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When transferees prepare their homes for sale, it often includes activities such as removal of excess furnishings and priming of interior spaces. Professional discard/donate and staging firms support many corporate mobility objectives, including positive transferee experiences and cost containment of program services. Both are excellent professional partnership resources worthy of case-by-case or policy inclusion consideration by clients. This month’s column features examples of each, and how they support the corporate mobility process.

Discard/Donate Services
These companies facilitate the evaluation and elimination of items before the seller moves to reduce packing and transportation costs.

A growing number of corporate relocation programs offer discard/donate services to relocating employees, but it’s a wonder they’re not more popular considering they reduce the weight and cost of household goods shipments, which are typically paid by employers.

Relocation Remedies is one such discard/donate firm operating nationwide. Daniel O’Neill, director of Operations, says, “Cost savings vary depending on family size and the type of relocation (i.e., domestic or international, permanent or temporary, homeowner or renter, etc.), but we strive to eliminate between 10 – 20 percent of the household goods shipment size.”

Relocation Remedies’ fees are based on the weight of goods removed and are typically far lower than the van lines’ shipping rates, so clients benefit from cost savings by removing instead of shipping goods. “There’s always savings,” O’Neill explains. “On an average domestic corporate household goods shipment, our clients can expect a savings of approximately $650 to $1,300 per shipment, and much more on international shipments.” Companies may realize significant annual savings when considering the aggregate population eligible for van lines shipment.

This service enhances the transferee experience, too. “Besides being cost-effective, transferees are spared trying to find trucks, the labor and time to make runs to charities, recycling centers or junk yards, typically the last thing on their minds,” says O’Neill, adding “…families are thrilled to have help purging items that have moved several times previously and are no longer needed.”

After the evaluation process, the company arranges for the removal of unwanted items and facilitates the return of a tax receipt for donated items. Environmental benefits result because less packing materials are needed and fuel consumption is reduced. Another advantage if conducted prior to home marketing: freed-up interior space may improve showings.

Relocation Remedies works primarily with RMCs and corporate clients, but O’Neill sees value in developing working relationships with other partners, such as relocation departments and move management firms. “These services could be included in corporate relocation policies as support for home sale or household goods transportation,” he says. Relocation Remedies also provides services direct to consumers, offering savings whether household goods transportation is paid for by corporate employers or homeowners.

Staging Services
Staging is a better-known service; its goal is to enhance property features and enable prospects to envision themselves “in situ,” to maximize home salability and reduce market time.

Although some staging firms offer clutter reduction services, A Fresh Eye, LLC, located in Connecticut, specializes in “room transformations” (decorating) and staging services. “Room transformations use the family’s furniture, colors and styles, focusing on creating rooms that function best for them,” says owner Kathy Engstrom. “Staging, on the other hand, showcases the house itself and its features in a way that helps the buyer visualize their own family living in the home.

“Staging a home presents it in the best possible light to appeal to the largest number of buyers and to differentiate it from others on the market,” Engstrom says. “A Fresh Eye can stage with homeowners’ existing furnishings, but most times, I have to pare down the amount of furniture and accessories and have the homeowner dispose of, donate or store still-wanted items offsite.” A Fresh Eye and other staging firms can also bring in furnishings to create a staged setting for a vacant home.

A Fresh Eye provides consultation services and a comprehensive written recommendations report that includes cosmetic improvements and repair suggestions. Sellers complete the improvements themselves, but the actual staging is managed by the design firm. While staging may not be necessary for every listing, sellers could benefit from completing repairs and improvements suggested in the recommendations report often provided by these professionals. Many staging firms accommodate a variety of budgets through hourly-based fees and room-by-room charges. “Sometimes agents have offered to pay for the initial staging consultation,” adds Engstrom.

Corporate policies don’t typically cover home marketing preparation assistance, but do often provide relocation allowances, intended for discretionary, miscellaneous move-related items. For some transferees, it can make sense to use a portion of the relocation allowance for home sale preparation purposes.

Staging can be a cost-effective component of many marketing strategies. “I certainly see the value of developing relationships with relocation departments because the goal of both corporate clients and real estate professionals is to sell the transferees’ home quickly and at the best possible price,” says Engstrom.

Both services deserve strong consideration as client recommendations because they offer winning solutions in high-stakes relocation program areas, making them a naturally good fit for your clients.

Resources for national directories of staging professionals include www.stagedhomes.com, www.realestatestagingassociation.com, and www.HomeStagingResource.com. See the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) 2015 Profile of Home Staging for additional information.

Peg Guinta, CRP, GMS, is projects director for RIS Consulting Group. For questions, email peg@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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