How to get the most out of your discovery package
By JG Walker
Nearly all residential developments and retirement communities now offer “Discovery Package” deals designed to encourage in-person visits. Generally speaking, for a fee starting at $100-$300, you’ll get a night or two of accommodations at an on-site property or nearby hotel, plus complimentary extras like meals, a round of golf, a spa visit, and the like. You’ll also be given a tour of the development.
If you’re serious about making a move and finding out what a given community has to offer, a Discovery Package can be a great way to jump-start that process. Here are some tips to get the most out of your visit:
- If you’ve focused on a particular geographical area, consider scheduling more than one Discovery Package while you’re there. Comparing and contrasting what each community has to offer is a great way to enhance the quality of your decision-making process.
- Prior to your visit, research local real estate values and trends. Also, think about the lifestyle you envision in the context of what amenities and social opportunities that the community offers.
- Inquire about state and local taxes: Does the community’s state have an income tax (some don’t) and what are the rates? Does the state tax pensions and investments? What are the local property tax rates, as well as any state or local sales taxes?
- Find out how the community is governed: Is it still controlled by the development company or has that authority been ceded to a homeowners association? Who owns the roads and common areas? Is there a reserve fund for that work and/or an annual assessment for their upkeep? What is the mechanism for determining when any special assessments are necessary?
- Ask about any architectural guidelines or other building restrictions in the community, particularly if you’re planning to build a new home or make any renovations/additions to the property. You can also request a copy of the community masterplan and a timetable for the establishment of new neighborhoods or the completion of promised amenities.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to talk with current community residents. Many Discovery Packages include a meeting or shared meal with designated “Community Ambassadors.” These can be very enlightening. But don’t pass up the chance to introduce yourself to other residents you may encounter and ask about their experiences.
- Set aside some time to go “outside the gates” and explore the area around the community. How far is it to the nearest medical facilities and what is the quality of services they provide? Where are the local grocery stores and other retail outlets that you’ll frequently visit? What cultural amenities and entertainment attractions are available in the region?
Whatever your goals are for your future, taking advantage of a Discovery Package deal can be a smart first step in achieving them. After all, getting the information you need—and having some fun while you’re doing it—can be a win-win proposition.