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Employee relocation has always posed unique challenges for real estate professionals and mortgage lenders alike. Add the special needs of employers and employees, and we have the recipe for a complex sale with a myriad of details. For non-relocating employees, understanding and taking best advantage of their mortgage benefits can be just as daunting. So what can a real estate professional do to navigate through these challenges and take best advantage of the opportunity that employees (whether relocating or not) represent?

A critical key is working with a mortgage lender experienced with the complexity of this transaction and that has a track record of success in every economic environment and geographic market. Citi, for example, has been a leader in developing the mortgage programs that have made corporate moves go more smoothly for nearly 30 years.

We’ve developed not only one of the most tenured teams in our business but also one of the most knowledgeable. That experience has helped us build a lending relationship model that serves the best interests of everyone and helps corporations provide relocation and mortgage benefits with confidence. Here are just three of the major elements of our model:

• Mortgage Pre-approval: Today, nothing says you have a serious buyer on your hands more than a pre-approved financing commitment. In fact, many home sellers—and for that matter real estate agents—prefer not to work with a buyer who hasn’t obtained pre-approval. At Citi, we call it SureStart®. And now more than ever, that name says it all.

• Employee Counseling: Relocation is a big step for any employee and there are dozens of decisions to make. The best programs offer guidance on how to make those decisions, starting with helping employees better understand the mortgage benefit offered by their employers and then helping them decide which financing option works best.

• For Employers: The program should, quite simply, make obtaining mortgage financing the easiest part of the move. We tailor programs for individual corporations based on their employee mortgage needs (whether relocating or not). For example, companies that often relocate employees to high-cost-of-living areas would benefit from a mortgage subsidy program. Companies that perform group moves often need special employee counseling and communications programs. And to handle relocating and non-relocating mortgage administration, custom billing and reporting relieves the burden on internal staff.

The best employee relocation and mortgage benefit models focus on cost containment, process improvement, employee education and above all, better communication among the employer, employee, real estate professional and mortgage lender. The economy may still be a challenge, but mortgage financing doesn’t have to be.

Wendy Morrell is SVP, national sales director, Relationship Retail for CitiMortgage, Inc. For more information, please visit