Industry Trends

CapRelo Insider June 2024

Team meeting around table

Surge in Container Market Drives Maersk to Raise 2024 Earnings Projection

Maersk, a major player in the shipping industry, has adjusted its annual predictions for 2024 due to two main factors: high demand for container shipping and an ongoing crisis in the Red Sea. A recent article posted by World Cargo News, says that Maersk now expects to make between $7-9 billion in profit, a significant increase from their previous estimate. Additionally, they anticipate having at least $1 billion in free cash flow, which is also higher than what was previously projected.

The trouble in the Red Sea has caused disruptions in shipping schedules and has led to congestion in ports, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. This congestion means ships must wait longer to unload and load their cargo, causing delays in delivery times. Maersk has even had to cancel some planned voyages to cope with the congestion.

Due to these issues, other companies in the industry predict that shipping prices will go up. Xeneta, a platform that tracks shipping rates, says that prices for shipping containers from certain regions, like the Far East to the US West Coast, could increase by as much as 57%. Similar price hikes are expected on other trade routes as well.

The Impact: Transferees relocating for work assignments may experience delays in the delivery of their goods due to the congestion in ports caused by the Red Sea crisis. This could potentially disrupt their settling-in process in their new location and require them to make temporary arrangements until their belongings arrive.

Additionally, if employers are responsible for covering the cost of transferee relocations as part of their relocation package, they may see an increase in shipping expenses. The rise in shipping prices predicted by industry experts could lead to higher relocation costs for both individuals and companies.

Addressing Housing Challenges in Employee Relocation: Insights from Industry Experts

In the face of the modern job market’s complexities, many relocating employees are encountering significant housing challenges along the way. Kathy Connelly, COO of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, sheds light on these issues.

Nationwide, inventory shortages persist, leading to multiple offers, elevated prices, and potential future resale issues. Rising interest rates affect purchasing power, pushing some transferees towards rentals. This shift has resulted in substantial price increases due to high demand. These challenges impact relocation costs, triggering adjustments in benefits provided by companies.

Certain geographic areas pose unique challenges. States like Texas, Florida, and Tennessee attract newcomers from higher-cost markets, exacerbating housing shortages. Sales trends vary regionally, with declines reported in parts of the South and West but gains in the Northeast.

Additionally, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) settled claims with home sellers about broker commissions, pending court approval. Changes this agreement brings to real estate transactions, effective August 17, 2024 include:

  • Agents using MLS must sign written agreements with buyers before tours
  • Compensation terms must be clear and objective
  • Communication about compensation on MLS platforms is prohibited
  • Buyers need written agreements for tours
  • Agent compensation remains negotiable for buyers and sellers
  • No written agreement is needed for casual conversations or open house visits

The Impact: Requiring written agreements before home tours adds a procedural step, potentially prolonging the home-buying process. For transferees under tight relocation schedules, this could delay their housing search and transition. The shortage of housing inventory, rising prices, and increased competition means they may encounter difficulties in finding suitable accommodations within their budget and preferences. These challenges may necessitate temporary housing extensions, increasing relocation costs and complicating logistics. Additionally, with limited housing options, the need for storage solutions for personal belongings during transitions becomes critical, adding further logistical and financial considerations for both employers and employees.[RS3]

The requirement to disclose agent compensation upfront and limit excess pay might reduce flexibility in negotiating relocation benefits. Employers could face more scrutiny and negotiation over relocation costs, which could affect how they plan and budget for expenses.

In addition to housing challenges like low inventory, rising prices, and the impact of high interest rates on purchasing power, the NAR settlement brings changes that introduce new requirements which could complicate relocation processes, increase cost awareness, and potentially impact negotiation dynamics between employers and transferees.

US Cities Paying People to Move: An Update on Relocation Incentives

Several US cities are enticing new residents with relocation incentives, offering cash payments and additional perks to attract workers. Known as worker relocation incentive programs, these initiatives aim to draw individuals with geographic flexibility by providing financial rewards and benefits like free gym memberships and co-working spaces. The popularity of these programs has surged in recent years, with the number of participating cities more than doubling, driven in part by the changing work culture during the pandemic.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, launched its Tulsa Remote program in 2018, offering remote workers and entrepreneurs $10,000 to move to the city for a year. The program has been successful, attracting thousands of participants and generating millions in economic impact.

Similarly, West Virginia’s Ascend program provides eligible recipients with a $12,000 cash incentive, as well as outdoor perks like free passes for rock climbing and ziplining. The program aims to showcase the state’s natural beauty and attract new residents.

Other states like Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Alabama, New York, and Alaska also offer various relocation packages and incentives to entice workers to move to their cities and towns.

The Impact: While these programs offer enticing benefits, they also face criticism. Some locals feel overlooked in favor of newcomers receiving incentives because of divisions within a community. It can also lead to an increase in the cost of living for long-term residents. Additionally, as more companies transition to in-person work, the effectiveness of these programs may diminish.

Despite these challenges, many relocation programs continue to thrive.

Buyer Broker Compensation – Insights from CapRelo

CapRelo remains an active listener in state-by-state updates regarding the recent Buyer Brokerage Litigation.

On June 18, 2024, a deadline passed for certain MLS networks not fully owned by NAR affiliated organizations to decide if they wanted to follow new rules for how buyer brokers get paid. There are about 30 of these MLS networks, and they are now announcing their decisions. For example, Northwest MLS (NWMLS) said early on May 28 that they chose not to follow these new rules. REsides, Inc. also announced on June 19 that they decided not to join. Both groups noted that they are abiding by state laws and are already adhering to many of the terms of the settlement.

NWMLS argued that if commission offers are removed from home listings, it could make things less clear and might lead to “deceptive practices.” The goal of these new rules is to show all the details about commissions, incentives, and other things related to buying a home. This transparency is meant to encourage competition and give buyers the best chance to negotiate terms and pay fairly.

The Impact: NWMLS, Resides Inc., and other MLS networks not fully owned by NAR affiliated organizations can choose not to follow the new rules for how buyer brokers are paid. These rules include not listing the commission offered to buyer brokers. As a result, these networks will operate differently from others that do follow the rules. This difference might make discussions with clients about benefits and policy decisions more complex.

NWMLS and REsides Inc. might attract attention from the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ plans to file legal documents on June 20 and June 21 for several cases involving how buyer brokers are paid, such as Nosalek vs MLS PIN and DOJ vs. NAR.

Global Mobility Radar

CapRelo’s Mobility Radar provides valuable insights into trends worth monitoring. This month, we have detected important global mobility updates in the US, Europe and around the globe.

  • According to The Guardian, in May 2024 the US added 272,000 jobs, which shows the job market’s resilience despite high interest rates. However, the unemployment rate rose to 4%. Federal officials are cautious about reducing interest rates too soon, balancing the need to control inflation without harming the labor market.
  • A recent headline from CNN mentions that the European Central Bank (ECB) cut interest rates, responding to receding inflation. This move, the first in nearly five years, reduces the benchmark rate to 3.75%. The timing of rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve later this year could influence ECB decisions to prevent currency devaluation and potential inflationary pressures.
  • According to CNBC, air cargo shipping increased 9% month over month in May. As ocean freight costs rise, air freight rates are anticipated to increase accordingly.