Middlebury drafts surveys to evaluate housing market

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Planning Commission will be circulating two new surveys to better discern, and help solve, the obstacles that young families are finding as they look for housing in the community.
At issue are two, seven-question surveys drafted by the commission’s housing subcommittee. One of the surveys will be distributed to people who have purchased homes in Middlebury within the past year and a half, according to Town Planner Eric Blair.
The other survey will be distributed to workers at some of the town’s largest businesses, including Middlebury public schools, Middlebury College and Porter Medical Center.
Middlebury officials hope the surveys will paint a reliable picture of what kinds of homes young families are looking for and what kind of neighborhood amenities are in most demand.
“We have a lot of anecdotal information about families with young children having a challenging time finding homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range,” said Barbara Saunders, co-director of the Mary Johnson Children’s Center and a member of the housing subcommittee. “We thought we need better information. The anecdotal stories are wonderful, but we thought we should do a survey to find out more.”
Saunders credited as a survey catalyst a series of articles in the Addison Independent that explored various challenges for young families in Addison County. The planning commission is looking forward to survey results to help inform future conversations about how local planning might ease some of the challenges for this demographic.
Local Realtors helped the subcommittee identify recent homebuyers within the Middlebury/East Middlebury market, according to Blair. There have been around 250 property closings during the past year, he said. The survey to be sent to buyers will include such questions as, “Was there a good inventory (of housing) in East Middlebury/Middlebury of your preferred housing type to choose from?” Respondents will also be asked to reveal what it was about the Middlebury area that attracted them — commute time, type of housing, schools, amenities, parks and recreation, shopping, or other factors.
Blair said the survey will be sent out to homebuyers in the near future. Each survey will include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for mailing back the completed document.
Meanwhile, the second survey asks prospective buyers what kind of housing they prefer, what price range they could afford, what kind of housing they currently occupy, and what kinds of obstacles have prevented them from settling in the Middlebury area thus far.
Plans call for around 2,000 of the second surveys to be distributed to local workers, according to Blair. They will be dropped off and then collected at the participating businesses.
Information from both surveys will be studied and tabulated in June for the commission to study and form the basis for ideas to help make the local housing market more accessible.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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