Dwellworks was excited to attend the Fall Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium during the week of October 20. We gained important industry insight by attending several educational sessions and through conversations with fellow attendees. The Dwellworks team was honored to receive the following awards:
- BP Vendor of the Year, Western Hemisphere
- Cartus Commitment to Excellence Gold – Property Management
- Cartus Commitment to Excellence Silver – Appraisal
- Cartus Commitment to Excellence Silver – Destination Services (UK)
- Cartus Commitment to Excellence Silver – Destination Services (US)
- Lexicon World of Quality Supplier Excellence Award – Destination Services
We were also proud to sponsor the Symposium’s mobile app. We’d like to thank all of our clients and new friends that we met during the conference!
According to figures released October 1 by real estate research firm, Reis, Inc., the US national apartment vacancy rate fell to 4.2% in Q3 from 4.3% in Q2. Collecting data in 79 US markets, Reis reported this was the lowest vacancy rate since Q3 2001 when the rate dropped to 3.9%. While rents have risen accordingly, the increases have not been as high as expected. In Q3, the national average market rent escalated .9% to $1,121.00. Not surprisingly, rents in the San Francisco and San Jose markets jumped at a higher rate of 2.2%. New construction expected to continue in Q4 and into 2014 may serve to raise the vacancy rate and slow down the increases in monthly rental rates.
Hot markets such as Austin, Dallas, Seattle and Denver will continue to see low vacancy rates despite new construction projects. Conversely, aggressive new building projects may leave other cities with a glut of properties and some developers are proactively slowing down the construction pace. While the absorption of new apartment inventory has been better than anticipated and funding from public and private sources flush, the lower than expected rental rate increases have investors putting on the brakes.
With an agreement reached on funding federal government operations, we expect crucial Social Security Administration functions to resume, including filing for Social Security numbers. Recognizing there will be a backlog at many high volume SSA offices, Dwellworks is advising its local Destination Services Consultants to reach out to assignees to prioritize applications and schedule SSA office visits and application reviews with SSA staff. Assignees will be advised that SSA wait time and process time will likely be prolonged and may deviate from the typical times due to the increased volume of incoming applications. As always, our service is there to support assignees until their cards have been successfully obtained.
Dwellworks congratulates all the winners of the 2013 EMMA Awards! We were honored to once again attend this industry event. For more information about this year’s winners, click here.
This week, the US celebrates National Customer Service Week! Below is a brief history and explanation along with this year’s theme, “United through Service.” It’s great how this ties together with the Dwellworks corporate value of teamwork and also the importance of building relationships with customers and clients.
National Customer Service Week was created by The International Customer Service Association (www.ICSAtoday.org) in 1984 in order to set aside a distinct time each year to recognize and reward those who work in customer service companies and industries. In 1991, the ICSA was successful in working with the United States Congress to recognize the week as an annual National event.
In 1992, President George H. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation officially recognizing the first week of October as National Customer Service Week. In the Proclamation, President Bush cited the critical value of service excellence in the US economy. He said,
“A business will do a better job of providing high quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference. Customer service professionals work in the front lines where a firm meets its customers; where supply meets demand. With responsive policies and procedures and with simple courtesy, customer service professionals can go a long way toward ensuring customer satisfaction and eliciting the next round of orders and purchases.”
The theme for this year’s National Customer Service Week is: “United through Service.” Great service and creating an extraordinary customer experience result in satisfied, loyal clients and serve to establish a foundation upon which to build and maintain essential client relationships. We become – united, through that service experience.
It is sometimes easy to take for granted our internal customer relationships, as we focus heavily on our external clients. It is essential to remember the importance to also foster meaningful relationships with and provide exceptional service to those within your organization.
Here is the latest information on the impact the partial US government shutdown may have on relocation services, from the Social Security Administration (SSA):
Effective with a Federal Government Shutdown October 1st, Social Security field offices will remain open with limited services. Social Security card centers will be closed. Field offices will NOT be able to issue new or replacement Social Security cards.
This information impacts appointments that Destination Services Consultants have scheduled with assignees to accompany them to SSA offices beginning on October 1. It is our understanding that field offices will not issue new cards or renewals until funding is approved and normal operations resume. Please be aware that the inability to secure Social Security Numbers also impacts the ability to obtain driver’s licenses in many states, and impacts payroll processing as well.
We will be sure to post and provide updates as this situation changes.
Per the Case-Shiller report, home-price gains across the country eased a bit in June, spurring concerns that rising mortgage rates are slowing the recovery. Economist Stan Humphries acknowledged that the June report fails to reflect the impact higher rates are having on house prices, stating that that won’t happen until the July data is released in September.
The U.S. Commerce Department stated recently that sales of new homes across the country had begun to cool, falling 13.4% compared to the month of May. That was the biggest decline in more than three years. For more information, read here.
A strike continues to disrupt Canadian visa applications as 150 Ottawa foreign service officers have left their processing centers. This strike significantly affects the plans of students, temporary workers and tourists who are trying to enter the country. According to Tim Edwards, the president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, “the output of visas under the current job action will be tens of thousands fewer a week.” Furthermore, Canada’s economy could take a multi-million-dollar hit from the strike. Though the Citizen and Immigration department is working to process as many visa applications as possible, individuals seeking a visa are encouraged to submit their application as quickly as possible. For more information about this strike, click here.
The Detroit office recently completed a philanthropy event for Denby High School’s government class teacher, Jonathan Hui. They raised money through a Penny War contest and by purchasing office supplies through Chalkfly (Chalkfly donates 5% of purchase to a local teacher’s classroom). Great job, team! Read more here.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has now fully implemented the automated I-94 process for all air and sea ports. Although there is speculation this may decrease the time it takes to receive a Social Security Number (SSN), the Social Security Administration (SSA) has not changed their direction on waiting 10 days after arrival into the US to apply for an SSN.
Dwellworks believes that the best practice is to continue to follow the SSA guidelines and will direct our Destination Services Consultants to advise assignees to wait the 10 days after arrival. We will continue to monitor the impact of the automated I-94 and will update you with any changes as applicable.