big impact on the overall cost of homeownership.

    The term “house poor” refers to homeowners who are short on cash for discretionary items or struggle to meet other financial obligations because their mortgage payment requires the bulk of their income. Avoid becoming "house poor" by investigating the following items before buying your home:

    • The amount of homeowners insurance and taxes you could potentially have to pay
    • If there are any Homeowners Association (HOA) fees
    • The average cost of utilities
    • Typical recurring maintenance expenses

    It’s advisable to buy not what you’ve been approved for, but what you can comfortably afford. In fact, most experts recommend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income should go to your mortgage payment.

    There’s so much more to consider beyond square footage before making an offer on a house. Evaluate the things you love about the home and ask yourself whether you’ll still love it in five or 10 years. Be sure and take the future into consideration before you decide to become a homeowner.

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    Amanda Harr

    A graduate of the Plan II Honors program at UT Austin, Amanda Harr is the Content Manager for SWBC. A clever wordsmith who appreciates artful persuasion and authenticity in writing, Amanda uses a structured creative process to craft marketing strategies, develop communications solutions, and deliver top-notch content.

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