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Century 21 Buys a Management Relocation Company in Walnut

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Century 21 Real Estate Corp. said Monday that it has acquired Western Relocation Management Inc. of Walnut in a bid to bolster its share of the growing corporate relocation market.

Century 21 has been looking to acquire a relocation firm for two years. Its purchase of Western Relocation comes almost 12 months after rival Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate won a bidding contest to acquire Empire Relocation Services in Florida.

While Century 21 has handled business relocations at 300 of its nearly 6,000 offices nationwide, it contracted with outside firms to provide many of the services, said Richard J. Loughlin, president and chief executive of the giant real estate franchise company.

Acquisition of Western Relocation, he said, “gives us the opportunity to get into and expand in the whole corporate relocation market.”

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Typically, a relocation management firm helps find homes for executives transferred to new communities and often, in a slow market, will purchase and resell the employee’s former home. It also provides counseling to help employees cope with the stress of moving.

Real estate executives say that corporate relocation is an important and increasing part of the residential home market. In a weak economy, corporate relocations can actually provide most of the market because businesses with several locations typically transfer executives on a regular schedule, regardless of the state of the economy.

“What is happening in relocation is what is happening in most businesses,” he said. “There is a lot of consolidation going on because of the economies of scale and (acquiring a relocation firm) lets you offer the same services at lower prices,” said Chandler B. Barton, chairman and chief executive of Coldwell Banker in Mission Viejo.

While Western Relocation is a national firm with branch offices in Dallas and Danbury, Conn., it is considered a small operation in a business dominated by just four players.

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The relocation firms owned by Prudential Insurance, Coldwell Banker, GE Credit Corp. and PHH Home Equity Corp. account for about 80% of the market, industry officials said.

“This is a small company, but we expect it to give us the opportunity to grow,” Loughlin said.

Western Relocation will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Century 21.


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