Relocation services meet housing needs

Relocating employees can take the wind out of the sails of even the most progressive company.

In the area’s tight housing market, corporate relocation services can help. “Brain drain,” after all, should refer to recruiting professionals from around the country, not the disposition of a newly relocated staff.

Corporate relocati on companies range from divisions in full-service real estate agencies to independent, owner-operated companies. Their services span the spectrum. Whether newcomers need help finding a rental unit or a tour of the city, there is a Boulder County company to facilitate most relocation needs.

Traditional relocation services are offered by several real estate agencies and are usually free to the client. These agencies make their money on property sales.

“Our relocation services are offered free of charge,” explains Marilyn Dalton, director of relocation services at Wright-Kingdom Realty in Boulder. “I go out and actively call on companies. My presentations to (relocating) employees can last from 15 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on what their company’s needs are.”

Along with home-finding assistance, Wright-Kingdom offers fully furnished apartments of all kinds, area tours, employment assistance for spouses, a buddy system with other new families, pen-pals for relocating children, and discounts with local vendors.

All this may be more than some professionals need. In fact, the demographics of relocating employees can point to a different approach to relocation. For instance, consider that a recent college graduate or a young professional couple may just need a hand finding a rental and getting to know an area before purchasing a home.

Like the full-service real estate agencies, independent relocation services have sprung up to meet the demands of a growing county business base.

Kate Yates, owner of Corporate Rental Connections, discovered the value of word-of-mouth networking during her own frustrating relocation from Houston to Boulder in 1991.

“I kept flying to town and flying to town, but I just could not find an apartment,´ said Yates. “I was looking in the newspaper and running around. But she (the previous owner of Corporate Rental Connections) found me an apartment in an hour and a half.”

In 1993 Yates bought the business to operate out of her home. She has been pleasantly surprised that she’s never had to invest great amounts of her revenue back into advertising.

“What I really bought from the original owner were her contacts — her database,” Yates explained. “Now people call me. Winter is the slow season. In the summer, though, I work around the clock and have to hire people to help find homes.”

When a prospective client calls Yates, she discusses the client’s desires and preferences. “I listen to their needs,” Yates said. “If they want a lovely little Victorian house on Mapleton Hill for $1,000, I can’t help them.”

More often than not, Yates can accommodate her clients. For a $500 up-front f ee plus the balance of one half of one month’s rent, Yates screens homes according to her clients’ specifications. Most of the properties she deals with are not listed in the newspaper. Yates’ database includes professors and attorneys who go on sabbatical as well as other property owners.

“If the clients are the kind of people who can just make up their minds, they can take care of this in a half a day,” Yates said. “I can pick them up at the office and get them back to work that same day. And they don’t even realize the apartment-hunting horror they’ve missed.”

Another relocation service option is the short-term rental, which is best suited for employees who need only interim housing. Hotel rooms may be scarce and costly, not to mention impersonal.

Donna Hockstra, director of operations at Corporate Housing by Jerdon in Boulder, has a better idea.

“We rent regular apartments and homes with everything in them,” Hockstra said. “These aren’t typical institutional-looking efficiencies. We put in personal touches — everything from colored towels to decorative pictures on the wall, and even toothbrushes.”

A typical one-bedroom apartment through Hockstra’s service runs approximately $1,600 per month, or $55 a day, which includes utilities and often other amenities such as cable television. Two-bedroom units run $1,995 to $2,700, or $78.25 a day, and three-bedroom units run $2,700 to $3,100, or about $96 a day.

“Many of our clients are on 30- to 60-day leases,´ said Hockstra. “We make them comfortable while they acclimatize. They can look around the area and figure out where they want to live permanently.”

Incorporated last summer, Corporate Housing by Jerdon has earned a good reputation in the corporate community.

Lynn Jordan, senior administrative manager at Call Connect in Boulder, finds the service invaluable.

“They (Jerdon) took care of everything,” she says. “They even put in an additional phone line in one place for us. And the furniture is not hotel furniture — it’s all very upper end. I will never go back to doing this any other way.”