Corporate housing has always been a viable strategy for businesses that need to temporarily house clients, employees, and contractors. But now, thanks to changing attitudes on corporate housing and new technologies making arrangements easier, corporate housing approaches are changing.
In case you aren’t familiar, corporate housing is a typically furnished house, condo, or apartment provided to an individual as a means of temporary residence, serving as an alternative to a stay at a hotel. It’s often used by companies who need the help of an outside professional. Corporate housing is generally viewed as more comfortable and more welcoming to the individual, and in many cases, is cheaper than an equivalent hotel stay. It’s also better suited for long-term stays.
So how is corporate housing evolving?
Searchability and Accessibility
One of the best improvements in the corporate housing world has been the emergence of online platforms that make it easier to find the housing you need.
For example, Blu Corporate Housing allows you to search among more than 64,000 fully-furnished rentals all over the United States. With it, you can easily find a property in your desired location that fits your monthly budget and is available for the length of your desired stay.
The most obvious benefit here is time savings. Rather than having to tour multiple properties or look through multiple competing online listings, you can generate a list of all properties that meet your specifications, and quickly narrow down the list to one that serves your needs perfectly. You can also save money this way, discovering ideal properties for the lowest monthly rate.
Thanks in part to the rise of platforms like Airbnb, more individual homeowners and real estate investors have been interested in making their property available for short-term rentals. A couple of decades ago, most corporate housing was owned and operated by large-scale real estate companies, managing a portfolio of corporate housing outfits as well as other properties. Now, more solo investors are getting involved in the action, putting a guest home or previous rental property up for corporate housing purposes.
This is generally good for the corporate housing industry. To employers and travelers, the main benefit here is diversity; there’s a wider range of corporate housing options than ever before, so you can choose the property that best serves your needs. This is also driving more competition, which is keeping pricing down.
Perceptions of Corporate Housing
Some perceptions about corporate housing are also beginning to evolve. For example, even the name is starting to become a bit of a misnomer; while “corporate housing” and “corporate rentals” are, indeed, often used by corporations who want to temporarily house their employees, these forms of temporary housing are also beginning to look attractive to anyone interested in an extended stay.
One key example here is general travelers. If you’re visiting a family member in another state, and you don’t want to stay with them, having a furnished “home” of your own could be ideal. It could also be a much more attractive alternative to a hotel stay if you’re going on an extended vacation.
The Demise of Lump Sum Corporate Relocation
It’s also worth noting that the rise in interest and availability of corporate housing units is forcing “lump sum” corporate relocation into decline. Historically, when hiring someone from out of town, a company would pay that person a fixed amount of money to account for moving expenses, including a stipend for temporary housing at a hotel. Corporate housing is, generally, a much less expensive alternative, and one that’s far more comfortable and convenient for the person moving. Accordingly, lump sum corporate relocation has fallen out of favor in recent years.
There’s also evidence that the increased interested in corporate housing is putting pressure on housing market prices. For example, an apartment that could ordinarily be rented at $1,800 a month could, fully furnished, go for $3,300 a month as a corporate rental. This has a combination of different effects. First, landlords are incentivized to convert their rental properties to corporate units, reducing the affordable inventory available to prospective renters. Second, it pushes traditional rental prices higher, resulting in overinflated prices. Over time, if those prices are pushed too high beyond their intrinsic value, it could lead to a plummet in demand — a mini economic bubble bursting.
Corporate housing is certainly on an upward trend. More people are interested in the arrangement as an alternative to basic corporate relocation, and thanks to new platforms and new technology, it’s more possible than ever before to offer (and find) a corporate rental. There are some economic side effects to consider here, including the possibility of artificially pushing rental prices higher, but for the most part, both companies and consumers are benefitting from these changes.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant.Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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