Employee-relocation companies and the mortgage companies they work with are enjoying brisk business despite the downsizing of corporate America.
And in fact, some of the extra volume may be because of past downsizing in which companies shed their own relocation staffs, so now they must turn to outsourcing the services.
Coldwell Banker Relocation Services Inc. says the worst of the downsizing is over. It expects to handle more than 40,000 domestic transferees in 1996, 20% more than last year, said Stephen Roney, president and chief executive. And a survey by a moving-van company found that corporations expect to increase their relocations over the next five years.
Last year, Coldwell joined Bank of America's mortgage division to offer housing finance assistance in all 50 states to employees who must move.
For its clientele - mainly Fortune 50 companies - the Coldwell-Bank of America alliance funnels reimbursement money to employees, provides advance counseling, and helps them sell their old homes. When the employees move, Bank of America helps them secure new mortgages through a pool of lenders - including itself.
A link with a corporate relocation specialist can provide lenders with a source of large high-quality loans.
"This is a different business from normal retail mortgage," said Mr. Roney. "You've got a more qualified borrower, with a higher credit profile, who is buying a home above the median."
Mortgage companies not already affiliated with corporate relocation programs may want to set up such partnerships, according to a study released by Atlas Van Lines, Evansville, Ind.
Its survey of corporate relocation policies in 1995 found that almost 30% of companies involved expect to increase the number of employees moved in 1996. By the year 2000, more than 60% of companies surveyed say they expect to increase relocations.
Corporations are moving away from offering to buy their employees' old homes, the Atlas survey says. Only 37.9% of companies participating in the survey bought an employee's former home during 1995, down from 42.2% in 1994.
Also, fewer companies were helping employees arrange mortgages or swing loans. The shift leaves room for real estate agents and brokers to step in, Mr. Roney said.
In fact, even moving companies have gotten into the act.
Currently, about two-thirds of Atlas Van Line's business is corporate relocations, said Jim Huth, director of corporate communications for the van line. It is unusual for a mover to have such an arrangement with a mortgage company, he said, but often real estate agents provide links between the two.
Atlas Van Lines has a lead-sharing program with Century 21, the nationwide real estate giant, but is reevaluating it, Mr. Huth said.
He singled out the Midwest as a popular destination for employee relocations last year. And he noted that California, for years mostly a place for Atlas to relocate employees from, was equally a destination last year.