US global mobility: property and removals trends

Relocate Global finds out from an expert how the wider US economic picture is affecting the country’s real-estate and household goods moving sector.

Paxton relocation and removals

See more features about global mobility in the US in the Autumn 2016 issue of Relocate magazine on our Digital Issues page.


As part of our autumn focus on relocation and global mobility in the USA, Relocate Global’s managing editor, Fiona Murchie, asked Bill Paxton, COO of Paxton, which provides removals, relocation and logistics management services across the US and internationally, for his perspective on current trends.FM: We would welcome your expert comment on household goods trends and what is currently impacting the market. Which countries and regions is the volume of moves coming from and why, and what are the most active industry sectors?BP: Positive movement in US unemployment rates, existing home sales and consumer confidence are all contributing to the current business environment and trends in global mobility. According to the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA), corporate relocation represents a little over one-third of household goods revenue, while the remaining 64 per cent are individuals, military personnel and the government.While corporate relocation increased in 2015, budgets that had been previously reduced in the recovering economy were slow to bounce back, but that is slowing increasing in 2016.The key is keeping pace with relocation volumes, types, seasonal surges, policy and practices, and what is driving employee relocation. For example, the average age of employees relocating is under 36 years, driving more entry-level and mid-level positions as well as the approach and what’s important to relocating young professionals.

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FM: After the recent uptick in the US residential property market, commentators are reporting signs of a downturn. What is the current picture for relocating domestic employees seeking to purchase or rent a home? What is the situation for international assignees moving to the US and most likely to rent a home? BP: There has been a positive uptick in home sales across the US. However, when it comes to corporate relocation, the question of choosing to rent versus buy continues to be hot topic and trend.According to a 2015 Worldwide ERC transfer survey, the question of choosing to rent has become a common practice, especially among younger working Americans. Rent.com reports that nearly six out of ten Millennials say that affordability, with ‘inherent freedom’, is a key reason for choosing to rentCorporations support with relocation assistance existing homeowners who wish to purchase in the new location, even though more than half of companies report seeing an increase over the past three years in the number of home-owning transferees choosing to rent, as the Worldwide ERC survey showed.For US inbound assignments, most corporations are still staying clear of new home purchases, and encouraging assignees to rent. In the US, most assignees will even sign their own leases. Permanent transfers to the US are more likely to purchase. We must remember, though, that relocating homeowners represent a small portion of the overall US housing market.FM: Are talent shortages an issue for Paxton and its clients? BP: According to the Atlas Van Lines 49th Annual Corporate Relocation Survey of 445 human resources and relocation professionals, company growth and expansion efforts were the top two internal factors driving relocation, while a lack of qualified local talent was at the top of external issues.This, in turn, drives the need for household goods movement, both domestically and internationally. This is clearly evidenced by the steadily increasing growth at Paxton International on the corporate and government fronts.FM: We know that the US is the single largest investor in the UK, and that many US companies regard the UK as the gateway to trading with other EU member states. How will the UK’s planned exit from the EU affect US businesses and the wider US economy? Are there signs from your clients that US companies will move their European operations from the UK to other EU member states? BP: While US banks and the financial services sectors have the largest potential shift at risk, at Paxton we have seen normal assignment activity in and out of the UK, but have not seen any of our current clients exiting the UK to other EU member states. One of our US financial clients with major operations in the UK has seen increased assignments to and from the UK/US and UK/Asia in support of their strategic growth, not necessarily due to Brexit.

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