I had a chance to sit down with Wrayann Estey, (Real Estate Agent, CRP) one of Archibald Relocation and Real Estate’s real estate agents, and have a discussion with her about how she sees real estate as the primary key to a successful relocation. This is a closely held philosophical belief all of us here at Archibald, and one of the core drivers for our service model.

I wanted to share Wrayann’s words as she really hits the heart of the relocation experience.

You have over 25-years of relocation related real estate experience. What initially got you into the field? What has kept you in real estate?

To be honest, when I first started in real estate, I wasn’t completely sure what I was getting in to. Helping buyers is more complex than just “here is a home, make an offer.” It involves getting them used to the area – what is the commute, what are the schools like, what ‘feel’ do you want in a neighborhood, what activity is happening nearby. Half the time you are part real estate agent, part counselor. Lots of relocation related purchases involve a trailing spouse too, and often they have to keep track of many parts of the relocation, not just the housing.

I stayed in the field because of the great people I get to meet and spend time with every day. Arguably the biggest piece of the purchase process is time. With a managed relocation backing up the buy, I know that the buyer has the time they need to come to a good decision in finding their new home. Without the managed relocation and benefits like a Buyer Value Option, among others, buyers can be trapped into making rushed decisions that could cost the client their new employee.

How did you initially set your sights on Archibald Relocation? What was the draw?

I had heard about Beth from the other relocation teams I worked with as someone who had an excellent reputation for putting client’s needs first and having a high degree of quality. Archibald Relocation fit me perfectly – it is a uniquely structured, high-end boutique relocation company – I liked that. When I first called Beth I was trying to become a Personal Move Manager. After she and I spoke, she hired me as a Real Estate agent instead! I’ve loved working with her, and the Archibald team, since.

Beth is a pillar of the relocation and real estate community. It is a huge testament to the company she founded and runs that it receives outside referrals – even from other relocation companies that know they can’t hold a candle to the stellar agents Beth snaps up. As an agent, it is great that Archibald is a one-stop-shop for the full suite of relocation services. Some companies have a small army of people managing each of the individual aspects of the move. At Archibald, there is only one Personal Move Manager that coordinates everything fluidly. I and my clients know where to get answers! Plus, with all this talent in one spot, Archibald is a nexus for business networking. Archibald makes people look good, even other relocation and real estate companies that have us help out. That is a huge part of why I wanted to contribute my expertise and grow with the company!

Do you see real estate as a vital aspect of relocation?

Absolutely. Getting help with selling a current home, a home purchase, or even the rental aspect is crucial. I love working at Archibald because I know that all of the other aspects of the relocation are being expertly managed – temporary housing, travel arrangements, household goods move, to name a few – and I can focus on the buyer’s (or seller’s) needs.

I’ve worked in the industry a long time and clients that don’t support their new employee’s real estate needs are doing a disservice – not only to the incoming employee but also themselves. An employee that needs to get started at their new position can’t give 100% if they are worried about where their family will live. Giving someone the time they need to find the right home, to make the right choice on where they can get established really helps.

I understand you’ve relocated several times before. What have you taken away from those personal relocations that has helped you service your clients?

During my relocations I was always so swamped with things to do – calling the van lines, cleaning the house, getting travel set up – let alone getting my home sold or finding time to look for a new place. Everything was just so time consuming. I’ve taken that experience and always aimed to save my clients’ time.

Getting a house hunting trip set up is no small feat, and the few days they have in town to look I help them make the most of it. I make sure I am available to be their eyes and ears when they are too busy with everything else to focus on the real estate. It is always gratifying to see the look of relief or hear the stress leave their voice when me going the second mile means they get to focus on other priorities.

What does ‘second mile service’ mean to you? What would you tell a client this means to you?

‘Second mile service’ is providing unexpected or additional help and services. It involves being proactive and thinking two to four steps down the line. Often time it is just putting myself in the shoes of my clients – understanding what needs to be done well in advance, knowing what questions the clients haven’t thought to ask and keeping everyone in the loop is a high level of service and professionalism, ‘second mile service’ is taking that to the extreme.

For example, I was showing a property out in West Lynn, a nice big fenced home with some acreage that was vacant due to a foreclosure and when we pulled up at the gate there was a llama just wandering around the driveway. I managed to chase it back into it’s pen in time for the showing – all while wearing heels!

What really brings people back to Archibald is that we are always willing to take those extra steps and over-deliver. At this point, it is IMPERATIVE to our success as being one of the top thirty real estate providers in Portland.

Beyond just what I do, we have an established and ready ‘B’ team – an in-house lender partner in Director’s Mortgage who can guide the loan process, providers like Gruntworks/HouseHappy that can solve issues before they even begin when and where repairs are needed, HomeShield and even Fidelity National Title that not only saves my clients money but is quadruple checking everything along the way so closing goes smoothly.

What advice would you give relocating employees about getting started with their home search in the new area/home sale at their origin? Especially in the greater Portland metropolitan area?

Call me and lets talk. No, seriously! If you are planning to purchase or sell, get in touch with your Personal Move Manager so you can get connected with an experienced, relocation-trained agent right away. That discussion can be truly enlightening.

Start to plan some house hunting trips. Yes, that’s right. Most of the time one house hunting trip may not cut it. If your benefits cover a trip, that’s excellent. Take advantage of it! If it is a seller’s market, you might want to cash in airline miles you’ve built up to go again. You never know what amazing house might pop up until you are in town and I can take you to it. Spending a bit more now to ensure you get the home you want, not a home you settle for, will define your experience in the new area.

If you have a home to sell – Archibald can help there too! As a member of the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council, your Personal Move Manager can guide you through a Broker’s Market Analysis, where two independent, relocation-trained agents put together separate comprehensive reports so Archibald can help you make a truly informed decision on the sale of your home. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

As far as Portland goes, talk with your Personal Move Manager. They live and work here – one of the hottest greater metropolitan areas in the country. Most of them have bought a house and/or sold one. They understand on a personal level. They will help you apply your benefits in the best possible way so that when you do get out here and talk to me or any of our agents that you can focus on the house hunt.

You’ve worked on many corporately sponsored relocations, including on home buyout processes and BVOs. What is the added value you see that helps the client?

Oh my gosh, I don’t know how to get this across strongly enough – buyouts and BVOs save so much time and money for relocating clients. They don’t need to hang around paying two mortgages if their home doesn’t sell. They can get to work without the cloud of an old home hanging over their head.

While the BVO is seen as complex at first,, so many of my clients have saved tons by going through the double deed process. I have an easy way to explain the whole process and walk my clients through each step beforehand. Archibald has a dedicated transaction coordinator to keep appraised of each step along the way and Kristen Sanborn, the Principal Broker, is a genius with the paperwork. Honestly, I haven’t worked with any company that has made the process so streamlined.

As a relocation trained real estate agent, you have a different view of the industry than many others. Do you see any areas that the industry has not changed or adapted to? What are the shortcomings you see in the relocation real estate industry? What would you say is the biggest hurdle to addressing these?

I’d say that it has been interesting to see all the new technology that has come out in the last five, ten, years. There are websites now that promise to do so much so quickly – but I don’t see the advantage as much there yet. I mean, I know there are lots of agents that would benefit from a new webpage, but you can’t replace the people involved. I don’t have returning clients, many now longtime friends, because my website had the most bells and whistles.

It’s going to be a real struggle to keep these experienced folks that know how the markets work and totally understand each and every step in the listing/closing process in the field for much longer. As new technology trends pop up, it makes it harder to find a real connection with an agent. Archibald is ahead of the curve by combining a high functionality in their website and systems without losing the human touch.

What do you enjoy most about working with relocating clients that are looking to purchase?

I love getting to work with new people! There are so many reasons to move to Portland, and I am just so honored to be able to help these folks out with finding their new home. Being able to work with upbeat folks at Archibald is another huge bonus! I’m a people person. Everyone at Archibald is. It’s how we make real estate fun, even at such a stressful time in life as moving. A common saying in the industry is “There are three times in life that are the most stressful: Death, Divorce and Moving.” I get true enjoyment out of being able to help the people I can say that the last part of that isn’t true!

On the lighter side, what is the most absurd or bizarre ‘second mile service’ you have done to help out a client?

I’m going to have to go with the llama. I haven’t chased many llamas in my life, and fewer still with a showing deadline coming up! Otherwise, there was a time during a sale that the seller had left this huge pile of debris in front of the home. I ended up with my SUV parked out front, just shoveling garbage into it trying to make sure that my client, the buyer, didn’t have to deal with it!

What other insights or thoughts do you have regarding how managed relocation makes the moving process easier?

My clients that are moving have always expressed how much they appreciate being able to not have to worry about when their goods will arrive in their new home and having an experienced, calm and knowledgeable agent to fire their questions at. They don’t have to deal with the time-consuming details and can focus on settling in, exploring their new area and getting started at their new positions. Relocating is tough but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Archibald manages every piece of the whole process – I get the lucky part of being able to be outside all the time, tour great houses and help my clients find a new place to actually call ‘home.’

(Interviewer: Alex Paja, Interviewee: Wrayann Estey; Interview material is protected as property of Archibald Relocation and Real Estate Services. Reproduction or use of this material without express written consent of Archibald Relocation and Real Estate Services is not allowed.)