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SPOTLIGHT

Discovery Phase: Destination Assessment

Researching your destination location well in advance will help you make good informed decisions about your move. We suggest a structured home finding approach to help you and your family zero in on the right neighborhood. A tried and proven method is the ‘bulls eye’ approach. This simple process starts your search at the outer ring of the target and slowly works into the center bull’s eye, which we call home. To understand these methods in more detail see the Searching for a New Home section. 

Move Decision Bullseye ApproachA common mistake in the home search process is when someone relies too heavily on a real estate agent in the early stages. Do your research up front for the first two outer rings or more. Only you know what you and your family need. Once you've gotten a feel for the areas that will work best for you, have your agent confirm your findings and do the final steps to bring you home. Log your results on the Discovery and Decision form. 

Regional

Begin your destination research by looking at large areas consisting of a county, group of towns or some other large geographical reference. Assess the availability of the items below and importance of having them in a regional setting near you.

  • Economic stability: ensure that the area you choose has ample industry nearby. A region rich with stable company presence is less likely to undergo a financial decline and will provide job opportunities for you and your family.
  • Employment: Confirm a satisfactory unemployment rate for the region, median salary ranges, and the fields of work available in the event you need alternate employment in the future.
  • Commutation: proximity of the region to your place of work, as well as any family members moving with you. Assess the availability of mass transit if needed for commutation.
  • Services: those services that are not needed on a daily basis but are important to keep close by, such as hospitals, physicians, veterinarians and auto dealerships or repair.
  • Shopping: stores that are not needed on a regular basis but are good to have near by, including shopping malls and furniture stores.
  • Family and Friends: if possible, always try to be in the vicinity of family or friends for support.
  • Colleges: if needed, county or state colleges that are a commutable distance.

Township

Your next step towards the bull’s eye is at the township level. Look for demographic information that is important to you and specific services that you will need locally in town.

  • Town demographics: investigate statistics to see if a town meets your needs. Focus on the demographic information that is important to you. Common statistics that people normally look at include population or geographic size, median family income, political status and property tax rates.
  • Neighborhood variety: be sure that the town you choose has a variety of neighborhoods that will meet your style of life, as well as your price range.
  • Crime statistics: crime is present in every town but you should limit your risk whenever possible. Check with authorities or police blotters to see the types of crime that are typical in the town that you are interested in.
  • Schooling: even if you do not have children it is advisable to choose a town with good schools. A top-notch school system will help keep up property values. Look for school rank among other towns, graduation rates, curriculum choices, teacher awards, extra curricular activities, sports programs, and more. Also be sure that the school has special programs for gifted and talented, individual education assistance and special needs children.
  • Other child services: look for additional services, like after school watch programs, daycare availability including waitlist times, nursery school availability including age limitations, and busing policies for all schools.
  • Religious: check to be sure that there are religious activities nearby that are consistent with your needs.
  • Shopping and services: close access to shopping and services may be helpful for groceries, workout facilities, movie theaters, favorite restaurants and other services.
  • Convenience: look for town sponsored programs, including a senior center and busing, recycling pickup, garbage or dump day pickup, library, and other services.

Neighborhood

The neighborhood search is a much more personal aspect of the search, getting very specific with the types of available housing, the general age of people, safety and more.

  • Safety: assess neighborhood safety, including proximity to the local police station, fire department, fire hydrants and emergency services. High access areas generated by highways or child safety near train lines are reason for concern. Understand the rational for gated access to communities or guardian patrol programs if they exist.  Always check for child predators in the area at the National Sex Offender public website.
  • Affordability: housing must be affordable to you for both purchase and rental properties, and the size of the home should meet your needs.
  • Fit: look to match your style for city, urban or rural settings, age appropriate neighborhoods, areas that are rich with children, parks and open space, proximity to schools and services, and other lifestyle choices.
  • Utilities: assess your need for town supplied water or sewer versus well water or septic systems.

Home

Your final step in the destination search is finding the home that’s right for you. To complete your destination assessment it’s not necessary to move to this step right now. For more on choosing the right home go to Buying Your New Home or Your New Lease.

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