Wednesday 29 March 2017

Relocation is a job for the professionals

The prospect of finding rental accommodation in an overheated housing market is daunting - even more so if you're returning to Ireland or arriving for the first time to work. Vicki Notaro meets the experts who can help you hunt down the perfect home.

Consultant Barbara Carty says lots of people are moving back home to Ireland as the economy improves
Consultant Barbara Carty says lots of people are moving back home to Ireland as the economy improves
Vicki Notaro

Vicki Notaro

With over 1,400 people either returning to work in Ireland each week or moving here for the first time, according to recent CSO figures, the pressure on an already strained rental market is growing. Rents are soaring and those seeking leased accommodation are turning up at viewings to find a queue of people also interested in the property on offer.

Thanks to high rents and high levels of competition, it's become difficult for a native of the city to find the right place. Imagine then landing in Dublin for work, as many non-nationals and returning emigrants are, and entering the renting market fray alongside seasoned renters and those with proximity and references on their side.

So what's a newcomer or former ex-pat to do?

Well, the answer for many companies bringing new recruits in to Ireland seems to be to use a rental relocation service. The idea is that these companies handle all the tricky bits associated with moving to Ireland for the new or returning employee in the relatively short term and their company foot the bill.

On paper, it's efficient for the business and also allows the newcomer a settling-in period before they have to tackle the property market themselves. It also affords those coming here on a short-term contract a no-fuss approach.

As such, the rental-relocation business is booming. British company Inhous has just opened a Dublin office. "We decided to open here after three successful years in London because we could see the amount of people moving home for jobs as the economy is growing again," says the company's Barbara Carty.

"There was an average of 2.6pc employment growth here last year and with the amount of technology companies relocating to Ireland, as well as the aviation industry because of the available skills and tax regime, it made sense."

Barbara says that they get requests from all kinds of companies. "We provide bespoke employee destination and relocation services. People may be relocating and renting for the first year, some are here for three to six months and so short-term rentals are the answer there.

"One of the hardest elements of relocating to Dublin is to find suitable accommodation; it's very hard when you're not living in the country. The rental market is very low on stock and when something good does come up, it is snapped up, so you need to have someone here on the ground doing the search for you."

Inhous works with both corporate and private clients, and offers advice to prospective renters on different locales, proximity to amenities, schools and public transport as well as leisure facilities and places of worship. They can also assist with household set-up, education consultancy and concierge benefits. "We don't have our own properties; rather we work with agents and different companies to find our clients what they need."

Corporate Care Relocation has been up and running in Ireland since 1997 and the company has successfully relocated over 3,500 clients.

"There are two distinct categories of companies who look for our services," says MD Chris Winning. "Firstly, companies who are relocating existing employees or recruiting new staff from other locations; this applies equally to multinational and indigenous companies.

"The second category of company is the global relocation management companies (RMCs). They typically sign a deal at company headquarters - wherever that is in the world - to provide consistent and cost-effective relocation-support services in every country that the company has a presence. They then engage with destination service providers, such as ourselves, who are country-specific to deliver the required suite of services on their behalf."

Chris says that it benefits the companies, as they want to see their staff settled in Ireland with the minimum of stress and disruption.

"They need to comply with all relevant immigration requirements and get their employees settled in terms of accommodation, schools, cars, etc, quickly and cost-effectively, so that they can focus on the project or role. Apart from immigration support, the core services we provide are area orientation, home finding, schools and educational support and settling-in support."

If it sounds like a very 'boom-is-back' sort of service, that's perhaps because during the recession, few companies would have had the funds for such things. Fees vary with each project and depend on what services are availed of.

However, businesses used the service even during the economic downturn; companies have always required people with specific key skills and experience, so relocating them is nothing new. Perhaps it's the abundance of global companies moving staff to their Irish EMEA headquarters, as well as the wealth seeping back in to the country, that means it's a service being availed of more and more.

Yvonne Brophy works in executive rentals at Goffs Property and they work with companies like Corporate Care and Irishrelo, who look after international relocations, as well as private clients.

"We do some work with the K Club for the clients who want an executive-style property - a gated community with security. Then other companies want apartments in the Sallins and Naas areas for proximity to the office.

"I wouldn't say the business is booming any more than usual, but there is certainly a market for it as more companies like Intel bring staff to Ireland for 18-month stints."

As for the popularity of relocation rentals, Chris thinks that the big companies based in Ireland are cottoning on to the fact that taking good care of their staff pays big dividends in terms of performance on the job and company loyalty.

"Research shows that relocation can be a very stressful experience where an individual or family will often face challenges associated with a new country, new work environment, different language, different culture, driving on the 'wrong' side of the road and more. These companies also realise that relocation support is not a core HR function and dedicated professionals are required to provide professional solutions."

Case study

Russell Rochford, 39, is a solicitor from Dublin. He's just relocated back from London with his English wife and their children.

My wife and I have lived in London for over six years and we have a two-year-old and a four-month-old. When she became pregnant again, we started thinking about our long-term options, which were to stay in the UK and commute in to London, or come back to Ireland. We decided Dublin was the best option, primarily because of the support network we have here in terms of family, but also because of the schools here and the affordability of property compared to London. On top of that, there was potential to move my career forward here.

With a newborn, a relocation was going to be pretty stressful, so we felt we wouldn't have the time or energy to find a great place ourselves as there's so much else involved with moving country anyway. It was absolutely great to have finding somewhere to live off our plate and to have someone dedicated on the case.

Initially, we were concerned primarily with proximity to my office but we listened to our consultant Barbara from Inhous and came around to the idea that we wanted space over location, a bit of a compromise. Now we're renting a great four-bedroom house in Stillorgan and we don't know ourselves with the space - especially compared to our flat in London.

It was also really important to be close to a centre of sorts, because in London everything is so concentrated. We lived in Clapham, like lots of other Irish people, and everything is very convenient there, lots of shops and restaurants. So we feel like we have that in Stillorgan village - and we're not far from Blackrock either.

We were certainly thinking down the line and Barbara gave us good advice about creches and primary schools because, although I'm from Dublin, I didn't know much about that kind of thing!

We thought the service was great. As well as taking that hassle away from us, it educated us about the market. We hadn't appreciated that the rental market here is almost as fast-paced as London, so with Barbara's help we were able to move quickly.

Ultimately, down the line we would like to buy our own place, but at the moment we're absolutely delighted.

Sunday Independent

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