The very words “you’ve been transferred” can strike fear into even the most self-assured. Most transferee’s must contend with the unexpected challenge of selling an existing home while finding a new home in an unknown community – and having to do it pronto. What can you do when faced with a transfer? To shake off the relocation jitters and achieve a smooth move, you need to consider a few strategic steps. We list them below in the form of a job relocation checklist.
1. Take advantage of company relocation benefits
Employers often offer relocation counselling and services, and some may even carry many or all of the expenses associated with a move; therefore, the first point in our job relocation checklist is take advantage of these benefits. Relocation counsellors can help anticipate aspects of the move and effectively manage the process.
They can also aid you in decision-making and help you approach the move with a positive attitude. To get you from Point A to Point B, firms generally provide straight reimbursement for documented expenses or designate a fixed relocation allowance.
2. Identify real estate professionals in a quality company
While you may prefer to work with a certain real estate professional to sell your existing home, how do you choose a real estate agent in a distant community to help you with the purchase of your new home? As you talk with potential sales associates, make sure they specialize in the types of homes and areas that you are interested in. It’s also important to consider the reputation of the company where the real estate professional works. Since you may need to select someone sight unseen, make sure he or she is backed by a reputable and professional organization. To help you evaluate the company, ask if they have a web site and research their company on the Internet.
3. Familiarize yourself with the realestate market in your target area
An important point on our checklist is getting to know the realestate market in the new area. One way to do this is to scan the real estate section of back issues of the newspapers circulated in your target area. Most major newspapers are available at local libraries, and major research libraries maintain archives of even wider selections of newspapers. You can further familiarize yourself with the market by reviewing listings online. Some major real estate networks also post listings online as well, for example, in Cambridge, Ontario property listings can be found at www.homesincambridge.com.
4. Evaluate your new community
Start by developing a list of criteria to evaluate communities and neighborhoods. Consider including such factors as commuting; school systems; parks; libraries and community facilities; property tax rates and other taxes; crime rates; cost of living; current and historical property values; age and character of neighborhoods; recreation; outdoor activities and arts; community organizations such as churches, charities and sports clubs; shopping; health care; and other amenities, services and costs. Check your local library for “Places Rated Almanac” or research your new community on the Internet.
Keep in mind that neighborhoods within the same community can vary greatly. Never choose a home without some firsthand knowledge of the neighborhood. Pick up a local map and plot where the prospective community is in relation to major highways, train tracks and other potentially noisy areas. Ask yourself what sort of neighborhood you’d like to live in. Do you envision it being filled with young families or mostly adults?
Would you like a newly constructed development with all the amenities or an older, established neighborhood with towering trees? Are the things that are important to you conveniently located nearby?
5. Determine your price range
Working with your real estate professional or relocation specialist, estimate the price range to which you will confine your search. Many advisors recommend that your debt ratio be no greater than 40% of your gross monthly income. In other words, when combined, a car loan, tuition loan, credit card debt, property taxes, insurance, mortgage and other debts should not exceed 40% of your gross monthly income. The best way to determine your price range is to obtain pre-approval from a home mortgage lender. As an added benefit, buyers may take you more seriously with this written commitment from a lender.
6. Develop a home evaluation checklist
Include rankings for the facts you consider most important-price, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, condition of the home, curb appeal and features. Keep track of the amenities each home offers. These may include laundry facilities, appliances, fireplaces, decorator features, landscaping, etc. Assign a point value to each criterion and rank the home accordingly.
7. Communicate with your real estate professional
Because an agent may represent the seller, the buyer or both, find out where you stand. Then, verify that your real estate professional knows exactly what you need and want. Take photographs of your current home or clip pictures from magazines to illustrate the kinds of features you’d like in a new home. Good communication can result in a faster home sale, more quickly identifying a new home and a quicker, easier relocation. When negotiations begin, let your real estate professional know that you want to hear the good news along with the bad. If you don’t understand what’s going on, don’t hesitate to ask questions.
8. Prepare for the big day
The last point on our job relocation checklist: prepare for the moving day.
A relocation specialist should be able to provide you with a moving planner that counts down to the moving day. If not, create one yourself. You will need to secure estimates and determine what to move and what to dispose of well ahead of the move.
The strategy is to plan every step: from inventorying your possessions, to making needed repairs, scheduling packing days, obtaining packing materials, making travel arrangements, transferring school records . . .even defrosting the freezer.
Most important of all – important enough to be assumed not only on this one but on all types of job relocation checklists – approach your relocation with a positive attitude. Moving can be painful or joyous, depending on whom you consult, how well you plan, and how openly you approach the task. Through a process of sound decision-making, you can banish the relocation jitters and ensure a smooth start to a new life.