Soldiers, Civilian employees, contractors and their Families got a chance to begin building the foundation to their future homes during a Fort Bragg housing expo April 7 at The Commons at Fort McPherson.

The expo, which featured 65 different realtors, property managers and home builders, provided individuals moving to the Fort Bragg, N.C., area later this year the opportunity to see prospective houses and apartments, learn about area schools and communities and have their questions answered by subject matter experts.

Greg Jackson, chief of housing, Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works, said the event was made possible through the cooperation between the Fayetteville, N.C., Board of Realtors, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC).

Jackson anticipates the arrival of more than 2,500 Families to Fort Bragg once FORSCOM and USARC relocate to Fort Bragg due to BRAC, not including contractors and their dependents. He said he hoped the expo helped individuals prepare for their move and that the presenters helped ease their concerns and worries on their upcoming move.

Ease of mind was a selling point for many of the realtors, including Laurie Davis, director of Pinehurst/Southern Pines Area Association of Realtors. Davis, who retails homes in Moore County, west of Fort Bragg, spoke of the great schools, stable market, small-town atmosphere and significant amount of military Families in her area, reassuring prospects that home prices in the area are comparable to Atlanta.

While the expo was meant to answer questions, for some attendees it created new ones, although that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Maj. Michael Gonzalez, training staff officer, USARC G-3/7, said the expo opened many new options for him and his Family: Rosa, his wife, and his children, Ashley, 13, and Michael, 8. The Family, who had taken a two-day trip to Fort Bragg earlier this year, said they had some ideas and a few decent prospects from that trip. However, the expo made them consider a few new areas. "We got some new school information, so we'll look into some new counties we never checked before," Gonzalez said, adding schools was a driving force in where to relocate.

Rosa agreed, adding the expo helped the Family focus on new locations and they will make another trip to the area in May to get an on-site view of those areas. Although Kathy Fullerton did not mention taking a trip to the area like the Gonzalez Family, she shared their enthusiasm about learning about the area. "It's getting me motivated," she said. "There's a lot of information. This is a great thing to have."

Kathy attended the expo with her husband, Lt. Col. David Fullerton, medical training officer, collective training division, USARC. David said the couple learned of the expo through an e-mail message sent by the USARC command team and he was grateful for the chance to participate in the event. He and his wife will move to Fort Bragg around June. "We're just starting to feel around, figure out things," he said. "It's given us some idea as to what we want."

More than 200 people participated in the event. "I hope all the Soldiers and Civilians moving to Fort Bragg were equipped with the information they needed to buy adequate housing and it helped ease their move," Jackson said.