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Get Ready to Meet International Service Needs

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By Peg Guinta, CRP, GMS

international_service_needsWhere will your next corporate customer or foreign national purchaser hail from? Whether it’s Brazil, China or Belgium, it’s apparent that international activity is increasing, based on global mobility trends and home sale statistics. Are you ready for this potential new business activity?

Corporate international relocation activity continues to increase both into and out of the U.S. The Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC) reports that 49 percent of its corporate employer members expect relocations across borders to increase “somewhat” or “significantly,” (Mobility magazine, August 2013).

According to Mobilizing Talent: The Global Mobility Challenge Survey, a research report conducted by Ipsos Global Public Affairs and Canadian Employee Relocation Council, the United States is a top destination country for relocation (followed by the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada) and draws the highest relocation interest from employees in LATAM (Latin America), Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Non corporate-sponsored interest in the U.S. is active, too. The National Association of REALTORS®’ 2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity states that over 6 percent – or 68 billion dollars – of existing home-sale purchases are made by non-resident and resident foreigners combined. NAR research says that foreign purchasers typically originate from China, Canada, India and Mexico, and favor single-family homes primarily in California, Arizona, Florida and New York. Find your state’s specific economic and international real estate information at “State-by-State international Business Reports” on REALTOR.org.

You’re likely aware of the local clients who bring international assignees into your market and may already provide services opportunistically. You may even be actively pursuing business with these clients, but if not, don’t miss this high potential growth area.

If you can assess local companies’ U.S. inbound hiring trends, (i.e., volume levels, move types, geographic patterns) you might hone in on specific cultural and service needs in order to align and develop your own offerings. For example, a single, early-career new hire on a short-term assignment from India will have differing destination service needs compared to a Swiss senior executive with extended family on a long-term assignment. Each assignee and family will arrive with diverse cultural challenges, too.

Inbound International Policy Assistance
Companies with international mobility activity will typically have defined assistance policies for global assignees. Often, companies may use different assistance plans for differing move types depending on assignment length and purpose. Almost all companies provide some level of Destination Services to inbound foreign nationals. Home finding is a key component of destination services and options range from rental assistance, temporary housing accommodations and, potentially, home purchase for permanent residency assignments. Many companies also offer orientation and settling-in support, which generally involves community familiarization tours, but may include assistance with licensing/accreditations; establishing banking and other professional relationships; children’s educational requirements; and specialized eldercare needs.

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