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Big Opportunity: the Relocation Renter

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By John B. Sculley, SCRP

rental_home_coupleIt’s no secret in the corporate relocation world that homeowner moves have become much scarcer. That’s a troubling reality for businesses that had come to depend on real estate commissions and referral fees generated by these prime customers and their employers.

Now’s a good time, though, to stop mourning those days of easy seller/buyer money. Let’s take a fresh look at the opportunities in these new demographics for brokerages to gain relocation clients and cement long-term relationships through new and enhanced services.

Among the most overlooked relocation market segments is the relocation renter, yet it is no small niche! Worldwide ERC’s latest Transfer Volume and Cost Survey (published 2012) reported that WERC members moved over 108,000 renters in the prior year – 59 percent of all WERC corporate moves. As the new majority of corporate relocations, renters comprise a customer base too big to overlook. Their corporate employers are hungry for better renter-service solutions, and those real estate firms that can provide them are best positioned to gain other corporate customers as well.

The Expanding Relocating Renter Population

Some of the factors affecting the increased proportion of corporate renters are obvious, but others are more subtle and useful. During our recent times of slow home sales, suppressed home values and limited mortgage availability, many homeowner transferees have been unwilling or unable to sell their homes, opting instead to retain them indefinitely and to rent rather than buy at their new destinations. Also, younger transferees who would in the past have seen their relocations as a chance to jump into homeownership have lately been reluctant to do so, with credit tightness, job insecurity and diminished investment return in glutted markets all affecting their decisions.

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