Make Relocation Part of Your Business

For the fourth year in a row, Metropolitan Chicago claimed the top spot on Site Selection magazine’s list of corporate growth, relocation and investment. And, we nabbed the second spot on ATTOM Data Solution’s list of top cities for relocation buyers for the third quarter of 2017. For anyone who’s kept track of the business news lately, that’s no surprise. The race for talent is critical for growing companies – Caterpillar, McDonald’s, Dyson, Beam Suntory, ConAgra, Kraft Heinz and GE Healthcare, amongst others, have all announced plans or relocated major headquarters to Chicago within the past few years. With any luck, Amazon could join that list in 2018. With so many companies discovering the many perks of doing business in the Windy City, we put together this guide to help you better understand what’s important to relocating clients and how you can make the move easier.
According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the third most commonly cited reason for selling their home was a job relocation (11 percent).

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication and follow-up, crucial for any real estate transaction, takes on an outsized importance for any out-of-state or international relocation. Keep in mind that potential clients who may be relocating to Chicago may never have actually visited our city – and what they’ve seen on the news may be their only frame of reference. It’ll be your job, as the local expert, to show them why they would love to live, work and play here. If you’re looking to position yourself as a relocation specialist, don’t waste time trying to court potential clients with a standard sales pitch. Instead, take the personalized approach. Make contact as soon as possible after receiving client information. During your initial call with the client, try to make a personal connection – what appeals to one person won’t appeal to another. Instead, get to know the client and their family. What’s important to them? What are their hobbies? What are their schooling needs? Will a spouse need a job, as well? Do they have any special needs? What is their moving timeline? Personally give them a taste of their potential new home. A community tour is a great way to do this – take the family out to show them the parts of our city that meet their needs and desires. Pointing out the rich history of their potential new neighborhood, as well as nearby attractions, parks and amenities, will help illustrate why you love our city, and why they likely will, too. Ensure they understand that you are there for them throughout the process. You should not only be knowledgeable about the homes you’re showing them and the market at large; you should also understand the community. Relocation involves more than just a new roof over your clients’ heads and new friends; it also includes new schools, doctors, restaurants, athletic teams, grocery stores and child care. Your job is to act as the guide throughout the decision-making process and be their well-informed resource.

Talk to Your Clients About their Relocation Package

Every company offers a different relocation package – and since the recession, relocation packages look fairly different from a decade ago. The Wall Street Journal reported in May that fewer companies are offering mortgage assistance, down-payment assistance and mortgage interest differential allowances.  Depending on the size of the company, some may reimburse employees for any losses in a home sale, but this is becoming a rarer practice. Instead, many are going the route of the lump sum relocation payment, which allows the client the opportunity to efficiently allocate funds themselves and defray moving costs. Understanding what is included in your client’s relocation package is a crucial step to helping them find a new home in their new city.

Understand Your Clients’ Needs

You already know that every client is unique. Relocations are no different. The needs of a baby boomer couple looking for a pied-à-terre are going to be different than the Gen X family, which will be different than the single Millennial businesswoman or the partnered Gen Y businessman. The National Association of REALTORS®’ Research and Statistics division will be helpful as you come to better understand the needs of your clients. Two reports, in particular, can help guide you. Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report – This report helps to break down what different generations are looking for in a home. From Millennials, to Baby Boomers, and beyond, each generation differs in what they are looking for in their neighborhood and in their home purchase. This will help you market properties most effectively to your clients, and better identify the types of housing and special considerations of your buyers. Moving with Kids Report – As any parent knows, moving with a family adds a whole new layer of questions and needs. This report will help you get a stronger sense of what a family looks for in a community and in a home, such as convenience versus quality of schools.

Take Control of Client Satisfaction

One of the trickiest parts of advising relocation clients can be in recommending movers. Nationally-recognized brands may vary on their service at the local level, so unless you know the people who will personally be helping your client pack and move, there’s no way to completely guarantee customer satisfaction. Instead, consider recommending moving companies you have personal experience with. For an extra dose of security, refer clients to these two websites:
  • is an independent site with message boards, reviews and tools for consumers to find reputable moving companies. They also have resources for national and international moves and relocations.
  • is a resource from the Department of Transportation designed to provide information about consumer rights and responsibilities and alert them to the risks of fraud.

Tools for An Easier Move

There are a handful of moving apps and cloud services that can make relocation tasks easier for your clients to manage, and take your service above and beyond.
  • UpdaterClients can use the Updater app to streamline and organize moving-related chores, such as changing the address, setting up utilities and forwarding mail. You can also purchase and customize the app for your clients.
  • Move AdvisorA suite of tools for planning and organizing a move, including calculating moving costs, keeping track of the moving timeline, securing bids and ordering services from reputable moving companies.
  • moveAtlasA product of Atlas Van Lines, this app includes a planner, packing tips, moving day checklist, bid requests from moving companies and integration with Atlas’ tracking systems to monitor shipping status.
  • Move CaptainWith this app, users can capture photos and video of household items to get bids on services from local movers.
  • Move®’s own moving website has tools and advice for moving day. Move Planner also has a calculator for estimating moving costs and packing needs and all the articles and tips a client may need for a stress-free move.
  • SortlyIf your clients love organization, they will love this tool! Sortly allows you to take inventory and capture images of belongings in each room, then organize the photos in folders to make unpacking simpler and more streamlined.
  • UnpaktA free cloud service that simplifies the process of finding a moving company, Unpakt generates guaranteed bids from local and national moving companies via user-uploaded data (like destination address and number/types of belongings).