This should be a really happy and exciting time. To experience a new location and create wonderful memories. But alas, I wouldn’t be offering up good advice if it was always pretty unicorns sliding down rainbows.
Have you ever experienced or at least heard stories about a moving company shake-down? I have heard of many, and it can be bloody stressful.
Trucking companies are often part of relocation company logistics. A driver will show up at your doorstep, usually very late. Once loading your furniture onto the truck, the lead driver will provide the invoice for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more than the original quote.
At this point, you have a tough decision to make. Do you pay the exorbitant price? If not, the driver will often begin to unload the truck, only for you to fall for the trap and pay. In sales, it is a tactic called taking the deal away.
If you decide not to accept, they will unload the truck onto the lawn. But if you think about it, how do you find another truck before the new property owners show up ready to move in.
Can you say “up sh*t creek without a paddle?
Look up “Relocation Company Horror Stories,” and you will get 6.5 million stories.
Thank goodness this doesn’t always happen, but there is one thing you ought to avoid. If not, it could cost you a lot more than several hundred bucks.
SHOULD YOU BE CAUTIOUS OF A RELOCATION COMPANY?
Maybe you’ve opted for a complete lifestyle change, and you are swapping your primary home in the city for one in your dream location, with surfing, golf, or skiing ready for retirement.
Or perhaps you’ve been head-hunted by a company. Your new employer is footing the bill for a relocation company to help with all the moving logistics, including an agent to help locate a new home for you? Lucky you…AH NO! …. let’s stop right there.
If you’ve read many of my articles or the book I published called “Castle to Kingdom” – the definitive guide to buying lifestyle real estate. You would guess that it’s not all pretty butterflies on a bed of roses.
I do what I can to provide both points of view, the good and the not so good, to help buyers decide.
Despite what the relocation company may tell you, there are several potential pitfalls when working through agents referred to you by a relocation company. Unfortunately, there are no regulations to protect you from the stupidity of others, so due diligence is required here too!
Make sure you follow a few guidelines to avoid falling into a trap.
BOTTOM LINE: TO FIND YOUR HAPPINESS, IT MAY BE IN YOUR BEST INTERESTS NOT TO USE A RELOCATION COMPANY TO FIND A BUYER’S AGENT.
Very few businesses can supply both ends of the food chain. A relocation company can be beneficial in coordinating a move. That’s the main service they get paid for, coordination and logistics. You ought to stop there.
However, many of these companies get their fingers into many other parts of the pie, including commission splits, and rebates, etc. For you to use a relocation company in the hope of locating an agent in a new area for purchasing a home is probably one of the worst decisions you could make and one I will discuss today.
Relocation companies provide options that help you pay no closing costs on purchasing your home, which is part of the equation, along with chosen agents giving up a large portion of their commission to the relocation company.
OK, for the relocation company, it’s business, but it puts you in a position of potentially working with a sub-par agent without a choice. Why? Read on…
RELOCATION HORROR STORIES
Let me preface this part of the article with the following: A lot of service related industries there are horror stories, including real estate, which is why we provide the service we do.
I’ve discovered first hand, and heard multiple horror stories about relocation companies. Just conduct an online search for ‘relocation horror stories’, and choose from any of the hundreds of thousands of results. Everything from family cats boxed-up for Trans-Pacific travel to a relocation-company-selected buyer agent having clients buy homes that have zoning issues and worse.
A word to the wise: when people relocate from one state to another, the relocation company will refer the moving client to an agent in their system’s roster for the approximate area they are moving to. The professional relocation company can take anywhere from 40 – 50% of the buyer’s agent commission.
From my experience, the typical relocation company does not do any background checks on the agent to protect you from potential risks. As long as the agent has a valid license and states they are in “good standing,” that is good enough.
Anyone can join the relocation company agent roster. So long as the relocation company has confirmation in writing from you and your principal broker that they will receive a hefty split of the sale, that is good enough for them.
The relocation company wants to cover their interests here, so the agent they assign you may be completely inadequate. Very few agents sign up for this process, primarily because it does not provide a good “time versus income” ratio. The relocation company is happy as long as their documentation covering the referral split is complete; they can pass the buck.
The main concern is that you will undoubtedly end up with an average, subpar, part-time, or weekend warrior agent, potentially costing you endless time, money, and unneeded stress.
WHY TOP REAL ESTATE ADVISORS AVOID RELOCATION COMPANIES
***This is a brush strokes review of a basic net commission breakdown.
Average U.S. Home Price: $300,000
Agents commission of Purchase 3% – $9,000
Minus Relocation Company split of 50% – $4,500
Sub Total: $4,500
Minus Real Estate Brokerage Split 70/30 – $1,350
Sub Total: $3,150
Minus Taxes Roughly 40% – $1,260
Agent Receives: $1,890
So, for a sale of $300,000, the buyer’s agent will make less than $2,000, out of which they need to cover living expenses (such as food, mortgage, gas, electricity, kids, clothing). In addition, there are business expenses, such as marketing, advertising, fees, gas, phone, staff, clothes, mechanical, insurance etc.
Caveat: In lifestyle locations, the average home price is often two or three times the price in this example, but so are the expense of everyday life and expenses. Then you have an average of 1 agent per 5.6 residents fighting for your business in a small lifestyle market.
And what about all the hours of research, drive time, and showings spent locating a home with no guarantee of a purchase? Again, this is why it is essential to use an advisor’s services in the top 4% of their market.
Real Estate referrals are a standard business practice, but with the excessive commission split required by relocation companies, why would you expect to find ANY quality buyer’s agent? It simply doesn’t make good business sense for them to do so.
A ‘transactional’ or type of agent may justify it, or an agent starting in the business and wanting to find new clients might find some value.
Caveat; unless the agent lucks out with a high-end luxury buyer, these buyers have better avenues for highly-vetted experts like our tailored services at Kealink.com.
But I keep coming back to the fact that lifestyle real estate is a different animal because it is very dynamic, segmented, and time-consuming.
Avoid getting backed into a corner where you are forced to use an agent through a relocation firm. Do your due diligence first. And, don’t fall for the “we will pay for your closing costs” routine.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON RELOCATION COMPANIES
Put simply, you have MUCH better options than going through an agent provided by a relocation company. So always read the fine print with your relocation company and make sure you are not bound to them other than the logistics of the move, or you may be putting more on the line a few dollars. Lastly: Use the services of an expert real estate advisor TAILORED TO YOUR INTERESTS in the lifestyle market you are moving into.
Andrew Storms is a 16-year expert in Lifestyle Real Estate. After 8 years with the #1 Engel & Volkers office in the world, he now resides in South Florida with Engel & Volkers Delray Beach. Andrew is the Founder of Kealink.com, author of “Castle to Kingdom” and has been featured on HGTV, USA Today, Wealth TV, and House Hunters International.