Masterclass: How Top Brokerages are Focused on Increasing Relocation Business in 2023

With a record 25% of Redfin users looking to move to a different metro area last quarter, relocation is one of the fastest-growing segments of the homebuying market in 2023.

The causes for this trend are complex — high home prices in key metros, work-from-home expansion, and economic uncertainty — but the net impact on the industry is clear. In 2023, brokerages need to be as well-equipped to support clients moving long distances as they are for moves down the street.

In this Masterclass, relocation-focused leaders from Delta Media Group, The Keyes Company, and Sotheby’s International discussed what makes relocation different, what tools and services they rely on to support their growing number of relocating clients, and how they view the booming relocation segment as part of their overall growth strategy.

💡 Key takeaways:

  • As a result of the pandemic’s shift to remote culture, millions of Americans are considering relocating since they’ve started telecommuting.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach to relocation — whether it’s for corporate relocation or lifestyle changes, you need to uncover what buyers truly value and tailor your services accordingly.
  • Tools, such as neighborhood insights, that provide context on a location without having to be physically present will help you adapt to lifestyle-focused property searches and position yourself as a local expert to grow your relocation segment.
  • Rentals in real estate are no longer a novelty — they are a viable alternative to buying, especially for people who move to a new city and want to know if a neighborhood suits their needs.

Watch our latest Masterclass on How Top Brokerages are Focused on Increasing Relocation Business in 2023:

Why is relocation a focus area in 2023?

A shift to remote culture led to a renewed focus on relocation

With the pandemic came a shift in the corporate environment as more workers embraced remote culture, enabling them to work from anywhere. Over 18.9 million Americans are considering moving and relocating now that they have started telecommuting.

In today’s age of job portability, businesses must adapt in order to stay competitive, as workers can relocate and live wherever they want, without having to report to a physical office.

People are also moving to the suburbs, where their budgets allow, but are still looking for homes with similar property and neighborhood characteristics. Relocation opens up new opportunities for real estate agents to guide home seekers in their search for their next place.

What makes relocating homebuyers’ needs unique?

People are moving to accommodate lifestyle changes

Homebuyers’ needs today are different from what they were looking for three years ago.

You have to think beyond corporate relocation. People are now finally given the opportunity to make lifestyle changes that they’ve always wanted to do. Their desire to move to a new city is largely driven by these lifestyle changes.

For brokers, this means adapting the way you angle your offer. It’s no longer relevant to focus solely on corporate relocations — learn about your client’s lifestyle preferences. The search for a home today goes beyond finding a property. Home seekers want to find a home that fits their lifestyle.

A tailored approach is necessary to uncover homebuyers’ unique needs

Ultimately, people’s desire to move is rooted in their own personal decisions, regardless of whether they are relocating for work or changing their lifestyle. Every person has their own set of unique reasons for moving to a new place — there is no one-size-fits-all approach to relocation. Realtors must find out what the buyer values, what the purpose of their move is, and tailor their services accordingly.

Understanding what homebuyers are truly looking for

Homebuyers are not looking for a specific neighborhoodthey are looking for a neighborhood with a specific set of characteristics. They might not realize it, but they are searching for a neighborhood that checks all of their boxes. There may be other similar areas that meet those same requirements that they are unaware of.

Relocation allows realtors to cast a wider net when helping clients find the perfect home for them. By understanding their motivations, you can suggest other neighborhoods that might meet their needs and that they might’ve not considered. 

If your clients say something, don’t just take it at face value — dig a little deeper to find out what it is that they’re seeking. In order to serve as a client’s key point of contact, it is up to the agent to understand and uncover what the client really wants. Even if they are just shopping around, you should still be the one who provides them with that information, so that when they decide to move, you are at the top of their minds.

People who ask about relocation are likely to be already anxious about it. As soon as you position yourself as an expert and provide the statistics and information they’re looking for, or at least point them in the right direction, you will have a better chance of winning their business.

What tools and services should you use to support relocation?

Neighborhood insights with context

According to Rob Love (Director of Marketing Technology at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada), most homeseekers have already done their own research by the time they reach out to an agent — but they need the neighborhood context

There’s a reason why people don’t want to be overloaded with information. They’re looking for something specific, and it’s up to you to figure out what that is. You have to listen and ask the right questions. What kind of research have they done? What have they looked at thus far? Once you’ve figured out that, you need to add context to show that you understand the market where they are moving to.

People traditionally consider the following factors when searching for their next home: rates, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, climate, demographics, and neighborhood safety.

However, people are increasingly focusing their property searches around lifestyle amenities, such as dog parks and coffee shops. People look for information beyond the four walls differently. They look at places they want to live differently. These new search behaviors require new, adaptable solutions.

In order to support clients moving to a new city and understand what is available in that area, agents need access to tools that let them showcase the neighborhood without having to physically be there. Localized insights, such as those offered by Local Logic, support this new lifestyle-focused way of searching for homes.

Find gaps and fill them with content that speaks to buyers

Brokerages need to rethink the type of information they provide to clients.

According to Mike Minard (CEO at Delta Media Group), you can identify gaps in your content by searching for “relocation to” + one of your big cities, and seeing if you appear on the first five pages of the search results.

Imagine putting yourself in the shoes of someone relocating to that market, considering how they can telecommute these days. What makes someone want to come there? What are they looking for? Your website needs to reflect that in its data and content. That is how you capture search intent.

As you go through that exercise, you’ll find things that you’re not speaking to, and you can create content that addresses those gaps. Blog posts about communities, for example, are now more important than they were five years ago.

Active listening creates customers for life

One of the most powerful tools an agent can use is their ability to empathize with a client.

Denise Talboy (Vice President, Relocation & Corporate Services at The Keyes Company) emphasizes the importance of building good relationships based on active listening. Agents must understand and anticipate their clients’ needs. When relocating, people want to feel taken care of. They want someone on their side, advocating for them.

Keyes caters to their international pool of transferees by matching the right realtor with their clients. The company ensures that realtors have extensive local knowledge, all the right connections, and relevant past experience in helping those relocating to a new neighborhood settle in as quickly as possible.

As a relocating agent, your job doesn’t end when your clients move in. You have to check in with them, recommend places (such as schools and nearby services), and suggest tradespeople — basically making sure they’re happy in their new home. A relocation specialist stands out by being able to assist people not only in finding the right place, but also in adjusting to their new surroundings.

Approximately 20-25% of clients return to the first realtor who helped them after a transaction. The best realtors stay in touch with their customers post-transaction, not just to close another deal, but also to build relationships and ensure their clients adapt to the new area. If you set your client up for success, you will have a customer for life.

Are current relocation trends set to become the new normal?

Larger emphasis on rental opportunities

A shift toward the rental market has been underway for some time now.

The concept of renting is no longer a novelty in real estate as it once was. It’s no longer just for students. Renting has become an integral, verified part of the transition process for relocating clients. It’s now a much more open and valid alternative to buying. Rental prices are at par with mortgage payments today — and it wasn’t the case 5-6 years ago.

You still need a local, experienced realtor with solid connections to guide these renters toward their new home, or new neighborhood, just as if they were buying a home. It doesn’t matter if you buy or rent, you still want to pay attention to the location of the property. 

Transferees are increasingly renting first to learn about the area and decide if it’s right for them. With that in mind, more firms are offering rental services and search, targeting relocating people.

However, the demand for rentals in certain markets, such as Florida, is high, but there is still a lack of available rentals. While many rentals can be found on the MLSs, other rentals are not on there, which can make relocation difficult.

That’s why it’s so important to become a local expert. Certain sites have one type of data, some have others. And because there isn’t one site that really has the full rental listing, people have to go back to their realtor for assistance.

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Thao Tram Ngo

April 27, 2023 | 9 minutes read