Wed. May 25th, 2022
what-is-a-relocation-specialist?-what-they-do-and-don’t-do

Maybe your job is relocating you to a new city. Or maybe you’re planning a retirement move. Or maybe you’re in the military and are receiving a permanent change of station (PCS). Or maybe you just need help figuring out where to live on your next adventure.

Regardless of the reason, relocation is a big decision. But in each of these cases, a relocation specialist can help. With extra training and a deep knowledge of the area, a real estate agent who specializes in relocation can help ease your mind and reduce the stress that comes with picking up your life — and all of your belongings — and starting over in a new city, a new state, or a new country.

Kirsten Conover, a top agent in Atlanta, Georgia, has been a relocation specialist since 2007. She takes pride in using her training and experience to help expedite and smooth out the relocation process, and says her relocation clients are a joy to work with.

So what does it take to be a relocation specialist? And how can they facilitate the relocation process? Let’s find out!

One thing that’s different about relocation is that you’re obligated to provide regular reports back to the relocation company about how things are going and what stage they’re in.

  • Kirsten Conover
    Kirsten Conover
    Real Estate Agent


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    Kirsten Conover
    Kirsten Conover
    Real Estate Agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

    Currently accepting new clients

    • Years of Experience
      17
    • Transactions
      496
    • Average Price Point
      $449k
    • Single Family Homes
      302

What is a real estate relocation specialist?

First things first, a real estate relocation specialist is an experienced agent who has undergone additional training to earn a Certified Relocation Professional (CRP®) designation or a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification.

A CRP® typically works with employees who are being relocated by their company while a MRP works with members of the military who are moving to a new station. A relocation specialist can work with both buyers and sellers, helping buyers find the right place in a new city and helping sellers sell their homes quickly.

A relocation specialist is held to a high standard and must complete the initial training as well as additional training each year. They also have to be excellent organizers and communicators.

“One thing that’s different about relocation is that you’re obligated to provide regular reports back to the relocation company about how things are going and what stage they’re in,” Conover explains.

The listing agent is also responsible for providing a Broker Market Analysis (BMA) which is even more detailed than the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) typically prepared by the listing agent to help price the home appropriately. Conover says that the BMA is “almost as detailed as an actual appraisal would be…we have to visit homes that are similar to theirs and give a breakdown so that we can come up with a very, very good idea of what it will sell for.”

Pricing the home right helps it sell quickly, so the client can adhere to their relocation timeline.

Often, a relocation specialist will be affiliated with a third-party relocation company hired by the employer to assist with the employee’s relocation. These companies will typically offer assistance with a mortgage, moving, storage, temporary housing, home sale services, cost tracking, finding a new school, place of worship, community amenities, and help walk their clients through the employer’s relocation policies.

While relocation specialists are typically hired by a company or the military, individuals can also choose to work with a real estate relocation specialist. In this case, Conover notes that the client will “benefit from the additional experience and education I have as a corporate relocation person, but I’m helping them as a regular buyer [or seller].”

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How does an agent become a relocation specialist?

There are two main certifications that would designate a real estate agent as a relocation specialist. Here’s a look at each one.

Certified Relocation Professional or CRP®

To become a CRP®, an agent typically needs one to three years of experience helping clients with relocation and must complete CRP® training through the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (ERC®). Then they must pass the exam that covers the entire relocation industry, from policy development to U.S. tax and legal compliance issues to relocation appraising.

To go a step further, an agent can be designated a Senior Certified Relocation Professional (SCRP) if they’ve earned the Distinguished Service Award which is awarded after they’ve earned 25 service points through Worldwide ERC®. 

Military Relocation Professional (MRP)

To earn their MRP certification, Realtors® must be a member in good standing with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). They can take a one-day course either online or in a classroom as well as complete two one-hour webinars and demonstrate their knowledge on an exam.

During this course, agents gain knowledge of VA financing, the procedures of a military relocation, how to help military members sell their home or find a new home to purchase, and other things necessary to help make a military move go as smoothly as possible.

Conover works with military members and their families and says that, because it’s a government move, “there is more red tape to go through than your normal transaction,” so having a relocation specialist can help work through all of it.

What services can a relocation specialist provide?

Relocations specialists provide a wide range of services. These might include:

  • Sell your home
  • Navigate the closing process
  • Reduce the time it takes to organize your move
  • Help navigate any documents and visas if it’s an international move
  • Refer you to a buyer’s agent in the new city
  • Give detailed information about the area you’re moving into
  • Help you locate and purchase a new home

While some relocation specialist real estate agents may provide some of the following services, many of the following would be performed by a third-party relocation company.

  • Assist with shipping pets, automobiles
  • Help connect you with service providers and amenities (schools, child care, etc.)
  • Arrange for tours and orientation in your new community
  • Help you coordinate packing and moving services

If a third-party company isn’t involved, the relocation specialist will likely have recommendations for people or companies who can perform these services.

What does a relocation specialist agent not do?

While a relocation specialist is there to assist you with nearly everything related to your move and help you get settled in a new area, there are a few things that they won’t do (and you shouldn’t ask):

  • Help find your spouse or partner a new job – While the relocation specialist may have knowledge they can share about local companies and who’s hiring, they are not responsible for assisting your spouse or partner find a job or set up interviews.
  • Watch your kids – Giving you information on local schools is in their job description, babysitting your kids (or your pets) is not.
  • Run your errands – Your relocation specialist is not your errand runner. Asking your relocation specialist to pick up your dry cleaning, grab a gallon of milk, or drop packages at the post office are all no-nos.
A house that might require a relocation specialist.
Source: (Roger Starnes Sr / Unsplash)

How is the process different when you work with a relocation specialist?

While the process of selling or buying a home is largely the same when working with a relocation specialist, they do provide added support and knowledge about the area.

Conover points out that this can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, and when the move is part of a job relocation, there may be additional stress on a spouse or partner and the family. Typically, a relocation is triggered by one person, so their partner may be looking for work, the kids will be switching schools or daycare, and they are coming into the situation with little to no knowledge of the city or area.

Conover explains that relocation specialists have “enhanced knowledge of neighborhoods because some of these people have never been to Atlanta before. So, to me, my responsibility is to make sure there is no stone left unturned as far as neighborhoods that might work for them.”

Does a relocation specialist cost more than a regular agent?

There is typically no additional cost to the client when working with a relocation specialist, and often, the majority of moving expenses are paid by the company or the military.

How can I find a reputable relocation real estate agent?

If you’re being relocated by your company, it’s likely that they’re working with a third-party relocation company who will have a roster of highly qualified agents that they can pair you with.

To make things easier when you get to the new area, the listing agent in the original city can refer you to a buyer’s agent in the new area who will walk you through the process of finding the best neighborhood, buying a home, choosing a school, and more.

If your move is not associated with a company, you can search “relocation specialists near me” on the internet, or better yet, use a reputable agent matching service.

Make moving easier with the help of a relocation specialist

Relocating, and possibly uprooting your family, can be a difficult and stressful time. But that’s why a relocation specialist is so important. Not only do they come to you with additional training and extra experience, they are also well versed in the emotions that come with a big relocation, especially when a family is involved.

“When somebody is getting relocated, it’s usually one person, and the spouse may not be on board. The kids may not be on board, so you have to be their emotional support,” Conover says. Because relocation specialists understand the stress level, Conover recalls, “I’ve had people snap at me and yell at me, but it’s like water off a duck’s back because I know that it’s just stress.” On the flip side, she says “they are some of my favorite clients, and many of them are friends now.”

Finding a great relocation specialist doesn’t have to be hard. HomeLight’s free Agent Match tool analyzes millions of home sales and our matching algorithm will match you with the top agents in your area to help streamline and simplify the process.

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Enter a few details about your home and we’ll provide you with a preliminary estimate of home value in less than two minutes. This won’t be a guarantee of what your home will sell for, but it is a helpful starting point.

Header Image Source: (New Africa / Shutterstock)

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