More of Our Corporate Transferees are Renting Prior to Buying in Chicago

Kate Santo (pictured) is a relocation coordinator at Chicago-based Rubloff. Rubloff Residential Properties was founded in 1930. As a relocation coordinator, Santo places Rubloff clients and new transferees with brokerage firms nationwide and internationally. Santo’s job is to understand her clients’ needs and to facilitate transition to a new city, as smoothly as possible.Santo is a certified world relocation specialist and is a Relo certified coordinator. She recently spoke at the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Fall Workshop in Chicago. Santo tells MHN Online News Editor Anuradha Kher about what it is to be a relocation coordinator and the challenges she faces in relocation within multi-housing. MHN: What percentage of Rubloff’s work is in the multihousing industry? Santo: Approximately 80 percent of our incoming buyers in Chicago are looking for multifamily housing. The price point for a single-family home in Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods tends to be higher, so most incoming buyers feel more comfortable with median prices for condos in the city.  MHN: What is your role as relocation expert? Santo: As a relocation professional, it is my task to assess exactly what a new client’s needs are in Chicago. Once I know the neighborhoods or the type of home that the buyer is seeking, I can then choose an agent with our firm who specializes in those areas. The task then is to ensure that effective communication is taking place between the client and the agent, and that the clients’ needs are being met every step of the way. It is our goal to make their transition as seamless as possible. MHN: How has your company been affected by the housing downturn? How are you tackling the negative impact? Santo: The main shift we have seen this year in relocation trends is that more of our corporate transferees are renting prior to purchasing here in Chicago. This is a direct effect of longer market times nationwide. With incoming transferees unable to sell their homes in their departure cities, they are waiting to immediately purchase here. To keep up with this increased demand, we have expanded our rental services in an effort to incubate these prospective buyers and to keep them familiar with the Rubloff brand.   MHN: What are the relocation challenges in multi-housing? Santo: In a city of Chicago’s size and with the current state of the market, there is a lot of housing inventory. At first, this can be overwhelming to a prospective buyer; however, if a client has pets or wants more square footage than is the norm, it becomes difficult to find them units in their given areas that will accommodate these needs. At times, it is frustrating for transferees to come from a city where they had a 5,000 sq. ft. home and learn that in Chicago, they are more likely to have a 1,200 sq. ft condo. Also, most people relocate with their pets; however, a lot of building associations have pet count or weight limits. When these issues arise, it is a matter of educating the client on other housing types or areas that may better suit their needs. As for transferees who need to sell in the Chicago market, the abundance of units makes the competition steep and the market time long. MHN: Can you outline some of the insights you shared at Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Fall Workshop in Chicago? Santo: At the conference this Fall I was able to discuss the impact that current market conditions have had on relocation departments nationwide. I offered insight on how our relocation department at Rubloff in Chicago has evolved to accommodate the changing marketplace and how we have implemented new programs to ensure that we remain strong in 2008. We also focused on e-commerce, and how it is impacting the real estate industry.