Relocate to Seattle with the Realtor® of your choice!
When you relocate to Seattle, you want to choose your real estate agent. But what if someone else picked that agent for you? What if it looked as if you had no say in the matter? Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
From initial excitement to reality
The prospect of a new job in another city and perhaps another country can be exciting. The immediate reaction is to look for information about the new town on the web. Often, it is the significant other who does the scouting. The excitement is about the prospect of a whole new life in a new place - questions about neighborhoods, housing, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment top the list. When there are children, education is another priority concern.
A sense of anticipation: We are relocating to Seattle!
The move may be months away, but relatives and friends already receive pictures of distant homes for sale. “We are relocating to Seattle! Look where we could be living!” Often, the home search results in emails from several real estate agents. “We will relocate to Seattle. Can you send us some more information on this home?”
The Reality: the transferee’s relocation is being outsourced.
Elsewhere, in the world of corporate relocation, company policy and relocation procedures determine what happens next. The employee relocation is “outsourced” to a relocation management company, and that company handles all aspects of relocation, including the cost.
Relocation is expensive, and the costs need to be managed.
Controlling the cost means controlling you, the new employee, or the transferee. Relocation management companies manage these costs on behalf of their corporate clients. The sooner the transferee can become a productive employee, the better.
Thus, many relocation management companies like Cartus hire destination consultants that ensure the smoothest possible “settling in” of the transferee. When dealing with international relocations, a destination consultant assists with visa and social security issues.
I have worked as a destination consultant and know all this from first-hand experience. If you consider relocating to Seattle, I provide these services as an integral part of my business.
Reducing the cost of relocation by turning an expense into income
Suppose the relocation involves purchasing or selling a home. In that case, some of the relocation costs are “shifted” from the relocation management and their corporate client to the real estate experts, such as real estate brokers and mortgage providers.
Here is how it works. The relocation management company works with a limited number of real estate brokerages who assign agents to work with the transferee. The agent pays a referral fee – up to 45% of the real estate commission – to the relocation management company for that privilege. If the transferee sells and buys, this happens twice.
Controlling the process
In the case of Cartus, the preferred brokers include Sotheby’s, CENTURY 21®, and Coldwell Banker® – all owned by Realogy, the parent company of Cartus.
Realogy also owns real estate title companies in 48 States through its Title Resource Group (TRG). This relationship complements the ownership of the real estate brokerages and gives Cartus complete control over the entire relocation process.
The Internet has empowered the individual.
Back to the beginning: the transferring employee and any significant other are intelligent, internet-savvy individuals. They would like to pick the real estate agent, and they do not understand why the company wants to control that choice.
They are happy to have found an agent who speaks their language and knows the difference between living in Munich and Seattle because the agent has lived there. They also want to choose the mortgage lender since a substantial financial transaction like a home purchase requires a great degree of personal trust.
Neither the purchase of a home nor the financing should be treated as a commodity.
The transferee is given the impression that there is no choice.
Many newly hired and transferees don’t know that they are free to choose an agent. The relocation process is not as transparent as it should be. Most relocation management agreements ostensibly obligate the transferee to use only assigned brokerages and lenders. Some insinuate that not doing so would result in the loss of other benefits offered as part of the relocation package.
What is at stake is the percentage of the commission the assigned real estate agents are “kicking back” to the relocation management company. Depending on the price of the home, this could be anywhere between $5,000 and $50,000.
Why not get the best service and save money in the process?
Why should you have to work with an assigned real estate agent? Why not work with an agent of your choice? The latter will not only result in better service but can save you money.
Why should you facilitate the flow of real estate commission money to the relocation management company? Why not negotiate the terms with an agent of your choosing? Your agent may be willing to contribute to the closing cost, for example.
Relocating to Seattle should not be a passive experience. The best relocation practice takes advantage of valuable relocation company services while respecting the transferee’s right and desire for personal service.
If you or a friend is planning to relocate to Seattle and you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to contact me.
I updated this post which I originally
published on July 23rd, 2008