If you are in the market for being relocated in the future due to a job change, you or your partner/spouse may be assigned a one of many relocation companies to handle your move. It all sounds good from the initial discussion, your company advises they will connect you with your relocation counselor and they will handle all aspects of your upcoming move. Great!
I have worked personally with relocation companies for the majority of our moves. Some were overseas relocations and some were domestic in the United States. After several less than acceptable experiences, I decided to obtain my real estate license and after learning all of the tricks of the trade, want to share with YOU, the eight top things your relocation company won’t tell you before you set out on one of the biggest journeys of your life.
1. You CAN choose your own real estate agent.
When you make first contact with your relocation company or specifically, the counselor assigned to handle your move, they will most likely automatically assign a real estate agent to you – one based on your current location and one based on your new location – and one that is under contract with them to hand over a portion of their commission8th. Even if you are renting in either location, they will let you know that an agent will be in touch with you to begin discussing your upcoming move.
While this may seem like a benefit (in that you don’t have to do that work yourself), it often means you are being handed an agent from their database or network, without any real regard having been paid to the needs of your family, the personality of the agent and whether they are the right fit for the job.
"You can choose your own real estate agent and often times, while the company policies may state the agent cannot be a family member, if you offer 2-3 potential agent names to your relocation company, odds are they will allow you to choose your own agent. In the long run, wouldn’t you want to know that the agent YOU choose is working for you and your family?"
2. You may need (and may possibly be approved for) more than one look-see visit.
If your relocation package includes a look-see trip, you will have some benefits as it relates to transportation and accommodations while you search for your new home. Depending on your family situation, it may take more than one trip and you should not hesitate to discuss any such need with your relocation counselor / HR Department if this situation applies.
3. You will have multiple points of contact within the company, not JUST your assigned counselor.
It may sound fantastic to get the call from your relocation counselor as he or she explains that they will be your main point of contact. Just what you’ve dreamed about, ONE person to communicate with as you navigate your relocation. The reality – sometimes – is that you will have many more people to talk with. Consider your two real estate agents (one where you are currently and one where you’re moving), you’ll also have someone to handle the pets in your home, if that applies. If you are moving vehicles, you can add on another person. It’s quite possible you will also need to communicate separately with the person in charge of your actual freight shipment and if you can believe it, someone to coordinate your own transportation – whether by car, train or plane. Even though you may feel uncomfortable, it is always a good idea to keep your HR rep in the loop, especially if things start to slip sideways.
4. You will need to ask if your counselor is in the same time zone as you.
This may sound odd to you, but when your relocation counselor is first assigned to you, make sure they are located in the same time zone as you — more specifically — in the same time zone as where you are GOING. There is nothing worse than having shipments arrive, or problems arise with your real estate agent, or any host of issues and then you discover your relocation counselor isn’t at the office yet, or has already left for the day. This is most common when dealing with international moves, but can also wreak havoc during a domestic move as well. Find out when their normal office hours are and request an after hours number, right off the bat.
5. You will need to be clear about communication preferences.
This also sounds like a no brainer, but if you don’t tend to check email often, let your relocation counselor know that you prefer texts. Or, if you don’t like texting, let them know that you communicate best via phone and advise which number you can best be reached at. It also is beneficial when you can be crystal clear about your expectations as they relate to return phone calls and emails. If you operate best when you receive a “received and noted” type of response after you reach out to someone, let your relocation counselor be aware of that. It can be frustrating to send an email, with what feels like an urgent issue, only to hear crickets in the days following.
Finally, on this topic, ask if your relocation counselor is going to be on vacation or otherwise out of the office during your relocation process and if so, request ahead of time, the names and phone numbers of their supervisor, as well as of the person who will be handling their case load during their absence.
6. You need to know about buy outs.
Relocation companies that buy houses call this a buy out, which means if your home does not sell in a specified period of time, your company will “buy out” your mortgage. ON the surface of things, this sounds like a policy that alleviates the pressure to sell. I have seen too many people rest on their laurels and not fight for top dollar when selling their home, because of this policy. In reality, the buy out policy is only meant to leave you NOT harmed (meaning, the buy out price is not necessarily representative of what your home will appraise at or otherwise sell for). However, if your home is being placed on the market during a time not conducive to a traditional sale, this policy does have its merits.
7. You need to remember that this relocation IS about the family, not just the employee.
If the non-employee adult is going to be taking the lead on the relocation, make sure that your HR Department AND the relocation counselor are very aware of this. If it applies to you, request that the employee only be contacted in cases where the non-employee is not able to be reached. Relocation companies do not work for you and your family, they work for the employer’s company. At the end of the day, you need to take control of the situation and ensure that the relocation happens smoothly, while utilizing the resources that have been provided for you.
The relocation companies who have been around for awhile (I call them the monsters) have many years of experience working for companies who relocate their employees.
"If you ask me, the old school relocation companies have forgotten what it means to truly service the global mobile family."
The newer up and coming companies who are just entering the space of relocation haven’t been in existence long enough to fully know what it takes to relocate a family and are still very employee-centric.
8. You may not be insured on items that you pack yourself.
If you have a relocation package that includes a moving company packing your household goods, it is possible that your policy / package does NOT allow for insurance coverage on any items that you pack yourself. What this means practically is this: most often the listing agent hired to sell your house will have a professional stager come through your home to give advice and tips on how to purge, rearrange and otherwise set up your house to look its best during showings. She may even say something like “You’re going to have to pack anyway, you might as well get a head start” or something along those lines.
"The reality inside of a relocation is that often you AREN’T the one that is going to pack, and anything you place in tubs or boxes will have a “PBO” sticker placed across the top by the packing crew, which means if any contents are damaged in transit, those items will not fall under the reimbursable claim policy."
Relocating can be extremely stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are in need of some guidance in this realm, fill out the contact form below and let us assist YOU in making your next relocation the best yet! We have amazing resources to share with you, including a helpful checklist to use during your first contact with your HR Department and/or relocation counselor, step-by-step tips and hacks to avoid the “PBO” sticker situation mentioned above, advice on how to get the most out of your look-see visit, and more.