CapRelo Blog

What Should be Included in a Relocation Package?

Posted by Rick Bruce on Fri, Nov 11, 2016

You offer a relocation package that HR and senior management believes to be outstanding. But, is it really attractive to current employees or new hires? Are you sure your relocation package is comparable to your primary competitors' programs?

Sometimes, a relocation program appears to be attractive, but doesn't resonate with the affected employees. They may be reluctant to offer their real opinions about your relocation policy for fear of offending HR or senior management. These employees may refuse transfer opportunities or clandestinely seek employment elsewhere.

Learn more examples of relocation package features in our free guide.

Here are some popular relocation benefit components you should consider to keep your relocation package competitive.

Popular Relocation Package Features

  • Auto transportation. Unless your transferee is driving to the new location, getting family vehicles to new homes is vital.

  • Childcare reimbursement. House-hunting trips and the moving process are more efficient and less stressful on the employee if young children are safely protected and occupied.

  • Packing and unpacking assistance. Packing and unpacking employees' personal property is often a physically-taxing additional responsibility for transferee families. Full packing and unpacking services are important features of competitive corporate relocation programs.

  • Home-related services:

    • Multiple house-hunting trips. When moving to an unfamiliar area, one house-hunting trip may not be enough. A second cost-controlled trip is a welcome feature.
    • Lease-breaking penalty reimbursement. Early lease terminations typically trigger penalties, which employer-mandated transfers create. Reimbursing transferees for these penalties is welcome and cost-effective.
    • Final destination home-buying and mortgage help. Another popular feature that may or may not result in an employer expense.
  • Temporary housing and personal property storage assistance. Even after transferees find acceptable new homes, properties may not be ready in time for their scheduled start date. Providing temporary housing and covering the expense of storing personal property is a valuable feature.

  • Spousal employment assistance. Connecting transferee spouses with hiring companies or search firms helps maintain employee family financial stability.

These are but some of the popular features of competitive relocation programs. If your package is missing one or more of these components, consider introducing them to increase the attractiveness of your program.

Even those features that appear to be corporate "budget busters," such as multiple house hunting trips or home sale assistance, can include monetary caps. These are valuable features you can add to your relocation package to make it more competitive and attractive, while still controlling employer costs.




Topics: Temporary Housing, Spousal assistance, House Hunting Trips, relocation packages, relocation benefits

Home-Finding Assistance Services Benefit Both the Employer and Employee

Posted by Amy Mergler on Wed, Sep 23, 2015

istock_000010968215large-resized-600.jpgWhether a homeowner or renter, current senior executive or lower-level new hire, all relocating employees can use their employer’s help in finding a new residence.

Competitive, effective corporate relocation policies include home-finding assistance services in some form or another. All are helpful to your transferees. In addition to the obvious monetary benefits, providing home-finding assistance services will greatly reduce the employees’ stress level.

Learn more about developing relocation policies in our free guide.

Employer Benefits

One of the biggest benefits for the employer is the transferee’s productivity in the new location. Happy, stress-free employees are productive employees.

Additionally, setting reasonable parameters will offer cost containment and management benefits. To provide valuable benefits to your employee while also managing and controlling expenses, provide home-finding assistance and one or more reimbursed house hunting trips in your corporate relocation package.

Common Components in Relocation Programs

Finding a new home is stressful for employees in both good and bad real estate markets. You can help reduce this stress and maintain your transferee’s productivity by offering home-finding assistance. The best executive relocation policies usually include some common features:

  • Services to help hasten and smooth the procedure of locating, buying and moving into the employee’s new home.
  • One or two home-finding excursions (for 7 to 10 days total) for the transferee and spouse or partner.
  • Assistance in selecting a trained and experienced real estate professional.
  • Reimbursement for normal and customary house hunting expenses on an “as-submitted” or lump-sum basis.

While neither the employee nor the employer want a “rush to judgment” in selecting the new home, speed and efficiency are essential to getting the employee productive in the new location. Settling the family into the new home as smoothly and efficiently as possible will minimize stress and increase productivity for the employee.

Most Common Home-Finding Expense Reimbursements

Your corporate relocation policy should account for these common home-finding expenses.

  • Transportation Costs. These expenses can include airfare, auto rentals, mileage and appropriate miscellaneous expenses (tolls, parking, auto service, etc.).
  • Temporary lodging. This may include hotels, motels or other short-stay options for the house hunters.
  • Food and meals. Many relocation policies will offer per diem allowances for meals for each adult house hunter. When no per diem allowance is offered, transferees submit receipts for family meal reimbursement.
  • Daily child care costs. Policies should provide a daily allowance per child, with a maximum daily allowance for all minor children.

These covered expenses, along with other miscellaneous reimbursements, apply directly to the home-finding activities of the transferee. Home sale and/or purchase assistance will be covered in additional policy areas.

The stress of relocating to a new area can be detrimental to your employee’s productivity. Providing clearly defined home-finding assistance services in your corporate relocation policies will help alleviate some of that stress for the employee, while also providing you with a means to manage and control costs.

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Topics: Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, House Hunting Trips

What is Included with House Hunting Reimbursements?

Posted by Brian D'Orazio on Tue, Apr 08, 2014

threeway_campaign_photo-240x160.jpgSome corporate relocation packages offer the red carpet treatment, taking care of every aspect of a transferee’s move from travel arrangements and expenses to the actual packing and delivery of household goods. Other relocation packages aren’t quite as comprehensive and require relocating employees to do some of the heavy lifting – like traveling to their point of destination to seek out housing in advance of their move. The good news is many relocation packages offer reimbursement for house hunting.

Here is a list of some of the costs of house hunting that are frequently reimbursed by employers.

  • Travel costs. Because airfare can often be the most cost prohibitive aspect of scoping out new living arrangements in another state or country, most companies will offer to pay their employees back in full for the cost of travel – be that by train, plane, or automobile. This doesn’t mean that house hunting employees should assume they’ll be reimbursed for buying first class tickets, however. Unless it’s absolutely impossible, the most economic means of travel should be booked by the employee.

  • Cost of rentals or other associated transportation fees. If an employee decides to drive themselves across state lines on an extended house hunting expedition, they can expect to receive reimbursement for mileage and any required tolls. Regardless of whether the employee flies or drives, all additional transportation fees should be covered – including rental cars, buses, and taxis.

  • Lodging. House hunting ventures rarely get finalized in a single day. When searching for housing far from home, employees should expect to be reimbursed for hotel stays. As with airfare, lodging arrangements should be realistic – an employee may have a hard time receiving full reimbursement if they opt to rent out the penthouse suite of a high priced hotel.

  • Meals. Depending on the company’s policy, an employee may be given a per diem to cover meal expenses. Other times, meal expenses will be reimbursed for their actual amount and the employee will be required to provide receipts. The majority of the time, alcohol and entertainment won’t be considered a “necessary” house hunting expense and will therefore not be considered reimbursable.

  • Pet kenneling. Employees with pets at home may be reticent to leave their adopted family members behind, especially if they don’t have access to someone who can take care of them until their return. In these cases, the cost of pet kenneling or pet sitting services may be included in a house hunting reimbursement package.

Before packing a suitcase and heading out to scout housing, the first thing any relocating employee should do is check with their employer to determine what kinds of expenses will be covered, in addition to how and when they will be paid back. Always keep track of exact dollar amounts and never overestimate – since the IRS doesn’t consider house hunting expenses a deductible moving expense, any monies paid back to a relocating employee will be reported by their employer as taxable income.


A Guide to  Relocation Costs


Topics: Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, Household Goods, House Hunting Trips

A House Hunter's Checklist for Keeping Track of Expenses

Posted by George Herriage on Tue, Apr 01, 2014

prancheta-1508904-640x480If the corporate relocation package being offered to you requires that you perform a house hunting expedition on your own, it’s likely your employer will reimburse you for many associated expenses – including travel, lodging, and meals to name the most common. Naturally, you’ll want to check with your employer to determine what expenses are covered and what exclusions there are.

Here's a checklist to help you keep track of your expenses.

  • Get yourself a notebook and keep it with you at all times. This will come in handy as you keep track of all your receipts. You don’t want to have to hunt them down after your move.
  • Buy yourself a sturdy file folder. You will need this to keep all of your printed receipts and invoices in one safe place. Even if you decide to track everything electronically in Excel, your employer may require you to turn in physical receipts to prove your expenses.
  • If you’re hitting the road and driving your own car, track all mileage, and any additional fares and tolls you’ll be required to pay. Make sure you obtain receipts for all road travel expenses.
  • If you’re traveling by plane, train or bus, save all itineraries that include cost.
  • Track all meals and refreshments you buy and keep receipts, even if it’s just a simple soda purchase. Alcohol purchases may not be covered by your employer’s reimbursement plan.
  • Track all car rental costs and keep receipts.
  • Make note of all money spent on cab fare, shuttle and public transportation fees and ensure you obtain receipts for these.
  • Obtain documentation for all lodging costs. You will likely not be able to submit for reimbursement of entertainment expenses like in-hotel movie rentals, so be sure to make note of those costs so you can subtract them later.
  • Track all business related phone calls you make. Depending on your cell phone’s mobile plan, being out of network may result in you incurring additional roaming charges and long distance fees. Make note of the dates and times of all calls made or received, as well as their duration. This will make it easier for you to go through your phone bill later on and include any additional charges with your expense report.
  • Pet owners may have to make arrangements for their pets to be boarded during their time away from home. Add this to your list of expenses but many companies may not reimburse this type of expense.

Remember that the IRS doesn’t consider a house hunting trip to be a deductible expense. What this means is that any money you spend while house hunting for which your employer reimburses you will be reported to the IRS as taxable income – and you won’t be able to deduct those expenses when you file your personal taxes. For this reason, you may want to consider keeping costs as minimal as possible to prevent from inadvertently boosting yourself into a higher earnings bracket come tax season.

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Topics: Household Goods, Home Buyers, House Hunting Trips

[Video] A Cheat Sheet for HR Managers: 7 Keys to Employee Relocation

Posted by Brian D'Orazio on Tue, Jan 21, 2014

Please enjoy our video, "7 Keys to Employee Relocation: A Cheat Sheet for HR Managers."

Topics: attracting new hires, loss-on-sale relocation policy, House Hunting Trips, Corporate Relocation Costs

Important Features of a Home-Finding Trip

Posted by CapRelo on Tue, Aug 20, 2013

istock_000010968215large-resized-600Competitive relocation policies should include components related to finding a home in the new location.  One such benefit is to offer one or two home finding trips to the destination location.  There are several additional provisions that are considered competitive components.

Our free article provides additional information on real estate considerations for your relocation policy.

House-Finding Trip Provisions

Locating an appropriate home in an unfamiliar new location is a major transferee concern. Whether they are homeowners or renters, relocating employees need assistance when moving. In addition to setting reasonable parameters and time periods for each trip, among the most valuable home-finding trip policy features are:

  • Airfare or mileage reimbursement.
    Depending on the distance of the destination location from the current workplace, transferees and their spouses may prefer to drive or need to travel by commercial airlines.

  • Lodging.
    Describe (or name) acceptable hotels and maximum nights that your company will permit. This is another competitive feature that permits you to exercise cost control, while clearly defining your reimbursement policy.

  • Rental car.
    Transferees need flexible transportation for visiting homes in the new location. Unless employees are relocating to the center of a major city, such as New York, where taxi-fee reimbursement may be a better option, providing a rental car for viewing houses is an important feature.

  • Daily meals allowance.
    Set reasonable per diem meal allowances, capped depending on the parameters of your house hunting policy features. For example, do you permit transferee only, transferee and spouse or transferee and family home-finding trip reimbursement? Defining your daily allowance per person should eliminate confusion or uncertainty.

  • Expert assistance from a real estate agent.
    Be sure to partner with a local or national real estate firm with at least one available agent who has proven experience in relocation house hunting necessities and time constraints. Transferees will maximize their home-finding time, while employers control costs and get the results they want.

These house hunting trip features, accompanied by logical, reasonable and equitable reimbursement maximums, accomplish at least two important goals.

  1. You will offer a competitive corporate relocation program that helps you control most home hunting trip expenses.
  2. Your transferees will endure less uncertainty, stress and concern with finding an appropriate home in the destination location.

Compare your home-finding policy benefits with competing companies’ policies.  Be prepared to modify your policy to keep your relocation program competitive in your industry.

When you combine consistency of application with flexibility to modify policies when necessary, your relocation program will produce the desired results. Surprises faced by employers or transferees are unwelcome events. Minimizing uncertainty and confusion with house hunting trips delivers rewards to employers and transferees alike, while ensuring a smooth, cost-controlled relocation experience.

Free Article:  A Guide to Developing  Relocation Policies

Topics: Corporate Relocation Costs, House Hunting Trips

Real Estate Relocation Features for the Medical Industry

Posted by George Herriage on Tue, Jul 30, 2013

Medical employees, whether new hires or current staff, are often most concerned with having to sell their homes quickly at less than market value when faced with relocation. While most prospective transferees in all industries have these concerns, key medical personnel with these fears can impact entire communities, should they object to relocation.

Offering real estate-related assistance features in your relocation policy will appeal to medical professionals of all levels making recruiting and retaining needed talent a success.

Real Estate Features in a Strong Relocation Plan

Helping smooth out the transfer of key medical personnel is a major benefit of properly designed relocation programs. Real estate assistance may be the most important features of winning relocation policies focused on recruiting medical professionals. Among the wide spectrum of real estate features, the following are very popular with employers and employees alike.

  • Assistance selling the employee’s current home.

    Engaging an experienced real estate firm to sell the employee’s current home and reimbursing the transferee for the expenses to sell is a valuable feature for medical professionals.
  • Financial assistance for the loss on sale of a home.

    Including loss on sale reimbursements at first can appear daunting. However, you have the ability to control your cost by setting a maximum reimbursement level that is clearly stated in your written policy, which will be most competitive.
  • Retaining property management professionals to rent or facilitate the sale of an employee’s home.

    Qualified property management firms can perform two important tasks for your transferees and the company. Second, if the market makes it difficult to sell homes, property management firms can rent homes to qualifying prospective tenants to collecting rents.
  • Offering company-paid home finding trips, typically two, for the transferee and his or her spouse and/or family.

    House hunting in a new, unfamiliar location is challenging, sometimes frustrating. Relocation policies that include one or two home finding trips are highly attractive to medical professionals.
  • Partnering with an experienced, relocation savvy real estate agent, in the new area to help the transferee find suitable housing.

    The unfamiliarity with a new location causes transferee concerns. Experienced real estate agents working for transferees eliminate the mysteries and fears of finding the right home in the right neighborhood.
  • Arranging temporary living quarters while the transferee searches for or awaits the closing on a new home.

    Often, medical professionals are needed in new locations quickly. Even after multiple house hunting trips, transferees may not find acceptable homes or experience delayed closings. Medical employers offering furnished apartments, condos and single family homes as temporary housing for transferees will attract the best talent.
Free Article:  A Guide to Developing  Relocation Policies
These real estate relocation features form the foundation of competitive relocation policies for medical employers. Key transferees appreciate these benefits, making employers that offer them more attractive to relocating medical professionals.

Topics: Rental Issues, Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, House Hunting Trips, Temporary Housing, Tiered relocation packages

Turn Poor Relocation Policies into Competitive Programs

Posted by Chris Finckel on Tue, Jul 02, 2013

policy-manual-pagesMost multi-location employers realize they need relocation policies to maintain their ability to attract and retain talented employees. Unfortunately, some relocation programs are incorrectly designed. This situation often causes two problems:

  1. The policy does not address the primary concerns of relocating employees and new hires.

  2. The employer incurs costs without getting full value for money spent.

However, there are ways you can modify ineffective relocation policies to make them more transferee and employer friendly. Fortunately, it is not too difficult to accomplish these vital goals. Using forethought, understanding and some logical thought, you can create a budget-friendly, competitive relocation policy that will give you the talent attraction and retention levels you want.

How to Modify Your Relocation Program:

  • Eliminate single-tier and combined-benefit policies.
    One-size-fits-all policies often result in cost control but transferee dissatisfaction. There is little point in having outstanding cost control with non-competitive policies. Combined-benefit policies, offering lump sums to cover numerous relocation expenses, are equally confusing to transferees and your HR department. Keep your eye on the prize: Attracting and retaining talented employees.

  • Carefully plan and budget for home finding trips.
    Should you not practice pre-planning for home finding trips, your transferees often waste valuable time and your company wastes money. However, careful planning of home finding trips maximizes transferee time, while minimizing your costs.

  • Clearly state and cap your temporary living allowances.
    Temporary living expenses are an important component of relocation policies, but can become a "runaway train" of cost when not managed properly. Open-ended policies are expensive and offer little incentive for the transferee to accelerate the availability of the permanent home. For example, 60 to 90 days should be sufficient for transferees and control your costs.

  • Control and manage the transferee's efforts.
    Transferees can sometimes be overly conscientious, trying to solve too many relocation issues, costing them and the company money without achieving desired results. Clearly state both transferee and company responsibilities to minimize confusion and waste.

  • Be consistent with written policy exceptions.
    Relocation policy exceptions are inevitable. However, inconsistencies can damage an otherwise solid program. Not only might you face bloated relocation expenses, but you might create employee relations issues. Being consistent, with reasonable exceptions to published policies, will earn the respect of future transferees and new hires.

  • Clearly define loss-on-sale benefits.
    Executing quick sales of personal residences can be difficult. Incorporating reasonable loss-on-sale allowances in relocation policies are important components. To avoid employee confusion and unmanageable employer cost, be clear and complete in defining your policy's loss-on-sale benefits. Design fair and equitable benefits, with appropriate caps, to make your relocation policy more competitive and budget-friendly.

  • Choose third-party relocation firms carefully.
    Professional relocation firms accomplish three goals. First, they reduce administrative responsibilities of your HR department personnel. Second, they create smooth employee relocations. Third, they help employers manage and control relocation costs. Select your firm carefully to ensure an efficient, budget-friendly experience. Your accounting department, HR staff and transferees will thank you.

Relocation policies can help or hurt your staff and company budget. Use these suggestions to eliminate potential downsides and risks to the employer and employee. These tips will turn a questionable policy from a less-than-optimal feature into a competitive, cost-controlled and attractive program.

Free Article:  A Guide to Developing  Relocation Policies

Topics: Low-Stress Relocation, Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, loss-on-sale relocation policy, House Hunting Trips

Typical Features of Destination Services in Relocation Policies

Posted by George Herriage on Thu, Mar 07, 2013

sold_home-resized-600.jpgDestination services are components of successful relocation programs and include a myriad of features. Whether you internally administer your relocation program or make life easier for your HR department by using a relocation firm, there is one overall objective that supersedes all others:

Helping your transferee and his/her family become settled in the new location and home as quickly and as stress-free as possible. The goal never changes.


Relocation Realities

Destination services successfully address some relocation realities that exist regardless of the size, complexity or market standing of your company. Accepting these realities helps you design and minimize potentially negative effects of these realities on your transferees and your company.

  • Relocation programs include direct and indirect expenses, and sometimes hidden costs.
  • Relocating offers opportunities for your employee and stress on their family
  • Fear of the unknown—such as moving to an unfamiliar location—is a natural human emotion.

The faster employees become “comfortable” in their new location, the faster they return to high performing, productive employees.

The Two “Cs”

If your relocation policy addresses at least these two concerns, it will be efficient. The two considerations:

  • Cost control. Just as senior management strives to control costs in all areas of company operations, relocation programs can achieve this goal in various ways. You can design policies that offer valuable features, but cap or control direct and indirect expenses.
  • Competitiveness. Finding and keeping talented employees involves more than attractive salaries and bonus opportunities. Survey after survey indicates that employers offering pleasant workplaces, opportunities for employees to “shine,” expressions of staff appreciation, work-life balance considerations and valuing employee opinions and ideas, are more successful in attracting and retaining employees. Your relocation program must be similar to the policies offered by your competition for staff talent to maintain a “level playing field.”

Competitive Destination Service Menu

Destination services are one of the most important features of competitive relocation programs. The downside is minimal; the benefits are numerous. Your program need not be extravagant, but should address your transferees’ primary concerns. Consider including the following typical features in the destination service section of your relocation program.

  • Home search assistance. Typically the most important transferee concern, this component can take multiple forms. At a minimum, match your transferee with relocation experienced real estate agents these professionals understand the time and monetary constraints on transferees and their employers. Reimbursing the transferee and spouse for one or two house hunting trips of specified duration relieves relocation stress and is budget-friendly.
  • Help in finding an appropriate neighborhood. Finding acceptable neighborhoods is another stress-inducing transferee concern. Providing information, demographics and insider evaluations of neighborhood options is a stress-reducing and valuable destination service.
  • School information for transferees with children. Provide reliable resources regarding public and private schools in the new location. Your selected real estate agent(s) can also provide the transferee with neighborhood and school information to quell transferee concerns or fears.
  • Compensation and reimbursement amounts.   To remain competitive, consider compensation and reimbursement adjustments when you relocate employees to a higher cost-of-living environment. This will strengthen your employer-employee bond and staff engagement level.
  • Quality of life features. Cost-of-living is only one component of a person’s quality of life. A clean, professional workplace and the opportunity to maintain or improve the transferee’s previous quality of life deliver benefits to both employer (higher staff retention) and employee (personal and family satisfaction.)

These destination service features should form the foundation of your relocation policy. Depending on your transferee's situation, company goals, you can fine tune or add to these typical valuable features.

You’ll find that both new hires and current employees will relocate with less stress and a faster return to productivity and the as the employer, you will thoroughly reap the benefits of providing them with destination services that meet their needs.


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Topics: relocation benefits, Home Selling and Purchase Assistance, Corporate Relocation Costs, destination services, House Hunting Trips

Employer and Employee Benefits of House Hunting Trips

Posted by Barbara Miller on Tue, Oct 09, 2012

family-house-for-sale.jpgWhether you are a homeowner or renter, when relocating to a new, unfamiliar area, you certainly would appreciate assistance from your employer. Whether you're a senior executive or a new lower-level hire, all relocating employees can use employer help in finding a new residence.

The best employee relocation policies contain this important feature. They can take various forms, all of which are helpful to transferees. In addition to the obvious monetary benefits, home finding assistance greatly reduces the employee's stress level.

Learn more about developing relocation policies with our free guide.

Employer Benefits

This result is particularly beneficial to employer expectations of transferred employee productivity in the new location. Happy, stress-free employees are productive employees.

Setting reasonable parameters offers cost containment and management benefits for employers. Expense management and control must be matched with valuable benefits for your employees. Home finding assistance and one or more reimbursed house hunting trips achieve this goal.

Common Components in Relocation Programs

Finding a new home is stressful for employees in good or bad real estate markets. Reducing this stress level by offering home-finding help is always important. The best executive relocation policies usually feature some consistent benefits, like:

  • Hasten and smooth the procedure of locating, buying and occupying the employee's new home
  • Provide for one or two home-finding excursions, for seven to 10 days total, for both the transferee and his/her spouse or domestic partner
  • Help selecting a trained and experienced real estate professional.
  • Reimbursement for normal and customary house hunting expenses on an "as-submitted" or lump sum basis.
Often, the most vital component is selecting the "right" real estate agent. The most respected, experienced professionals deliver more than just knowledge of the area and the best homes for sale or rent. These agents have a strong network to find preferred homes, condos or apartments for the transferee. They also assist in narrowing their search criteria, hastening the process of selecting the most appropriate properties.

While neither employee nor employer wants transferees to "rush to judgment" in selecting their new home, speed and efficiency are essential. The move must be completed as quickly as possible to have your employee become productive at the new location. Employers need this result. Transferees also need to minimize moving stress and get their families settled into new homes as smoothly as possible.

Most Common Home-Finding Expense Reimbursements

Transportation costs. Including airfare, auto rentals, mileage costs and appropriate miscellaneous expenses (tolls, parking, auto service, etc.)

Temporary lodging. Including hotels, motels or other short-stay options for the house hunters.

Food and meals. Most solid relocation policies offer per diem allowances of around $40 per day, per adult house hunter, without requiring receipt submission. When no per diem allowance is offered, transferees submit receipts for family meal reimbursement.

Daily child care costs. Common allowances are around $50 per day per child, up to a maximum $100 per day for all minor children.

These covered expenses, along with other miscellaneous reimbursements, apply directly to the home finding activities of the transferee. Home sale and/or purchase assistance is covered in additional policy areas. House hunting assistance reimbursement parameters and maximum amounts, if any, are specified or negotiated as needed, per policy language.

Free Article:  A Guide to Developing  Relocation Policies


Topics: relocation benefits, Home Buyers, destination services, House Hunting Trips

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