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November 7, 2014

From CHPA: Top 6 Questions Answered About Temporary Living

by AvenueWest Managed Corporate Housing

The Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) has compiled the six most frequently asked questions regarding corporate housing answered by several different corporate housing providers and they have allowed us to post these here:

“While most industries have rebounded and are making strides, the economic downturn created an entire class of new, innovative ventures – the new sharing economy. While local governments and communities continue to struggle with how this new paradigm impacts businesses and communities, business – and global mobility – moves on. Whether you need a ride, someone to care for your pets, or someplace to temporarily stay, how we get what we need, personally and professionally, is changing. In today’s ever-evolving business climate, corporate housing professionals remain a strong resource in the relocation industry.

We asked several corporate housing providers to clarify common questions of guests about what they offer in today’s marketplace…

  1.  The industry average for temporary living is $140 per day. This equates to a $4,200 per month apartment and seems expensive. What comprises the rate?

When seeking quotes for corporate housing, guests are often tempted to compare this lodging option to extended stay hotel rates. While rates may be similar in some markets, they are vastly different in many others. Be sure to analyze that you are comparing like items. Simply comparing daily rate is comparing apples to oranges. Think beyond just a roof and a bed, and include all the items that make a house a home.

Included in the rate are housewares, linens, furniture, electronics, decor and lighting, and a single source for all utilities and customer service oversight. Other common and readily available services are cable television or satellite service, movie options, wireless internet and even local phone service and housekeeping. Corporate housing also includes many upscale amenities and services expected in how we live today as this housing is in a residential setting. Services such as grocery shopping, business centers, fitness centers, car services, and pet-friendly properties are readily available if needed in this temporary space.

When breaking down the cost of corporate housing even further to illustrate how all of the additional costs and expenses are factored into the price of the accommodation, the profit margins are very small and getting smaller as rents continue to increase. Outside of rent, the additional costs can be 50% or more of the total cost.

‘Factoring in all of the housewares and furniture plus the utilities, the net cost is more than double the base rent per month,’ Gavan James, CCHP, President and CEO of Nomad Temporary Housing explains. ‘Finally, they must have staff to administer their business, sell, set-up, clean and service the apartment and factor in vacancy cost for when the apartment is not rented. The net result is ofter a 5% profit margin on that apartment.’

With more square footage, more residential-type amenities, as well as access to all resident functions, corporate housing guests can participate in a community rather than just pass through a transient environment.

2. Why does availability change from day to day?

Availability fluctuations seem mysterious; however, the answer is simple. While there are many options when it comes to hotel choices, availability at apartment communities is at an all-time low across the country. Available inventory is often difficult to locate and once an apartment has been returned to the community, it might not be available to rent again. These communities are looking for long-term renters, so a returned apartment is often immediately re-leased.

‘Units are only offered once the guest gives a formal notice to depart. These notices are received on a daily basis, making those apartments available to the next renter,’ says Jeff Mahoney, Vice President of Global Business Development for Weichert Corporate Housing. ‘It is important to make a timely decision when an apartment is offered, or the apartment may be rented to another guest.’

3. Why can’t we get a volume discount for larger groups such as a summer intern group?

Corporate housing costs for expenses such as rent and utilities are fixed costs. They do not change regardless of the number of units a provider manages at a property. In addition, market forces can make offering discounts difficult, especially in summer months.

‘Apartment rents are higher during the busy summer months. Availability is also at a premium due to higher demand,’ explains Guy Cook, COO of SuiteAmerica. ‘Both of those forces pre-empt flexibility on price, even for large groups.’

Most corporate housing providers agree that given the length of stay and number of accommodations needed, some flexibility may apply. Proper planning and advanced notice can help inform your housing provider so they can review available apartments to offer a creative solution that could save you money.

‘Most companies would like to see their interns have housing at one location,’ says Pam Wade, CCHP, Vice President of Gables Corporate Accommodations and CHPA Chairman of the Board. ‘Strategically, it makes more sense to work with a provider that has inventory in the market the company needs and place the company associates at several locations.’

4. I need a place for a short stay for 30 or 60 days, why should I rent from a corporate housing provider instead of an online host, such as an AirBnB place? They seem cheaper and more hip.

With all the variables that come with relocating, it is often tempting for individuals to use an online marketplace to manage the housing portion of their relocation. As this is how most people are comfortable finding hotel accommodations, using this approach to finding longer-term housing seems like a logical next step. Individual searches for acceptable lodging can be risky and daunting; however, using a corporate housing provider can reduce the stress and liability of trusting strangers.

Corporate housing providers have a great deal of experience in providing everything a relocating individual or family needs. These professionally managed companies have a vested interest in making sure guests have a positive experience as their company’s reputation is at stake. ‘With a Code of Ethics, best practices training and a network of partners to provide a guest with what they need,’ says Samantha Elliott, CCHP, CRP, President of Preferred Corporate Housing, ‘partnering with a professional corporate housing provider alleviates risk.’ Online marketplaces come with more risk.

Security is certainly one of the major concerns for someone new to the area. This includes security of the property as it relates to the location as well as the safety and condition of the property itself. Apartments are zoned for the correct type of occupancy as well as abide by fire and safety codes. When using a personal residence found through an online marketplace, there is no guarantee the accommodation will be safe and secure.

‘Renting a small room in someone’s house or apartment might be fun for a few days,’ say Piper Ayala, CCHP, Vice President of ExecuStay Midwest. ‘But for extended stays, the comfort, convenience and spaciousness of a corporate apartment is a much better fit for corporate travelers.’

As online marketplaces do not monitor or regulate safety compliance for listings, it is the responsibility of the end user to properly assess the safety and condition of listings. This can be very difficult and time-consuming for guests. There are very few resources available that provide background information or inspection history for listing owners and their properties.

With all the variables that come with relocating, finding knowledgeable expertise to ensure a smooth transition is critical to avoiding an expensive ‘bad’ decision. The majority of individual postings on web aggregator sites do not have experienced mobility professionals to help relocate individuals and families globally. Look for professionals that hold designations from various organizations, including ERC certifications, that reflect their dedication and knowledge in the industry.

Just as relying on online marketplaces can be risky, so can expecting to use extended stay hotels for short-term stays. While there may be some availability, they may not be able to accommodate a guest for the duration of their stay.

‘When comparing corporate housing to hotels, keep in mind that hotels may not be able to offer 30 or 60 consecutive days,’ explains Wade. ‘If there are other events going on in a market (sporting events, conventions, etc.), there may already be weeks or weekends booked months in advance.’

5. Typically, the minimum length of stay in corporate housing is often 30 days, based on local and/or legal restrictions. When and why is a shorter length of stay acceptable? What is the maximum length of stay?

Corporate housing is governed at the local level. Many times, local regulations prohibit stays of less than 30 days. Shorter term stays for less than 30 days may be available where it is legal. Your professional corporate housing provider can advise on this issue on a per market basis. Conversely, guests can frequently stay in corporate housing indefinitely depending on availability, allowing for flexibility for extended assignments.

‘We consistently monitor and stay informed on the local laws and legal restrictions as it relates to the minimum stays in our markets,’ says Billy Cochran, Director of Operations for TP Corporate Lodging. ‘While there are frequently minimum stay requirements, guests can often stay in their accommodation as long as it is available and frequently can extend their stays.’

6. Why do I need to give a 30 day notice to depart a temporary apartment? A hotel does not require this.

A notable difference between hotels and corporate housing is the notice to depart. While hotels typically don’t require any type of notice that a guest is leaving, corporate housing typically requires 30 days’ notice. Corporate housing companies manage their inventory by controlling their vacant apartments. Keeping vacancy low allows them to offer competitive rates, keeping the rates reasonable for guests.

‘An extended stay hotel allows guests to depart without notice; however, they would charge significantly more per day for a comparably sized apartment alternative,’ says James. ‘Corporate housing providers ask for a 30 day notice so they have time to re-rent the apartment and avoid a vacancy.’

With more housing options today than ever before, the answers to these questions are critical to a successful temporary stay. Understanding the reality of today’s marketplace will help set expectations and ensure a smooth transition by alleviating stress. One way to do this is to partner with a qualified corporate housing provider for all of your needs.”

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