When I started my career as a Destination Service Provider more than 7 years ago, working with several different global mobility or local relocation companie, the destination services assignments I received to assist expats or domestic transferees were generally 3-5 days of support (a combination of pre-assignment communication and research, home-finding, settling-in, and frequently school research). These status-quo assignments existed up until a few years ago when the housing market began to change. Whereas previously, a home search tour in any popular neighborhood or city of the San Francisco Bay Area would yield enough viewings for 2-3 days, it became increasinlgy challenging to create a viewing itinerary for even 2 days of viewings.
Transferees also became more aware of property portals such as Craig’s List, Zillow, and Trulia, for example, as useful tools to research the local rental market prior to their arrival, empowering them to feel part of the search process. But today, housing supply in many popular Bay Area cities – especially in San Francisco proper – remains challenging for expatriates, and increasingly they are responsible for paying their own rent, rather than receiving a housing allowance.
From the perspective of the transferee, the look and feel of the home search assistance has changed very little – the role and value of the local area expert in preparing a focused and relevant home search remains essential. But due to the high demand for housing, and the lessening supply, 1-day home searches are now far more common, reflecting the reality of real estate markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The relocation companies I worked with tried to implement technology solutions to support the relocation process, but not every transferee wants to log-in to a technology platform to take an active part in planning their home search. They are heavily preoccupied with their new job assignment and the duties of their new position, and concerned about the stress on the rest of their family while they go off to work.
We at About Your Relocation provide concierge services because we are about people helping people to find a home in a new location, and networking them and their family with activities that will enable them to become settled and successful in their new community as quickly as possible.
Technology alone – no matter how efficient – is no substitute for the experienced professional who can empathise with a relocating family, offer expert advice in the appropriate context, and provide creative options to their relocation needs.