Information Makes Move Easier on All
Paris, Ellen, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Moving to a new area is never easy. You can feel like a stranger in a strange land. But take heart - plenty of information is available to ease this difficult transition for you and your family.
Between the new technology of the Internet and the old-fashioned customer service that a number of Washington area Realtors offer, getting to know the Washington area can be easy.
Weichert Realtors' relocation company provides packages that include driver manuals, a children's moving guide, school reports, area profiles and a spouse relocating guide.
"The first thing we do is provide a family with a professionally trained relocation counselor to find out their needs and establish a family profile," says Betty Votta, vice president of client services at Weichert Relocation (www.weichert.com).
In addition to housing needs, the counselor also looks at family interests, educational requirements and, in some cases, available medical resources.
Although Weichert is employed by many companies for relocating their employees, this service is available without charge to anyone.
The National Association of Realtors' Web site (www.realtor.com) has lots of useful information. At its Resource Center, visitors can compare the cost of living from one city to another. Homes on the market throughout the country can be viewed by ZIP code to see what comparable homes are selling for in the area of your destination.
The site also includes the Relocation Crime Lab, which compares the destination city with your current residence. (For instance, Asheville, N.C., came in with a higher Crime Lab rating than Alexandria.)
Long & Foster's corporate relocation management firm (www.longandfoster.com) does an in-depth needs assessment when it works with a corporate transferee or new hire. "We look at their expenses, give them area orientation, home-finding assistance, school information and offer employment assistance for the trailing spouse," says Doris Glover, vice president of corporate services.
The right type of orientation is key to making people comfortable, she says. One thing she always tells people: "Don't look at houses first. Find the area that will suit your needs and get as comfortable as you can with it before you get into a home-buying situation. The worst thing you can do is look at a dozen houses in a day and fall in love with a particular house and know nothing about an area."
Many savvy real estate agents around the country have their own Web sites. When searching (using a growing number of available sites with an inventory of homes), begin by simply typing in a city or an area and homes for sale within a certain price range. As with any search try to be as specific as possible.
Preparing for your move well in advance definitely can reduce the stress level. The Alexandria-based American Moving & Storage Association, the trade association of the country's moving industry, has lots of information on how to make your move successful. The association's Web site (www.amconf.org) is a resource for people before they move, featuring all kinds of consumer tips on relocating.
It's no surprise that June, July and August are the busiest months in the moving industry. The group's latest numbers show that professional movers pick up one-third of all household good shipments during those months. Booking as far in advance as possible helps - as does being flexible about your moving dates.
Last year, according to association figures, more people moved to the Washington area than left. …