The new way to relocate
Thu 31 Jul 2014
Its summertime, which means London is welcoming hordes of high-net-worth families in time for the new school year in September. Relocation agents are working overtime during this changeover to help the outgoing crew move our and the arrivistes blend in. As trends in the relocation business morph and corporations cut back on generous relocation packages, estate and lettings agencies are grabbing a bigger slice of the relocation pie (while continuing to do business with the old relocation agents). Marsh & Parsons is one of the myriad London agencies that now have corporate and relocations wing. The department works with a number of businesses of varying sizes, providing a comprehensive and entirely complimentary home search and relocation service for companies relocating staff to London. Generally, they team up with human resources and global mobility departments to provide a more seamless experience. Increasingly, expatriates are not receiving a traditional relocation package, whereby they get support from a designated relocation agent, says Simon Wood, Marsh & Parsons associate director and head of corporate. Instead they are given a lump sum allowance and make their own choices about providers. In the last year we have seen a 22 per cent increase in new enquiries and a 12 per cent increase in corporate tenancies from expatriates not using a relocation agent. Support for a move can range from anything from international removals through to financial services and education consultancy, mainly through preferred contractors. Lisa Simon, head of residential lettings at Carter Jonas, agrees that these days, no one can take generous relocation packages for granted, and some employees who previously would have been catered for are left to fend for themselves Carter Jonas offers a ring round to other agencies, a free service to the applicant. If the moneys there, of course, they can do anything from finding schools and airport collection to parking permits, utility accounts, negotiating the terms of the lease as well as booking short term accommodation and negotiating the end of the tenancy, and offering area tours and welcome packs including basic supermarket provisions. The lifestyle concierge company Quintessentially Home offers what is arguably the Rolls-Royce of relocation packages, from advice on cultural adjustments to buying school uniforms. We project manage the entire process, says Quintessentiallys Sarah OHagan, including sourcing your property, arranging the move, getting visas, organising the hiring of staff and overseeing the unpacking. The most recent figures show that 77 per cent of W.A Ellis tenants cine from outside the UK, and the prime London estate agents reports that companies now only tend to offer their employees relocation agency services if they are moving a family, and restrict the service to houses that cost over 2,000 per week. The lettings market is sporadic, with supply outweighing demand in various areas of the market, according to W.A. Ellis senior partner and head of lettings, Lucy Morton. In the sub 2,000-a-week market, families are less entitled: companies tend to provide tenants with a housing allowance and the tenant has to source the property through a letting agent. Though she adds that there has been increased activity in the sub 1,000 a week, one and two-bedroom price range. So anyone still looking at this time of year neednt panic: family lets are on the up. We have seen a 13 per cent increase in family home lettings since January 2014, she says.