Five things parents need to consider when house-hunting in Queensland

31 Addison Avenue, Bulimba.
31 Addison Avenue, Bulimba.
31 Addison Avenue, Bulimba.

31 Addison Avenue, Bulimba.

39 Instow Street, Yeronga.

39 Instow Street, Yeronga.

39 Instow Street, Yeronga.

39 Instow Street, Yeronga.

39 Instow Street, Yeronga.

39 Instow Street, Yeronga.

When my husband and I bought our first house, a tiny three-bedroom, one-bathroom chamferboard post-war, I looked around it in delight and exclaimed: "We can live here forever!"

At the time we had one child - a one-month-old baby - and the fact that the house was raised up off the ground, the generous backyard was accessed only from the front of the house and the outdoor entertaining area downstairs was built next to a toilet window that never closed, was of no concern to us.

We genuinely believed we could comfortably raise three to four children there.

This will come as a surprise to no one, but fast forward 18 months and we were finding it frustrating to live in. We had quickly realised three things:

1. Kids these days have a lot of stuff. Or rather, my family gave our kid a lot of stuff. There was literally nowhere to put it.

2. My idea of having a toddler free-range around the backyard while I merrily cooked dinner did not work because the backyard was not visible from anywhere inside the house.

3. Dragging a toddler up a flight of brick stairs with the groceries is hard. And dangerous.

Our subsequent house, a modern highset, was built with the beauty of hindsight and we now have four kids, more stuff, but plenty of space. All the living area is on the lower level, where the kitchen, dining and living area all step straight out to the flat backyard. It's bliss.

Place Estate Agents director Sarah Hackett says it's a common bugbear of families with young children, who find the house they bought before kids doesn't work on a practical basis after having kids.

"Due to Queenslanders having the kitchen upstairs, often after being raised and renovated these homes - although beautiful - are difficult for people with young children," she says.

"Ultimately, what parents want when they've got young kids is to keep them close by. They want them safe, they want them easily supervised and they definitely don't want to be running up and down stairs in the middle of the night to small children.

"The ultimate is if the kids and parents' bedrooms are all on one level, while the kitchen and living areas are open plan and overlook a flat, grassy backyard. Bonus points for a playroom near the kitchen so the adults can be close by but close the door on all the toy mess."

Hackett says the demand for houses with these floor plans is insatiable.

"Everyone's looking for them but they're hard to find," she says. "When they do come on the market, they are snapped up. I had one house recently that had 180 people through in four weeks."

However, as kids grow up and change, so do the needs of the household, Hackett says. As toddlers turn into children then into teenagers, parents find they don't need to keep an eye on them every minute of the day, Hackett says.

"This is the stage where those Queenslanders with the bedrooms up and down are perfect for families," she says.

"Once people have teenagers, they find they don't actually want their bedroom right next to their kids' rooms. They want privacy. They don't want to get woken up when their kids come home from clubbing.

"The kids want their own space - a TV room or room for gaming is a massive priority, somewhere to be with their friends separate to their parents, and so is a quiet study space."

Hackett cites 39 Instow Street, Yeronga, as a great example of a home suited to teenage kids.

"This property is big - it's got five bedrooms and three bathrooms - but it's perfect for families who want to have areas to escape to," she says.

"The parents have an incredible master suite with views of the river and their own balcony and then the kids have free rein of downstairs, complete with their own deck overlooking the pool, library-study and rumpus area."

Hackett says it's important for sellers to recognise where their property fits in terms of the family market and understand that the definition of a family home is different depending on what stage of children the buyer's are at.

"I'd tell sellers not to shy away from what their house really is," she says. "If it doesn't suit young families, target buyers with older kids. Understanding the difference will help you sell your house."

Vanessa Mills is selling her family home at 31 Addison Avenue, Bulimba. She has raised two young children there and says her family's needs have begun to change.

Perched on the Brisbane River with the boardwalk out the front, Mills says her five-bedroom, three-bathroom home was ideal when her children were little.

With floor-to-ceiling glass and living areas positioned to capture the backyard, pool and the views, Mills was able to see them from just about every room in the house.

"We were living in a four-level house when we first had our daughter and we quickly realised it wasn't feasible," she says.

"We built this house to be open plan with so much glass and all the living areas on ground level, so not only do we get the river views, we have full vision of the kids at all times. All the bedrooms are upstairs together, so it's such an easy house to live in.

"We also have the boardwalk out the back which was incredible when the kids were leaning to ride bikes and scooters. It was idyllic."

Going forward, Mills says her next home will have more separation to suit the growing independence of her two children.

"We want to be able to accommodate the stage of life they're at when they want more privacy, we want more privacy and where we all need a bit more space from each other," she says.

"I'd say our house actually suits all ages but we're now ready for a change so we'll move on. We'd love to see it go to another family who can enjoy the ease and beauty of living here."

This story Five things parents need to consider when house-hunting in Queensland first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.