Adapt and thrive through shifts in relocation trends

Insight into relocation trends and migration shifts from a South Carolina broker.

You could say I know a thing or two about relocation. My company, ERA Wilder Realty, in South Carolina, has consistently achieved the highest performance and service levels in this sector of the real estate business. We notice a considerable decrease in corporate relocation activity and deferred military moves last year. What happened outside of the traditional corporate and military moves was fascinating because, frankly, 2020 was anything but traditional. Here are the highlights, from our perspective.

Significant migration from the north

Lucinda Brasington, who oversees the company’s lead generation division, saw a much higher than usual migration from our traditional feeder markets of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio. These clients made self-directed, out-of-market moves.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 45% of purchases made in 2020 were in the Southern region of the country. We attribute this to our lower median home prices than the Eastern Seaboard, favorable taxes and the growing number of people who can work from home permanently. People were able to think differently about where they lived. And, relocation trends reinforced that.

Other out-of-market moves consisted of people who had previously lived in the Greater Columbia region and decided to return thanks to the favorable cost of living. This included people looking to retire, people wanting to be closer to family, and military personnel who had been stationed in the area.

Different uses for homes

In other client segments, we observed an uptick in snowbird vacation home buyers, short-term buyers who only intended to stay a few years, as well as investment purchases in the vacation rental sector.

In my opinion, low mortgage rates and high affordability combined with growing investment portfolios made investing in a second home popular with affluent businesspeople from New York and New Jersey.

Over the long term, these homes will increase in value, despite price inflation. But in the short term, these buyers can enjoy a slower pace, better weather and an incredible lifestyle.

Conversion is still key for all leads

ERA Wilder Realty agents who work with corporate relocation and military clients are required to perform at certain standards to continue receiving company-generated leads.

We believe that the three most essential elements in achieving consistently high conversion rates across all lines of business in the company are transparency, accountability and communication. To instill these traits, we don’t deliver negative criticism but instead always ask, “Is this your absolute best?” I see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy. In order to get more business, you must perform. If performance wanes, so does the flow of leads.

Matchmaking plays an important part

Another key component of the conversion success rate is matching incoming leads with the right agent. From skill set and past performance to personality and interests, Brasington immerses herself in data to ensure the best person works each relocation lead. She explains in this way: People put their trust in us to help them make one of the most important purchases of their life. We constantly evaluate our team so we can feel fully confident in putting the right people together.

It’s vital to pay attention to relocation trends. No matter where potential business originates or where customers come from, we remain are highly attuned to our clients’ needs so we can leave a lasting impression.

Eddie Wilder is the broker-owner of ERA Wilder Realty, Columbia, South Carolina. ERA Wilder Realty’s service area includes many spots primed for vacation: golf and country club resorts, lake communities near Lake Marion and Lake Murray, and beach properties around Charleston.