01 May Returning emigrants prompt executive relocation business
London-based relocation service expands to Dublin as homecoming client base grows
London & Dublin
David Johnson, managing director of Inhous, with property consultant Barbara Carty
David Johnson, managing director of Inhous, a property brokerage consultancy originally set up in London, noted the upward spike when enquiries came in about whether their services extended to his native Ireland. That prompted the opening of a Dublin office this year.
Enquiries were mostly about their corporate relocation service, where Inhous will find suitable accommodation and arrange the logistics of the move.
“We’ve a hell of a lot of Irish looking to come back to Ireland and these guys would touch base with us to see if we could help them out with the Irish search.
“These are people who have been abroad since they left when the recession kicked in and now they want to get back. They have jobs in place and they’ve done the hard work and research into it. They’ve been away for five or six years and they just want to get back to Ireland,” he says.
As well as Irish people returning home, a number of clients are executives locating to work in the Irish offices of large multinationals “who find the corporation tax appealing,” he says.
“It’s quite international, but the Irish are a big force.”
Most of these clients are professionals in their early 30s to early 40s, and many are looking to settle down for good, after feeling they had put their life on pause while abroad.
“It’s quite interesting because a lot of them feel, when they’ve been abroad, they can’t get on with their lives because they’re just renting a property, that it’s not for the rest of their lives. They see it as a transition period where they’ll do it for a couple of years but most of them want to get back home,” he says. In recent research Inhous asked clients how much they were prepared to spend on monthly residential costs.
Inhous has spotted the opportunity in moving its model beyond London to work for both commercial and residential properties in Ireland.
The way the property market stands, particularly in Dublin, professionals looking to make the move don’t have time to make trips back and forth to look at properties, so they rely on Inhous to find what they’re looking for. Typically, Johnson says, they are not first-time buyers or sellers.
“Obviously the property and rental markets right now are moving that bit faster, so they don’t have the luxury of coming back to see the property, so there’s a real trust factor there. We just make sure they get a really good property for their budgets.”
Johnson says people appreciate an independent party in the process.
This applies similarly to the other side of the company’s business: a sales, lettings and staging service, where it acts on behalf of sellers and landlords, private or corporate – a go-between between clients and estate agents.
The business began four years ago, after Johnson left his job at London estate agent Marsh and Parsons to go it alone. Frustrated with the unregulated estate agent business in the UK, where he found that over-valuation and overly competitive commission systems were common, he set up as a middleman to offer “independent, unbiased advice” to sellers and landlords, and find ways to maximise property values, including staging them as showhouses with rental furniture.
The Dublin office splits business 60-40 between corporate relocations, and selling and letting. Johnson says they have hundreds on their books on the relocation front, but that he hadn’t expected the sales and lettings side to take off so quickly.
“The relocations business is consistent; with the sales, it’s a slower growing service. But to my surprise, it’s definitely picking up quite a lot,” he says. “With corporate bodies, we have four on our books with property portfolios and then we have private clients. Just through word of mouth, we serviced one or two clients initially and these guys are passing their experience over to other clients.”
Though the fees come from the estate agent, rather than as an extra charge, Johnson has found agents welcome Inhous’ input into the process.
“A lot of agents in Ireland as well as London, to win the properties, they have to oversell it a bit. When we bring a property to an agent, the average time it will stay on is very short because we value it right, we set expectations right and sellers and landlords listen to us because we are an independent expert,” he says.