The end of Q1 2022 found Asia in a markedly different place from the start of the year. As borders open in many of our locations, the next set of challenges is steadily creeping into focus.
During the Relocation Reboot stage of this pandemic, assignees and their families need as much, if not more, support than they did the day the borders shut. Landlords found new tenants for their properties, and everything from schools to short-term housing providers made adjustments for the demand level of yesterday.
At Relo Network Asia, we are often asked about our capacity to take on more assignee services. We continue to increase our team numbers to accommodate demand increases, but our staffing is only part of the overall picture that impacts assignees’ ability to move successfully. Destination and Immigration services rely on the availability and speed of a widely varied group of essential resources from landlords and realtors, hotels and temporary accommodations, schools and childcare professionals through to cars, furniture, and repair companies.
We turned our attention to this part of the supply chain in our most recent report. Every day since the initial drafting, we see confirmation of any assumptions made mere weeks ago. Each country is different depending on the local market, the popularity of mobility destination, and even the date that borders began to open. However, the trend is clear: demand increases, supply decreases, and prices go up.
Two examples from Singapore, a high volume destination who was amongst the first to open borders.
- Temporary accommodations in Singapore have mostly been booked through the end of August.
- It has become next to impossible to source properties for assignees that are not paying the realtor fee. At one time, this fee was paid entirely by the owners of typical expat properties. This is no longer the norm, and payment of the realtor fee, whether by the assignee or employer, is necessary for locating a home in a reasonable amount of time. For assignees in Singapore, where a realtor fee is not incorporated into the search, the search takes far longer in terms of weeks than the days companies provide for destination support. We have several assignees who are on week two and three and even one who is on week 5 of home searches where days can pass before there is a property that meets their requirements without a fee.
During the height of the pandemic, we were able to provide options for support in the form of Supplemental Services. However, today’s solutions are not so general. Our partnerships will continue to be critical as the best course of action will change quickly, resulting in case-by-case recommendations for support. In general, employers wishing to pave the easiest path forward should help to set appropriate assignee expectations and align benefits with the local situation. This may include paying a realtor fee for home finding, extending temporary housing, providing more days of Destination Support, and assisting employees with the ability to quickly sign contracts and place the required funds to secure housing.
As always, we remain at your service to support you, your clients and their employees through another year of dramatic changes. At least this year is also filled with an equal number possibilities.